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UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
To be published as HC 1631-i
House of commons
TAKEN BEFORE THE
Home Affairs Committee
HOME OFFICE AGENCIES
Tuesday 8 November 2011
Theresa May mp
Evidence heard in Public Questions 1 - 83
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
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Taken before the Home Affairs Committee
on Tuesday 8 November 2011
Keith Vaz (Chair)
Mr James Clappison
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Examination of Witness
Witness: Theresa May MP, Home Secretary, gave evidence.
Q1 Chair: Home Secretary, thank you very much for coming to give evidence to the Committee today. Originally, I had asked you to come and give evidence on the National Crime Agency and we will be turning to those issues shortly. You very kindly agreed, when I spoke to you yesterday, to answer further questions on the problems with the UKBA and that is the nature of the first set of questions that members of the Committee would like to put to you.
I do not know whether you have managed to read the Select Committee’s report published on Thursday of last week-I know you have been very busy-but it ends with paragraph 54, which says, "The UK Border Agency’s provision of information to this Committee falls short of the standards that the House is entitled to expect and on which the Government itself insists. The agency has certainly not been as open and helpful as possible, as civil service guidelines require. There is every risk that the agency’s failure to provide us with the information we require in a format that is appropriate for our needs and within the time requested will undermine effective parliamentary scrutiny of the agency’s work."
We would like to ask you questions in the context of what we regard as the ongoing problems of the UK Border Agency. You may like to know that the Committee-you are probably aware of this-is now reviewing the agency on a four-monthly basis. However, despite the fact that the chief executive of the agency came to give evidence to us in September, no mention was made to this Committee of either your pilot or any extension of the pilot. Mr Sedgwick, obviously acting for Lin Homer who had been promoted and became the Permanent Secretary at Transport, did not tell us of any of this and in none of the correspondence that we have had with Ministers and others has anyone informed the Committee, or indeed Parliament. You were very clear in your statement in the House yesterday that you made the decision to begin the pilot. Why did you initiate the pilot?
Theresa May: Thank you very much, Chairman. I am very conscious of the comments that the Committee has made about the UK Border Agency and indeed I am sure it is not the first time in terms of your report that you have raised issues around the operation of UKBA.
In coming to your question about why I accepted the pilot, perhaps I could just absolutely reiterate where we are in terms of the facts around the suspension of Brodie Clark and the unauthorised actions that took place by UK border force. As I said yesterday in Parliament, there are two separate issues. The first is that the Immigration Minister and I did indeed authorise a limited pilot this summer, which in limited circumstances allowed UK border force to use more intelligence-led checks against higher-risk passengers and journeys instead of always checking EEA national children travelling with parents and in school groups against the warnings index and always checking European nationals’ second photographs in the chip inside their passports. The results of the pilot are not yet evaluated fully but statistics do show an almost 10% increase in the detection of illegal immigrants compared to the year before.
The second issue is that senior UK border force officials, without my authorisation, ordered the regular relaxation of border checks. First, biometric checks on EEA nationals and warnings index checks on EEA national children were abandoned on a regular basis without my approval. Second, adults were not checked against the warnings index at Calais, without my approval. Third, the verification of the fingerprints of non-EEA nationals from countries that require a visa were stopped, again without my approval. As you know, relevant officials have been suspended and, as I outlined to the House yesterday, I have ordered three separate investigations, but I want to be absolutely clear that the pilot that I authorised did not in any way put border security at risk. The pilot was authorised in order to ascertain whether in fact there was better security from taking a more intelligence-led, risk-based approach to certain checks that were made at the border.
Q2 Chair: You said this in the House yesterday and we were most grateful for your very full statement. Let us just go through the timeline with relatively quick answers to these questions so that all colleagues can come in on this. You initiated the pilot; you did not tell Cabinet; presumably you did not tell the Prime Minister. This was quite a change but you informed no other Minister about this. You and the Immigration Minister would have known about it. Is that right? Was Cabinet told and was the Prime Minister told?
Theresa May: No, Chairman, this was an operational matter about how UKBA was operating. It was a decision taken to pilot a method of operation with limited changes to the checks that were going to be made and limited changes that would operate at the discretion of officers, not on a routine, regular basis.
Q3 Chair: Very helpful. From the time you initiated the pilot to the time you extended the pilot, had you met Brodie Clark or the acting chief executive of the UK Border Agency and had you received any reports about the progress of the pilot? As I understand it, the Home Office operates a logging system. If there are changes made on an operational basis, that information is logged at the Home Office. Are you telling this Committee that, from the time you initiated your pilot to the time you extended the pilot, you had no reports on the success or otherwise of the pilot and you did not meet Brodie Clark between the time you started the pilot and the time it was extended?
Theresa May: I am not saying that there was no information available, Chairman. A number of reports were submitted to Ministers. There were four submissions over the period up to the decision to extend. Three of those submissions I saw; one of them the Immigration Minister saw and turned back because there was not enough information in it. For the first two, I also requested more information. On those first two, on all of the submissions, the final one being the one that asked for the extension of the pilot in order to give a longer period for evaluation, it was made clear that the figures that they were giving us for seizures-and what they were talking about was how many illegal immigrants had been stopped, how many drugs had been taken and so forth-was in relation to the operation of the pilot that had been authorised by Ministers.
Q4 Chair: Had you met Brodie Clark during any of that period? He is a very senior official and I am sure I have seen footage of you with Brodie Clark, going to airports. I think you went with the Prime Minister to the UK border just before his major speech on immigration when he said he wished to reclaim the borders. Did you meet Brodie Clark during any of that period?
Theresa May: The footage that you saw of myself and the Prime Minister was in fact quite old footage of myself and the Prime Minister.
Q5 Chair: But did you meet Mr Clark from the time-
Theresa May: I do not recall meeting Mr Clark between the time of agreeing the pilot should take place and the evaluation of the pilot. Obviously, from time to time there are meetings of myself with senior officials of UK border force and, indeed, at an earlier stage before I approved the pilot, there were meetings in which Brodie Clark had set out to me the wider changes that he wished to put in place. Those wider changes were ones that I rejected.
Q6 Chair: I am very clear up to the point about the extension. Now, let us go to the Brodie Clark extension. That was done without your knowledge, without your consent, without any memos being sent to the Home Office, without any logging of information in the Home Office. This was done operationally by Mr Clark on his own, without anyone in the Home Office knowing anything about it, including Ministers.
Theresa May: I was not aware that the extension of the relaxation of checks had taken place. As I have set out in my initial statement, a number of relaxations were put in place by officials. Brodie Clark, as I understand it, has admitted to the chief executive of UKBA that he did go beyond ministerial authority. I was not aware that this is what had been done.
Q7 Chair: What concerns me, and I think will concern the Committee and others, is the difference between what you think was happening and what the memo, which is now widely circulated-it was in the newspapers this morning-was saying. You said the pilot was for security reasons but the memo suggests it was to be relaxed because of excessive queuing. You say the pilot meant that the border staff were allowed, under limited circumstances, as you have just told this Committee, to admit European entrants but the memo says, "We will cease routinely checking the chip within EEA passports." Finally, you told officials explicitly-something you said to the House and you said again today-that the pilot was not to be extended further, but the memo says that senior managers of the Border Force could give authority for local staff at airports to take those measures. Have you now seen this memo that was circulated?
Theresa May: I assume, Chairman, you are talking about the interim operational instruction of 28 July?
Chair: Indeed. You have seen it. So you have seen the difference between the language that you have given to this Committee today, the language in the House yesterday, which is absolutely clear. When the Home Secretary says, "I explicitly told them not to go beyond the relaxation that I had authorised," you would expect people to listen to the Home Secretary. Did you say this verbally or did you send out an email or a memo to that effect?
Theresa May: There was an email sent out that explicitly explains those things that were not authorised by myself. In relation to the memo that is here, the point about the improved security and the changes to the checks-so that checks were going to be operated on the biometric chip for EEA nationals and running EEA national children in family groups or in school groups against the warnings index-the decision was to go not to routinely doing that but to doing that at the discretion of border officers when they believed there was a risk to do that. Those were to be operated in the circumstances where volumes were such that it was better for border security, rather than doing a lot of mandatory checks against low risk passengers and missing perhaps higher checks against higher-risk passengers, moving to a situation where more risk-based assessment was taken and therefore more checks were being done on higher-risk passengers rather than the mandatory checks on the lower-risk.
If I may, Chairman, you also mentioned the extension, which is referred to in this. This is indeed a paragraph that refers back to health and safety instructions that were first set out when the warnings index was introduced in 2007 and it is an extension of those health and safety instructions.
Q8 Chair: Let me give you a final question-and then I am going to bring colleagues in-about the concern of this Committee concerning human trafficking in your original decision. We are very worried that even your original decision, which was done for security reasons to begin a risk-based approach, as you have said, will have allowed into this country gangs of people-with children-who are involved in human trafficking. So even that initial decision causes us concern in respect of the reports that we have published in the past about the need for the border to be secure. What the public would expect is that the border is secure, and presumably that is why you were so furious about what has happened. My concern is that even your original decision would have let in people who were part of those gangs, possibly EEA nationals, who were involved in criminal activities to do with human trafficking and possibly even security breaches.
Theresa May: Chairman, obviously we are all concerned about the issue of human trafficking and this is something that, as you know, the Government is committed to doing more in terms of trying to stop the terrible crime of human trafficking. It is not the case that the changes that I agreed in the pilot would have led to people being passed through where officials had-
Q9 Chair: You are absolutely certain of that? You have no doubt about that?
Theresa May: Chairman, what officers were told was that it was at their discretion, when they considered that there was a risk, and that risk is not just a security-based risk. If they had any reason to doubt that children who were accompanied by adults claiming to be a family group of EEA nationals were not a family group, it was at the discretion of those officers to put the checks against the warnings index, as they would have done routinely on a normal basis.
Q10 Mr Clappison: Secretary of State, this Committee has had problems in the past in extracting information from the Border Agency and its predecessor organisations before 2008 when it was set up, as the Chairman has said. How do you respond to those who are concerned about the culture in this organisation that seems to have grown up over a number of years?
Theresa May: Mr Clappison, as I indicated to the Chairman at the beginning of my evidence session, I am well aware that this Committee has long had concerns about UKBA and I think we have all known for many years that UKBA does have serious and endemic problems and a culture that I would say lacks a sense of delivery and accountability. When I became Home Secretary, I had a series of conversations with the then Permanent Secretary, David Normington, about certain aspects of UKBA and what actions could be taken, and I took the decision to split the policy arm of the organisation from its operations. Lin Homer, when she was chief executive, was responsible for both policy and operations. I took that decision to split those two and I think it is important because, although we have seen in these recent events that there are still concerns and problems with the operational side of UKBA in terms of its chain of command, there is now a clearer focus on what needs to be done and I am committed to making sure that improvements are made.
We now have a new chief executive in Rob Whiteman, who has only been in place for six weeks, who will have clear responsibility for delivering on the operational side of things, and I think that is right. We have also improved the specific delivery of UKBA in a number of areas, for example a series of enforcement campaigns on sham marriages and illegal immigration. There is still a lot to be done, I recognise this, and I certainly do not underestimate the size of the task, but what I will say to you, Chairman, is that the UKBA of today will not be the UKBA of tomorrow.
Q11 Mr Clappison: This is only a small point but it is one that has irritated me, and I suspect many others, over a long time. The language that is used by the UKBA is so obscure. They talk about decisions being cascaded down or escalated up. They do not use English so much as murder it. Can something be done to deal with the bureaucracy and the bureaucratic language that seems to be a symptom of the weird world in which some of these people are living?
Theresa May: All I would say on that, Mr Clappison, is that terms like "cascade down" and "escalate up" are sadly not terms that are restricted to UKBA but are civil service-wide. So the culture to be changed on language is rather greater a job than you have indicated.
Q12 Alun Michael: On that joyful note of agreement-and can you get rid of initials as well-coming to this one, can we take for granted what you said yesterday and could you, where appropriate, give us full details perhaps after the event? But, firstly, what exactly was the pilot that you agreed to? It seems a rather odd pilot because, certainly to start with, one assumed that it would be one airport or a couple of airports and yet you had to answer questions during the course of yesterday’s questions as to whether it included Manchester or the Scottish airports. It seems to have included everything. Was this really a pilot?
Theresa May: Yes, it was a pilot in that it was for a limited period of time. If I may clarify the issue in relation to the ports at which it was operated. The pilot was made available for operation across all ports. It was not necessarily used at all ports. One of the issues that the John Vine investigation is going to look into is to be absolutely clear about what has been happening across all ports. So the pilot, the very limited pilot that was undertaken, was made available at all ports.
Q13 Alun Michael: Was the evaluation at all ports as well? That seems a rather widespread approach, rather than trying something in a couple of locations.
Theresa May: As I say, the point of the pilot was a limited period of time. I think if you are going to assess the applicability and the implications of making changes to the checks and giving officers more discretion in relation to two of the checks that they would normally have made, and only those two of those checks, then it is right for that to be evaluated and tested in a variety of types of environment-obviously the numbers of people going through Heathrow versus the numbers going through Manchester or somewhere else. I think it is important to do that but, of course, I reiterate that that was in relation to an evaluation of the pilot. What happened under the unauthorised actions is separate.
Q14 Alun Michael: Yes. Presumably you will give us all the information on the evaluation and so on. Was the operational note on the pilot cleared with Home Office officials?
Theresa May: You are talking about the interim operational instruction?
Alun Michael: Yes.
Theresa May: That will have been a UK Border Agency document.
Q15 Alun Michael: Yes. Was it cleared with Home Office officials?
Theresa May: As far as I am aware it was done by the UK Border Agency.
Q16 Alun Michael: Yes, I know, but my question was, was it cleared-
Chair: We will accept a "don’t know".
Theresa May: I will check but my understanding is that it was done by UK Border Agency officials and therefore was not done by Home Office officials, but I am happy to check that and come back to you. I am sorry-I apologise, Mr Michael; I thought my answer to your question had implied the answer you were looking for.
Q17 Alun Michael: In my experience, agencies of the Home Office always cover themselves by either asking for or supplying copies of documentation. Could you also clarify for us whether copies of that operational note at the time that it came out, if it was not cleared with officials, was it provided to officials?
Theresa May: I am happy to check that fact and come back to the Committee, Chairman.
Q18 Chair: If you have a copy now, how did you obtain it?
Theresa May: My officials obtained the copy. They understood that a copy had been made available to the media and, once they had identified which operational instruction it was, they therefore obviously obtained a copy for me.
Q19 Steve McCabe: Home Secretary, can we go back to the actual procedures that the UKBA use? I understand that the procedure is that every time a level 2 operation is put in place-that is a decision to relax the normal border controls-that the individual responsible for taking that decision has to fill in an operational log and that that log is forwarded on a weekly basis to the Home Office. Is that correct?
Theresa May: There are indeed processes in place. One of the issues that the Chief Inspector’s investigation will look at will be at the recording of information about the operation of checks and any changes to the operation of checks, and whether that recording of information was being undertaken as fully and properly as it should have been.
Q20 Steve McCabe: So somewhere in the Home Office at the moment there must be quite a lot of weekly reports giving clues to what was going on. No one ever thought to bring any of those to your attention? You have never seen a weekly report on any of these operational logs for the whole period our borders were being invaded in this fashion?
Theresa May: What I have seen is what I indicated earlier to the Chairman in answer to his question. There were four submissions that went to Ministers, three of which went to me, about the pilot, which clearly indicated they were about the pilot that had been agreed by Ministers and the impact that had had on secondary activity, for example seizures, identification of illegal immigrants, people with forged documents and so forth.
Q21 Steve McCabe: Do you know where in the Home Office the log went? Do you know who received it? Have your officials been able to uncover that for you?
Theresa May: Well, Mr McCabe, as I have indicated, one of the issues that we have asked the Chief Inspector to look at is about the flow of information in relation to what was happening. He will look at where the flows of information went to. He will also, as I have said, be looking at the question of whether everything was being recorded as fully and properly as it should have been. Until we know that, it is not possible to be absolutely clear about the times in which certain operations were put into place.
Q22 Mark Reckless: Home Secretary, it seems to me that the key paragraph is this one: "If for whatever reason it is considered necessary to take further measures beyond those listed above, local managers must escalate to the Border Force duty director to seek authority for their proposed action." You say that relates back to some previous guidance about health and safety. Could you show me where this paragraph is related back to that guidance?
Theresa May: Yes. When the warnings index was brought into place in 2007 this was in guidance that was there at the time. We are happy to provide a copy of that to the Committee, Chairman.
Q23 Mark Reckless: But if this paragraph does not refer back to that guidance, how does the individual officer, senior officer or otherwise, reading this to know that it is intended, as you say, to relate to that guidance?
Theresa May: This was a paragraph that had been used on a regular basis in information that was made available to officials at the border. It originated from the structure that was put around the operation of the warnings index. It relates, as I understand it, to health and safety in the sense that if there is a health and safety issue about the numbers of passengers who are queuing and building up at a particular port and an official wishes to therefore change the way they are operating the checks to change the flow of passengers, then they should refer that to the duty director. So it would be a paragraph that, as I understand it, has appeared on a number of occasions. It originated with that 2007 guidance.
Q24 Mark Reckless : But did Ministers consider that at a minimum the inclusion of this paragraph might provide wiggle room for UKBA officers to at least claim that other actions they might wish to take did not need to be authorised by Ministers?
Theresa May: No, this does not allow a decision to be taken to significantly change the checks that are made at the border on the sort of basis that was done, as has been done by Brodie Clark-by the head of UK border force.
Q25 Mr Winnick: Perhaps the most alarming thing that you said in the House yesterday, Minister, is, "As a result of these unauthorised actions, we will never know how many people entered the country who should have been prevented from doing so." Can you now give us any sort of estimate of the number of people-presumably thousands-who were allowed into Britain who should not have been?
Theresa May: Mr Winnick, as I said in the House yesterday, it is not possible to give an estimate to that number. I can give you an example of the numbers of people who come in and out of the UK. If you look at August 2010, about 10.5 million passengers came through the UK; about 2 million of those were non-EEA nationals coming through into the UK. What I am clear about-
Q26 Chair: This is for August?
Theresa May: That was for August 2010, total numbers.
Chair: In August 2010, 1 million non-EU citizens came in?
Theresa May: About 2 million passengers coming into the UK. What I am clear about is that the pilot that I agreed did not lead to a reduction in security. Indeed, it was in order to ensure that at certain times security could be undertaken properly and improved that the pilot was allowed. The pilot did not put border security at risk. Let’s be absolutely clear about that. The unauthorised-
Q27 Mr Winnick: But as it stands at the moment, if I can interrupt, Minister, you are not denying there are literally thousands of people in this country who may well have been stopped if the proper procedures had been adopted.
Theresa May: No, let’s be clear about the procedures that are available to identify those who should not be coming into the country. There are a number of procedures that take place before people even come into the country. What we are talking about is not those, but just to be clear to members of this Committee, those checks, of course, continue to be made. The e-borders checks continue to be made; for example, the identification of potential individuals of threat by our risk officers overseas who work with security agencies and governments and who last year stopped about 68,000 from coming to the UK. So there are a number of checks that continue to be made in relation to people who were applying to and trying to come into the UK. This is entirely separate. This is about what happens to people once they arrive at the United Kingdom. As I said, the pilot that I agreed did not put border security at risk. The unauthorised actions that took place went further-
Q28 Chair: Did put it at risk? In answer to Mr Winnick’s question, yours did not but the extension did. So the answer to his question, are there thousands of people in this country who pose a risk to security? You must be concerned about it; that is why you stopped it.
Theresa May: Of course, Chairman, I was concerned that unauthorised actions had taken place. In the initial request to me about changes being made, there were certain things that were suggested that I said I was not prepared to accept. I was only prepared to accept the limited checks that the pilot put in place.
Q29 Mr Winnick: Can I put this question to you, Home Secretary. There is a feeling that politicians would be looked upon with more favour if, say, a Minister accepts full responsibility for a major blunder-and there is no doubt a major blunder has occurred here-and took the consequences. What would be your reaction to that sort of feeling?
Theresa May: I would say, Mr Winnick, that I take full responsibility for my decisions and actions that related to the pilot, but Brodie Clark must take full responsibility for his actions.
Q30 Mr Winnick: So there is no question of resigning?
Theresa May: No.
Q31 Chair: You have taken responsibility for your pilot and you are saying officials should take responsibility for their unauthorised pilot?
Theresa May: Yes. Chairman, as you will be aware, there is a very simple process in terms of setting policy. Policy is set by Ministers. On this occasion a policy was set by Ministers and officials chose to go beyond that policy in what they did.
Chair: Indeed, we get the point and thank you for being so clear again.
Q32 Michael Ellis: Home Secretary, good afternoon. I recognise your achievements and those of the Home Office in bringing in measures to bring down immigration in the last 18 months. I am referring to clamping down on bogus colleges and student visas and breaking the link between work and settlement and the requirement to speak English. But the Border Agency has been dysfunctional for some time, and in fact the very recent report of this Select Committee has indicated that they have not been overtly co-operative, even with this Committee. Does it look to you at this early stage that Border Agency senior officers went on a frolic of their own in connection with this matter? If that does look like it is the case, how do you feel you are going to be able to knock this agency into shape in a way that your predecessors appear to have failed to do?
Theresa May: I will not use the colourful language that Mr Ellis has used in describing these but clearly the reason we are here is that certain unauthorised actions were put in place by a senior officer of the UK Border Agency, the head of the UK border force, who, as I understand it, admitted that he had gone beyond the actions that had been authorised by Ministers. But the wider point about UKBA and the necessity of dealing with it is a very valid one. The problems of UKBA have not just occurred in the last 18 months or in the last few days in relation to this Government. The last Government had a number of occasions when there were concerns about what was happening at the border and problems in relation to UKBA once it had been set up.
I am clear that we have in the new chief executive, Rob Whiteman, somebody who has already started to identify operational problems. I think it is absolutely right that he is focused on the operations of UKBA, and I made that split between policy and operations. I am also clear that we need to take a very clear look at UKBA, particularly at UK border force. Part of that will be the National Crime Agency and the relationship between UK border force and the Border Police Command. We were absolutely clear before we came into Government that we needed to set up that Border Police Command because we recognised some of the problems with UKBA. But, as I said earlier, the UKBA of today will not be the UKBA of tomorrow.
Q33 Michael Ellis:The first pilot, the authorised pilot, was based on what are known as intelligence-led security measures. I noticed that a Labour Member of Parliament, Chris Bryant, has admitted that intelligence-led security measures are important. Can we assume that that was the motive behind this pilot and can you elaborate on what is meant by intelligence-led security measures? Do you think that is where things have gone wrong, because clearly the unauthorised actions of senior officers have departed from what was intended?
Theresa May: Indeed. The basis on which the pilot was to operate was that it was to enable a greater focus on those who were at higher risk. Intelligence-led, led also at the discretion of the officers at the border so that they would be assessing within the two categories of EEA nationals and the biometric chips, and EEA national children-
Q34 Michael Ellis: So, for example, if they thought a child was a security risk they could activate their protocols to check that child?
Theresa May: Indeed. If they had any suspicion about a child in a family group, either in relation to security risk or, as the Chairman indicated earlier, in relation to a suspicion that that child was not part of that family group, that there was a potential for human trafficking to be taking place, then it was at the discretion of the officer to be able to put in place the warnings index check, which under the pilot was not routinely being done for EEA national children in certain groups.
Q35 Lorraine Fullbrook: Home Secretary, when you were deciding to carry out the official pilot what exactly were the objectives that you were trying to test? What was it you were trying to get to?
Theresa May: The objective of agreeing the pilot scheme was to look at whether, in circumstances where there were volumes of passengers going through, there was a greater ability to deal with security matters and to ensure security by focusing officers on those who were high-risk individuals, high-risk passengers, and put higher checks on high-risk passengers, intelligence-led and led by the suspicions of the officers, rather than just having the mandatory routine checks that were taking place. So, at certain times with certain volumes, is security improved by not having mandatory checks on low-risk passengers but focusing checks on those who are at high risk?
Q36 Lorraine Fullbrook: Thank you. Home Secretary, Dr Spiegelhalter, the Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge , today wrote in T he Times that security checks are as much a deterrent as a means of detecting actual suspects and concluded that the number of people that standard security checks managed to catch would not have been a ffected by the use of level 2 checks . Do you agree with this?
Theresa May: The number of people caught by standard checks would not have been affected by level 2 checks?
Lorraine Fullbrook: Correct. Do you agree with that?
Theresa May: I hesitate to challenge-
Q37 Chair: Do not worry if you have not had a chance to read it this morning. I have not read my papers this morning, either. Maybe you can read it later.
Theresa May: I look forward to looking in more detail at what Professor Spiegelhalter has said.
Chair: He is probably a distinguished constituent of Mrs Fullbrook.
Lorraine Fullbrook: No, he is not.
Chair: Can we now get back to pilot 1 and pilot 2?
Theresa May: Chairman, if I may say so, I think it is going to confuse people if you talk about pilot 1 and pilot 2. There was a pilot and there were unauthorised actions.
Chair: The pilot and the bogus pilot.
Q38 Nicola Blackwood: Before I go on to focus a little bit on the interim operational instruction, I would like to point out that the independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency did, in May 2011, produce a report on the UKBA’s use of intelligence, criticising it quite extensively and making the point that UKBA did need to apply more intelligence-based activities. So introducing a pilot that did introduce intelligence-based activities is perhaps a response to calls for more intelligence-based working. But if I could take you back to perhaps the critical paragraph, I am concerned that in the operational orders of UKBA since 2007 there has been a paragraph that has given discretion to border force duty directors to ease measures where there are health and safety risks at our borders. Could you perhaps give the Committee some indication in what circumstances duty directors were authorised to do that and what sort of measures they were enabled to relax?
Theresa May: This will have related to, by definition, health and safety arrangements. It will have been in circumstances where perhaps the passenger numbers were so great that there were concerns about the passengers in the area in which they were queuing and the numbers that were queuing in that area. The border force duty director will, at that point, have had a discretion to look at whether it was necessary to change the checks that were being made in order to increase the flow of passengers. The point about this, as I say, is that when the warnings index was introduced in 2007 this was introduced as a situation that was there. It was not to be used routinely, it was not to be a regular occurrence, but was for circumstances where an officer on duty on the floor, so to speak, felt there was an issue that had arisen and could-I was going to say escalate up the decision, but I shall say refer-refer the decision to a more senior manager to decide whether any action should be taken about it.
Q39 Nicola Blackwood: What level of risk were duty directors enabled to incur? What kind of checks could they relax in those sorts of circumstances?
Theresa May: They could have gone to what are called the level 2 checks, which is the similar sort of checks as the pilot that was in operation, for example not always checking the biometric chip for EEA nationals. So there was that sort of check that-
Q40 Nicola Blackwood: They have been authorised to do that in exceptional circumstances of health and safety risk since 2007; is that accurate?
Theresa May: Yes, and there have been occasions prior to 2007 where action will have been taken. This paragraph appeared in a particular guidance in relation to the warnings index, but there have been occasions prior to 2007 where in certain circumstances officials at the border will have relaxed checks-put checks at a different level-in order to ensure flows through.
Q41 Nicola Blackwood: Do we have estimates available as to how regularly that would have happened prior to the pilot? Was there a problem that arose that necessitated the use of the pilot in terms of queuing? The language of the pilot is sort of about customer service as well as increased security.
Theresa May: Yes. The pilot, as I hope I have explained-I have tried to explain to members of the Committee-was looking at those circumstances where there were issues around volume of passengers, but asking what is the best route on those occasions to ensure that security is maintained, and therefore evaluating the operation of this more intelligence-led risk-based approach rather than the routine mandatory checks on all in certain categories.
Q42 Nicola Blackwood: I suppose what I am trying to ask is how often was this paragraph being used to reduce the checks to level 2 prior to the introduction of the pilot and is there a way that we can find that out?
Theresa May: Well, I can certainly see if I can give any information to you.
Chair: That would be very helpful. If you could let us have it by noon
Q43 Dr Huppert: Can I firstly say that I entirely support the idea of having evidence-led processes at the border. Clearly to me it makes more sense to use intelligence than just to have blanket processes. I hope that what has happened with the unauthorised activities will not mean that the Home Office moves away from using intelligence-led processes in other areas. I would also comment that while speed was criticised somewhat in the statement in the House, the speed of getting through border controls is something raised by businesses and individuals and is something that I think we should want to see as well as doing the proper checks.
I have two very quick, hopefully, questions. One is there is clearly a great lack of clarity with this interim operational instruction. It was signed off by a director. On our version of it, the name of that director is blacked out but clearly that is the person who did not manage to make it clear about the health and safety things. You presumably know who that was. It would be very helpful to know who it was.
Theresa May: Yes, I am aware of the name of that director.
Q44 Dr Huppert: Is it one of the people who have been suspended?
Theresa May: No.
Q45 Chair: Another director signed off the guidance who has not been suspended?
Theresa May: You are talking about the operational note?
Theresa May: Yes, but if I may make the point that if members of this Committee are concerned about this paragraph, which is about the health and safety-and that being signed off-as I am trying to explain to the Committee this is not something that was suddenly inserted in this. This is something that has been appearing in documents for some time. I think I may have slightly given the wrong impression to the Committee in what I said earlier about the warnings index and the dates, so I do apologise. The warnings index itself was introduced in the 1990s. It was the checking policy against the warnings index that was introduced in 2007 and it was in that context that this paragraph was first used.
Q46 Dr Huppert: I think it would be better if that was clearer, but can I just move on to my other question. You spoke about the various evaluations that you had had and I have been informed elsewhere that there was some content in there that, at least with hindsight, was fairly explicit about what was happening. Presumably you will be able to publish all those evaluations so that we will be able to see whether there were hints buried in there that were or were not noticed at the time.
Theresa May: I would say that the submissions that were involved, Dr Huppert, explicitly referred to the operation of the pilot, the pilot being that which had been authorised by Ministers.
Q47 Dr Huppert: So you will be able to publish that so that we can have a look at it?
Chair: That would be very helpful if you could.
Theresa May: I am happy to make that available to the Committee.
Q48 Chair: Excellent. Up until Brodie Clark went off on his unauthorised pilot-we will not call it a pilot, unauthorised activity-you had presumably the highest confidence in him?
Theresa May: He was the head of the UK border force. He was in that position and obviously I dealt with him as the head of the UK border force.
Q49 Chair: This Committee has dealt with him in the past; he has given evidence to us. He was responsible for negotiating the e-borders contract. When we went down to Calais, it was Brodie Clark who was there to meet members of the Committee and our predecessor committee to show us the border. So he was at the very top of the Border Agency. You had no part to play in his suspension; this was done by Mr Whiteman. Mr Whiteman was informed on Wednesday and you were informed 24 hours later. Do you not think that that delay meant even more people coming into the country than ought to have come in? Should you not have been told immediately?
Theresa May: As I understand it, Chairman, Mr Whiteman had a conversation with the Chief Inspector on the Wednesday at which the Chief Inspector indicated that he had identified what he considered were inconsistencies in the operation of checking policy at the border in relation to a report that he was doing about Heathrow Terminal 3. Once those had been raised, Mr Whiteman then spoke the following morning to-
Chair: Thursday morning?
Theresa May: Thursday morning, to Brodie Clark and took the decision to suspend Brodie Clark at that time, and I and other Ministers were informed later that morning.
Q50 Chair: At what time?
Theresa May: Yes, I was informed-I think the first I saw of it was about 10.30 that morning.
Q51 Chair: You then appeared on Question Time, if I remember, in the evening.
Theresa May: I did indeed, Chairman.
Q52 Chair: When was it put out into the public domain that all this was happening? We published our report at midnight on the Thursday. You issued a press release, presumably, saying he has been suspended, because I got a call from a newspaper saying rumours were that Brodie Clark was to be suspended. There was no official notification that this was happening.
Theresa May: There was a process that was followed, which was about the notification to staff within the organisation about what had happened and I understand, I believe, that that official notification to staff-I think on the day action was taken to suspend-
Chair: The Thursday?
Theresa May: On the Thursday, action was taken to suspend the pilot, which was due to finish yesterday anyway, and to make absolutely clear to staff that they should obviously ensure that they were reinstating all of these checks.
Q53 Chair: Reinstate the checks. Who took the decision to suspend your original pilot that had been extended, the proper authorised pilot? Who took that decision?
Theresa May: The decision was taken by Rob Whiteman, as chief executive, but he informed my office, and Ministers were aware that he was sending out instructions in relation to that.
Q54 Chair: Two things puzzle me. This was your pilot, you took responsibility, you were very clear why you were doing it, yet the pilot-having been extended and you having received three submissions-was suspended by the head of the agency first before he told you. If there was nothing wrong with the initial pilot and it brought success to the Government in identifying key people who were therefore stopped, why did you stop the original pilot? I can’t understand, if we have nothing to be ashamed of in respect of the first pilot-if it was a good pilot as opposed to the unauthorised pilot that Mr Clark had gone off and done-why did you stop it?
Theresa May: First of all, it was only due to last for a matter of four or five days following the decision to suspend it, but it was stopped because of the circumstances that had been discovered, namely that that pilot had been operating under authorisation-
Theresa May: Properly, but alongside it unauthorised actions had been operating, and it was felt in the context of that-given that there were unauthorised actions undertaken in addition to the pilot-that it was preferable to immediately suspend and make absolutely clear what checks should be available so there could be no suggestion of any similarity between them.
Chair: I understand. Better to stop the whole thing and look at it all rather than take-
Theresa May: Yes.
Q55 Chair: But this was not taken by Ministers, this was taken by Mr Whiteman?
Theresa May: Ministers were aware that the pilot was being suspended.
Q56 Chair: The second thing that worries me, and I am sure members of the Committee, is that we only discovered all this was happening because Mr Vine happened to have gone on his visit. In the context of the reports that we have produced in the past about our concern about the UKBA, we feel that this chance meeting of Mr Vine and a person at an airport in the United Kingdom resulted in you, the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, being informed of something that you knew absolutely nothing about. So if Mr Vine had decided to take the day off and go to the seaside presumably this would still be ongoing. This is what really puzzles and concerns us in the context of the reports we have written, and that is why we urge you to take action now, not to wait until Mr Vine produces his report. You clearly know what is going wrong, our reports indicate what is going wrong with this organisation, and we urge you to take that action.
Can I say two things finally. Where is the Immigration Minister in all this? I would have thought the Minister of State responsible for immigration should be at the very heart of what is going on. Obviously we appreciate the fact that you have taken the lead and that you have come before the House, but where is the Immigration Minister in all this?
Theresa May: I indicated yesterday in the House, and indeed today in a number of my answers, points at which decisions were taken by myself and the Immigration Minister, where the Immigration Minister saw information. As I say, once the submissions about the pilot went to him, he sent it back with questions. It did not even reach me because he had sent it back with questions because he was concerned about the lack of information that was being given.
Q57 Chair: Could we ask you to ask him to look laser-like at this? This really requires, because of what has been happening and what we said in our report, a great deal of ministerial attention over the next few weeks. The last thing that you want is to come back before Parliament with something else going on or come before this Committee on these issues. We love to see you, obviously-and we will talk to you about the NCA in a moment-but on this issue we are very concerned. The Committee has decided to call Brodie Clark to give evidence to the Committee as part of our ongoing work into the work of the UKBA. We will be seeing Mr Whiteman earlier than we anticipated and we will be asking the Immigration Minister to come in as well. We feel, although you have spoken at the Dispatch box and he has spoken to Mr Whiteman, it is right and proper that Mr Clark be questioned by this Committee on what he has done.
Thank you very much. Now let us move on to the National Crime Agency, the original reason why you have come to see us. We hope very much that with the amount of ministerial attention you are putting into the NCA that you will not have to come before a committee in future years and defend it in quite the same way as you have had to defend the UK Border Agency. Initially we wanted Mr Bristow to come and give evidence before us but you wrote to me, Home Secretary, and said that you were the person accountable to Parliament and therefore you wished to come and give evidence to the Committee. Is that right?
Theresa May: Chairman, I felt that it was not appropriate for Mr Bristow to give evidence before this Committee before he is in post as head of the NCA. I think that at the moment it is absolutely right that I should come before you. I am sure that when he is in post and has had an opportunity to get his feet under the table-if I can describe it as such-then it will be possible for him to come before you.
Q58 Chair: I know that Mr Reckless raised this in the House with you yesterday and the Committee has taken a unanimous view that prior to him taking his appointment we would like to see him, so we will be writing to him to ask him to come and see us. We do not anticipate he will know the kind of detail that you can give us here on the National Crime Agency, but we would like to see him before he takes up his appointment and we have made that decision. Can I begin by asking when will he take up his appointment as the head of the NCA?
Theresa May: The expectation is that he will take up post in early December. There are still some discussions about the precise date. This is being finalised with Warwickshire Police Authority. He is, of course, currently Chief Constable of Warwickshire.
Q59 Chair: This is your flagship. We looked at the NCA. Some of us are impressed with the vision that you have set out, bringing organisations together, trying to save public money, acknowledging the fact that the Serious and Organised Crime Agency maybe has not achieved what we would like it to have achieved, taking the NPIA and putting it within the NCA. Are you confident, even at this stage, that you have enough of the detail in this organisation for it to be up and running on the timescale that you have mentioned previously to this Committee?
Theresa May: Yes, I am, Chairman. As you will be aware, it will be necessary for us to bring legislation before the House in order to create the National Crime Agency but our intention is that that legislation will be-and I hesitate to say this absolutely because one is always in the hands of the business managers-a second session Bill and that therefore it will be possible to have the NCA up and running in 2013.
Q60 Chair: So you think by then all the bits and pieces will be in place, you will know exactly what you are going to do as far as any functions that are missing?
Theresa May: Indeed, Chairman, and I would go further than that and make the point that what we are intending to do is to try to ensure that we have some aspect of the future operation of the NCA up and running, or at least shadowing, before the NCA itself is set up.
Q61 Chair: I am interested in this issue. You state that the NCA head will be directly accountable to the Home Secretary and his performance will be judged on whether our communities are safer from the threat of serious and organised criminality. First of all, we are delighted that he is not going to be given any bonuses, that this should not be a bonus culture, which you seem to have stopped for which we are grateful. Unfortunately, of course, we have not stopped it for the UKBA but that is another matter. The fact is no bonuses, but are these going to be key indicators? Are you going to say to him, as we did not say to SOCA when SOCA was set up, "By the end of the year or each year we expect crime to be at this level, we expect you have done this, that and the other"? What are your key indicators for this post?
Theresa May: There will be a number of indicators on organised crime that will be published within the Home Office’s own business plan and the most appropriate nature of those is being considered at the moment. As you know, Chairman, neither I nor this Government intend to set many detailed targets for individuals or for organisations because I think that doing that can change behaviour and distort behaviour that takes place. So it is necessary that we have a set of indicators but that they are sufficient to be able to allow the flexibility for decisions to be taken, to deliver the outcomes that we want, and that is what we will be focusing on.
Chair: Before we turn to governance, could I just interpose Mr Reckless who has a specific question about policing issues.
Q62 Mark Reckless: Home Secretary, the Police Minister yesterday refused to accept that the White Paper said that the police and crime panels would have a power to trigger a referendum on the policing precept recommended by the commissioner. The clerk has just given you that White Paper. Could you confirm to the Committee that paragraph 2.27 does provide exactly for that and could you tell us when you decided this power would be better exercised by yourself?
Theresa May: I am just checking the document. This was the document we published in July 2010 that was setting out the proposals that we had and the operation of the police and crime panels. You will be aware, Mr Reckless, because you were heavily involved in the movement of the Bill through the committee stage and through this House, that a number of changes were made to the operation of the police and crime panels during that operation. As part of the discussions that we held following the publication of the White Paper and the considerations that came as a result of that, the decision was taken to change the suggestion that had been made in the original White Paper.
Q63 Mark Reckless: The coalition agreement in the White Paper provided for the devolution of police finances and it was going to be something determined locally, yet now we see this power is going to be held by Whitehall looking over all these police budgets. The reason given to me by the Police Minister was because the Liberal Democrats had demanded that, but Mr Huppert, who was the spokesman before, and Mr Brake, who took over as their spokesman, and Mr Lamb, who is the Deputy Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, have all denied that.
Theresa May: No, as I understand it, the considerations we looked into-when we were looking at where it was appropriate for the referendum to be set-included conversations with the Department for Communities and Local Government and looking at consistency with their overarching referendum policy where the Secretary of the State sets the cap that leads to the referendum.
Q64 Mark Reckless: I put it to you, Home Secretary, that those discussions were at official level and that this would have set a precedent where a locality can actually determine a tax without the centre having any power to get in the way of that, and officials seem to have put a stop to this.
Theresa May: You refer to officials putting a stop to it. Of course, Ministers took the decision that this was the way we were going to go, that it was consistent with the policy on referendums that was being adopted by the Communities and Local Government Department and therefore it was appropriate, rather than having two different policies operating at local level in relation to this, to adopt the same policy that the DCLG had adopted.
Q65 Mark Reckless: But when you wrote the White Paper and the coalition agreement it said completely the opposite and when I questioned the Minister, Nick Herbert, on 30 March he did not appear to understand the policy and said that the referendum would allow people to choose between the commissioner’s precept and that proposed by the panel. Could you confirm whether or not that is the case?
Theresa May: It will be possible to trigger a referendum but set a cap on the level of precept increase, which will then lead to a referendum being held by local people about the precept that is going to be charged. That is exactly the same as the DCLG.
Q66 Chair: Would it be helpful if I wrote to you and you could perhaps give me an answer in writing?
Theresa May: I am very happy to set all this out in writing.
Chair: Yes, that would be helpful and we can come back to you. Could I just say to colleagues, the Home Secretary does have other pressing engagements and we have kept her longer than anticipated. We had hoped to talk to her about the IT issues and gangs but we will have to save that for another day, because I gather you have to go at 1.45pm. So if you could just concentrate on the National Crime Agency. We will have the Home Secretary back on another occasion to discuss other issues or the Minister for Police to discuss the IT company.
Q67 Alun Michael: I am fascinated by issues of governance and they are often not given enough attention. The example of the banks, which was a debacle that was a failure of governance, taught us the importance of governance if nothing else. In your letter to the Chairman, you said that you were currently considering a number of different options for the governance arrangements for the National Crime Agency. What are the options you are considering?
Theresa May: I will resist the temptation to go into the details on your reference to governance of the banks, which of course related to the governance put in place at Government level as much as anything else. We are looking at a number of options for the sort of body that the NCA could be.
Q68 Alun Michael: Yes. What are the options?
Theresa May: There are a number of options. I am not particularly in favour of a traditional non-departmental public body. There are a number of structures that exist within Whitehall that it would be possible to look at, and we are looking at those.
Q69 Alun Michael: If you cannot at the moment in the pressure of time, could you list the options that you are considering for us in a note perhaps?
Theresa May: Yes, we can look at the options that we are considering.
Chair: This is why we wanted Mr Bristow in, not because you do not have the information, which you clearly do because this is your flagship, but we do think that some of the detail needs to come through. I am sorry, we did not expect the UK Border Agency issue to come out in the way it has and therefore time is limited.
Q70 Michael Ellis: Home Secretary, can you elaborate on how the National Crime Agency’s ability to task police forces will work in practice? Will the strategic policing requirement be the only mechanism by which the National Crime Agency can task police forces or will it have other powers to directly instruct local police forces?
Theresa May: This is exactly one of the issues that will be very high on Keith Bristow’s agenda in terms of issues that he has to look at. I think one of the benefits of having in place as head of the NCA, very soon, somebody who has in his immediate past been a Chief Constable is that he has a great understanding of the interaction between other bodies and local police forces and, of course, is able to discuss these matters at ACPO level with his fellow Chief Constables in relation to this. The intention is that the strategic policing requirement sets out the background so that the various bodies concerned understand the importance of relating to national requirements. What we will need to take a decision on in due course is whether the legislation itself has any reference in it to the ability of the National Crime Agency to task at police force level. I would imagine that in most circumstances the tasking will be undertaken, as it is today, as a matter of consensus between the various bodies. The question for us will be whether we need that legislative backup.
Q71 Michael Ellis: If there was a breakdown in consensus, for example between a police and crime commissioner and the National Crime Agency about the allocation of resources, for example training officers in public order, how would that be likely to be resolved?
Theresa May: The resolution of these matters will depend to a great extent on the sort of matter that one is talking about. If one is talking about tasking in what I imagine will be its more normal context, which is in a specific operation, looking to task specific assets within a police force because that operation is national but obviously has a local or regional impact, then that is one matter. The example that you have identified, if I may say, Mr Ellis, is a wider issue about whether there is a number placed on something like the number of police who should be trained in public order and the number of PSUs available. That very specific issue about what should happen in terms of public order, of course, is now being looked at by HMIC.
Q72 Chair: What is the budget of the NCA at the moment? What is the proposed budget?
Theresa May: The budget of the NCA will bring together the budgets of various other organisations. There are some aspects of its budget that are yet to be finalised. There are some points where it will be bringing in operations from the NPIA. I am not able to give you an absolute figure at this time because some of these are still being finalised, Chairman. As we will be up and running in 2013, one or two of those aspects may change before then, as you might imagine.
Chair: Well, we do not want to overstretch the budget when the agency is not even there.
Q73 Mr Winnick: Home Secretary, on counter-terrorism, the Met has taken the lead all the time, probably from the beginning, when dealing with the terrorist threat. Do you see any advantage of a National Crime Agency taking on the lead responsibility for counter-terrorism after the Olympics?
Theresa May: I have been absolutely clear, Mr Winnick, that we should do nothing to change the arrangements in relation to national responsibility for counter-terrorism before the Olympics and, indeed, I think before the National Crime Agency is up and running. At that point in time I think it will be right to look at counter-terrorism and to decide where it is appropriate for counter-terrorism to sit in terms of national responsibility.
Q74 Mr Winnick: Do you have any particular views at this moment in time of what should happen after the Olympics? When you say "we will look", presumably you have already looked to some extent, inevitably, at this matter?
Theresa May: The decision we have taken is that it is not right to make any change to the way our counter-terrorism policing is done before the Olympics.
Mr Winnick: I understand that.
Theresa May: Therefore, we have not made the assessment of where counter-terrorism policing should sit. I think it is right that that is done when the NCA is up and running because there will be issues about interaction with other parts of the NCA and therefore where it is appropriate for CT policing to sit.
Q75 Steve McCabe: I am bit loth to ask this, actually. You have had so many mishandling experiences recently you remind me of a Scottish goalkeeper. It is a joke, Home Secretary. I knew you would not get it. What are the measures by which we are going to judge the National Crime Agency? You have said in the past that you have very clear ideas about the measures on which you should be judged. What are the measures on which we are going to judge your agency?
Theresa May: As I indicated in relation to the Chairman earlier, we will be setting out a number of organised crime indicators, which will be available, will be published and people will see those. We are working on the details of those at the current time but in due course those will be available to the Committee.
Chair: We now turn to the IT company. The other reason why you are here is that we would have liked Lord Wasserman to come-Lord Wasserman has been busying himself hosting dinners for Bill Bratton, speaking on behalf of Ministers at various seminars-but you kindly agreed to come in his place. We have only five minutes for IT so can we start on IT and then end with your question. You will have to be very fast, Dr Huppert.
Q76 Dr Huppert: I will be very quick. What is the progress on setting up the new police-led IT company and do you still think it will be up and running by spring 2012?
Theresa May: Yes, I do. Progress has been made and the new company will be legally separate from the Home Office. There is still a lot of work being done by lawyers and accountants and others about the exact nature of the company and how it will operate. Of course, crucially, work is being done with police forces about ensuring that they are fully aware of the opportunity that this company provides and that they are comfortable with the nature of the company and how it is being put in place. But I am confident that it will be possible for it to be up and running in spring 2012.
Q77 Chair: It is mooted that the chairman is going to get a salary of £500,000. Have you heard these rumours?
Theresa May: I think that was a rumour that was somewhere in the press, Mr Chairman.
Q78 Chair: But this is not going to happen?
Theresa May: That is not something that has come from me or any Minister, as far as I am aware. It is not something that I have seen in any papers in relation to this Committee, so I am not aware of the source of that.
Chair: It is certainly not Mr Reckless, who has been very assiduous on
Q79 Mark Reckless: Home Secretary, can you clarify the governance and funding of this IT company?
Theresa May: Yes. The point is that it will be set up as a separate company that will be owned by the police forces, and it will be operating, therefore, to the police forces in response to their IT needs. I think it is right that we do that. We have 43 police forces in this country, currently employing 5,000 staff operating 2,000 separate IT systems. I think there is much that can be done to improve the IT services that are available to the police and to save money. It will not require additional funding. The way funding moves between organisations will change once it is set up but it will be that the customers, who will obviously be primarily police forces, will pay the company for the service that it provides.
Q80 Chair: Presumably the people who were responsible for e-borders and the computer system that we commissioned are not the same people who are going to be commissioning this new company?
Theresa May: I am not sure whether you are talking about the corporate sector or the Home Office internal structures, Chairman.
Chair: Well, whoever.
Theresa May: I can assure you that the arrangements in relation to this company are entirely separate from anything that relates to the contract that was let on e-borders.
Chair: Excellent. Dr Huppert has a quick last supplementary on the protest.
Q81 Dr Huppert: This is timely. There is, as you know, a protest march tomorrow happening in London and I understand that rubber bullets and baton rounds have been preauthorised for the first time on the mainland for a planned protest march. I am very concerned about this and the messages that it sends. Would you agree that they should not be used and, if they are, it shows that the police have completely failed to keep control of the situation?
Theresa May: What I am clear about is that it is appropriate that the police have the powers and resources necessary. You said that they have been authorised to use baton rounds. They are already authorised, of course, to use baton rounds should they choose to do so and the police made it clear in the riots in August that that was a consideration that they gave. So this is not something that is new. It is not that the Government has suddenly said that they can; it is that that is available to the police anyway.
Q82 Dr Huppert: As I understand it, you are correct in saying that the Government allows the use, but I believe it also has to be preauthorised by a rather more senior officer. As I say, I understand that for the very first time for a planned protest march that preauthorisation has happened ahead of time.
Theresa May: Sorry, the preauthorisation in the use of baton rounds?
Dr Huppert: By a senior commander in the Met, yes.
Theresa May: As I understand it, the police have those available but they have no plans to deploy.
Q83 Mr Winnick: Would you accept that in a student demonstration that is taking place, as has already been stated this week, it would escalate the situation very much if baton rounds and water cannon were used and there seems to be the utmost reservation on the part of the most senior police officers that such weapons should not be used?
Theresa May: I repeat, baton rounds are available to the police, as they have been in other circumstances. I think the police are very clear that in other circumstances robust policing has been what has dealt with the situation. It has not been necessary to use baton rounds. As I understand it, they have no plans to deploy.
Chair: Home Secretary, as usual you stayed longer than we anticipated and thank you for taking those questions on the UK Border Agency. I will write to you after the meeting with further questions on the UK Border Agency. Could I finally refer you to paragraphs 54 and 55 of our report? I know you are very busy and you have a lot to do, but this is the ongoing interest that we have in this area and we will pursue it. Thank you very much for coming in.