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9.15 pm

Proceedings interrupted (Order, this day).

The Chair put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Order, this day).

New Clause 6

Half-yearly reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner

‘(1) Section 58 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner) is amended as follows.

(2) In subsection (4) (annual reports) after “calendar year” insert “and after the end of the period of six months beginning with the end of each calendar year”.

(3) In subsection (6) (duty to lay annual reports before Parliament) after “annual report” insert “, and every half-yearly report,”.

(4) In subsection (6A) (duty to send annual reports to the First Minister) after “annual report” insert “, and every half-yearly report,”.

(5) In subsection (7) (power to exclude matter from annual reports) after “annual report” insert “, or half-yearly report,”.’.—(James Brokenshire.)

Brought up, and added to the Bill.

Amendments made: 6,in the Title, line 7, after “Act;” insert

“to make provision about additional reports by the Interception of Communications Commissioner;”

Amendment 8, in the Title, line 7, after “Act;” insert

“to make provision about a review of the operation and regulation of investigatory powers;”.—(James Brokenshire.)

This amendment is consequential on NC7.

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Bill, as amended, reported.

Bill, as amended in the Committee, considered.

Third Reading.

9.15 pm

Mrs May: I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Third time.

We have had a lively and constructive debate today on the urgent need to ensure that communications data continue to be retained, and to clarify the law in respect of interception for communications service providers.

I thank all those who have contributed to the Bill during its various stages so far. I also want to place on record my gratitude to those who have recognised both the need for this legislation and the reason it is so important that we see it enacted quickly.

We discussed the Bill earlier today on Second Reading and it has just been scrutinised in Committee. I thank the Opposition for the support they have given to the Bill and their recognition of the importance of the issues it deals with. I also thank the Clerks of the House and all those involved in supporting us and enabling us to do this business in one day. Particular thanks are due to my hon. Friend the Minister for Security and Immigration for the excellent job he has done in taking the Bill through its Committee stage, and to the right hon. Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson) for his contributions on behalf of the Opposition.

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I do not want to rehearse in detail all the arguments that have been made, but I remind Members that the Bill deals with two urgent issues, including the response to the European Court of Justice decision in April, which struck down the European data retention directive. That has created uncertainty among communications service providers about the legal basis for the retention of communications data in the UK, which is a crucial resort for law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Dr Julian Lewis: I am sure the Home Secretary knows that I am, in general, supportive of the Bill, but, in the light of the vote we have just taken, what sort of guarantee can she offer the House that the same European Court that struck down the previous situation will not strike down this Bill as well?

Mrs May: As I indicated earlier, and as I think others have indicated during the course of the various debates we have had today, the European Court of Justice did not strike down the ability to retain data. It recognised that the ability to retain data was necessary and it recognised purposes for which those data could be retained. What it did in its judgment was say that the data retention directive was drafted too broadly and it challenged its scope.

Of course, it was always the case that regulations here in the United Kingdom had been drawn more tightly and narrowly than the data retention directive. We are able to put through this Bill with confidence because not only were our data retention regulations drafted in a way that met many of the issues that the ECJ raised, but we have made some changes to ensure that we meet the extra requirements that the ECJ made on us. That is what gives us confidence in the future of this legislation.

We have heard a number of examples today of how important it is to have the ability to retain and access communications data. It is vital for piecing together the activities of suspects, victims and vulnerable people, and ensuring that serious criminals and terrorists can be brought to justice. This Bill will clarify the legal basis for us to oblige communications service providers to continue retaining communications data.

At the same time, we need to put beyond doubt the legal obligation on companies that provide services to people in the UK to comply with our laws on interception, regardless of where they are based. As we know, communications services used by us all are increasingly provided to the UK by companies based outside the country. Interception, which can take place only within strict limits and with a warrant authorised by the Secretary of State, can prove vital when investigating the most dangerous criminals or defending the security of the United Kingdom.

In the absence of explicit provisions in legislation, some overseas companies have started to question whether the law applies to them, so we are clarifying the law. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 was always intended to apply to any company providing communications services to the UK, as the provisions in the Bill make absolutely clear. The Bill does not introduce new powers, or extend the reach of law enforcement or security and intelligence agencies in any way. It responds to the European judgment, clarifies the

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existing provisions of RIPA and ensures that the police and security and intelligence agencies can maintain essential capabilities to fight crime and protect the public.

The Bill does not replicate the draft Communications Data Bill. As I have said several times, I continue to believe that its measures are absolutely necessary, but this Bill is not about what was in the draft Bill; it is about ensuring that we retain the capabilities we have at the moment. It will be for the next Parliament to debate other extensions in relation to communications data, as in the draft Bill. We know that that debate will take place because this Bill has been “sunsetted”. It will therefore be necessary for the Government to look at the issues after the election. Indeed, that will be on the basis of informed debate, following the review undertaken by David Anderson, as agreed.

The Bill will ensure that the job of those who protect us does not get even more difficult; that they can continue to use powers that are part of everyday policing; that they remain able to find vulnerable people at risk or in danger; and that they can maintain the use of vital capabilities to solve crime, save lives and protect the public from harm. It will ensure that our police, law enforcement agencies and security and intelligence agencies have the capabilities to do that. I now invite the House to pass the Bill and send it to the other place, and I commend it to the House.

9.22 pm

Yvette Cooper: We have had the Second Reading and four hours of debate in Committee, and we have now reached Third Reading. I, too, pay tribute on behalf of the Opposition to my right hon. Friend the Member for Delyn (Mr Hanson), who has been in the Chamber since 12.30 pm, as well as to the Minister for Security and Immigration, who has probably not even had a chance to have a cup of tea, and to the hon. Member for Cambridge (Dr Huppert), who when not popping up and down to speak, has been glued to his seat for many hours.

Many hon. Members have been present for several hours for a very thoughtful debate on such important legislation, but inevitably the debate has been limited. Many of the concerns raised today have been about the process—about the lack of time not only to debate the Bill, but to consider it further. I hope that the Government recognise that the process has undermined confidence. For that confidence to be restored, it will be particularly important for the Government to take steps on the implementation of the review and the wider safeguards.

Some Members have raised concerns about the retention of any data at all. The vast majority, however, have recognised the value of data retention in tackling serious crime, abuse and terrorism, and in protecting our children, but want the right kinds of safeguards to be put in place. Most Members recognise the need for Parliament to take action and to pass legislation before the summer break, because we do not want suddenly to prevent the police and the intelligence agencies to have access, under warrant, to the information on which they normally depend in investigating organised crime and fraud, identifying those abusing children online and building intelligence to foil terrorist activity.

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I do not want to repeat the points I made on Second Reading about the Bill, the safeguards and the wider debate, but I will briefly cover some of the points made throughout the debates this afternoon. Some have raised concern about whether the Bill does what it says on the tin, to use the words of my right hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle (Alan Johnson)—whether it simply replicates existing capabilities or extends them. The Government have repeatedly made it clear that the purpose of the Bill is to maintain existing capabilities and, indeed, to restrict them in line with the ECJ judgment. I am glad that the Government agreed to our amendments that were designed to ensure that that is the case. They require six-monthly reports on the operation of the Act to ensure that its implementation does not go further in any way.

As I argued earlier, many of the areas of concern that hon. Members have raised are not about the specifics of the legislation, but about the wider framework that governs communications data and interception. That is why we have called for a much broader review of the powers, safeguards and operations in the light of changing technologies and threats. I am glad that the Government agreed to our proposal that the review that we called for should be put on a statutory footing.

Nobody should underestimate the importance of that review, because we cannot keep passing sticking-plaster legislation, we cannot carry on with business as usual, and we cannot carry on with the current framework when new technology is overtaking it. Nor should anybody just hope that these issues will go away once today’s debates are finished, because they will not and they cannot. The changing technology, changing attitudes, changing expectations and changing threats mean that Parliament needs to keep up.

I hope that Members who have argued about the different aspects of the legislation, who have taken different views on aspects of the legislation or who have even disagreed with the legislation will come together to contribute to the review, to decide what the next steps should be and to take part in the wider debate that we need about security and liberty in the internet age. In the end, these issues go to the heart of our democracy. We need both security and liberty. If we do not feel safe or secure on our streets or online, we are not free, but if security is absolute, we lose that precious freedom for which people have fought for generations. We will not all agree on how to sustain both, we will not all agree on how to get the balance right, and our constituents will not all agree either. However, the debate itself is healthy and vital, and I suspect that there will be rather more consensus than most people think.

I hope that we can finally agree on three things today: first, that the wider debate is needed to keep up with the changing world and to ensure that there is public confidence and consent for the vital work that the police and agencies do; secondly, that this last-minute process has not been a good one, and that we really should not do it again; and thirdly, that this temporary legislation, with its safeguards, really is needed in the short term, and that we should pass it tonight.

9.27 pm

Dr Huppert: At the end of this rather long day, I want to reflect briefly on where we are in this area. There is a tension between privacy and security. As I have said, it

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is not a question of having one or the other; we can have both. I do not believe that those who are more concerned about security want to ride roughshod over privacy and civil liberties. Equally, those of us who are passionate about privacy and civil liberties care about security. We can have both and we need to work on both. There will be differences in the relative weighting that we place on each.

Let me go back to 2012, when we had the Home Secretary’s draft Communications Data Bill, which was the son of the previous Government’s interception modernisation programme. The Home Secretary has been very clear that she believes that we should have that Bill. We, as partners in the coalition Government, insisted that it be only a draft Bill. A Committee went through it carefully—a process that took many months—and we vetoed it because the Committee was very critical. Had we not had that process, there may well have been no need for this piece of fast-track legislation, because we would have had the communications data Bill and it would have covered many of the things that were required. However, it would have been far more intrusive and of questionable security value.

All that was before the Snowden period, when we found out what was happening. What has the House done to reflect the concerns that people have about privacy, data and surveillance? We have had one debate in Westminster Hall, which I managed to secure, in which neither Front Bencher supported the calls for massive reform of RIPA, although many Members from all parties did so. There has been one Bill in the House on this subject, which was introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr Heath). Of course, like most private Members’ Bills, it did not make any progress. This House has failed to have the discussions and debates that have happened in the US, Germany and many other places.

That leads directly to the scepticism about the Bill that many people feel. There is a track record and people have developed concerns over many years. For decades we have had claims from the Government, again and again, about what is needed for security. So many clichés—the old lines: if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear. Every reference to everything is justified by a reference to terrorists or paedophiles. Of course those matter and are serious, but they are not the same as proper evidence-based arguments about what is needed and is proportionate.

I understand the concern that many members of the public and in the House feel about this subject and this legislation, but the Bill deals with a genuine problem and replaces existing powers that the state already has with powers that are the same or lesser. Ministers have been clear that that is the intention. There is no question that somebody in the future will look back at this debate and believe there has been any intention to widen powers, and time after time we have heard that on the record. There has been debate about whether the law can be challenged under the ECHR. It can certainly be challenged; laws can always be challenged, and if it turns out that there are problems with it, I am sure they will be addressed. However, I do not think that will happen.

On the flipside, we have covered what would be a genuine crisis to ensure that we can continue with our security levels, and we have made extra gains that put us

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in a better place from a privacy and civil liberties perspective. The sunset clause will focus people and force the review to happen, and we will finally get a proper long-term detailed piece of work on how we can have better legislation. That will take years to get right, but we must get it right.

We have a privacy and civil liberties oversight board to ensure that those concerns are seriously considered as policy is developed and looked after, developing the existing role of David Anderson QC. The Bill will be more powerful than he has been able to be. A senior diplomat will try to come up with a better way of dealing with the international problems that we are all struggling with. We would all like a better model, and pushing ahead with that will make a big difference. We will see reductions in access. Fewer organisations will be able to get access to information which, coupled with a reduction in the maximum time limit for which data can be held, will mean more protection for all of us overall. We will have transparency reports so that we know what is going on and why, and can have far more informed debates here and in public.

This has not been an easy process and I pay tribute to everybody involved, of all different views. I had the privilege of being involved in a number of those discussions, and it has been difficult for many people in this House. However, I think the Bill has dealt with security problems while boosting—a bit at least to start with—privacy and civil liberties. As has been reported in many places, this will be seen in years to come as a time when the House said, “We must tackle this and ensure we get it right.”

9.32 pm

Caroline Lucas: For the sake of completeness I want to say a few words having sat here not quite as long as some of my honourable colleagues, although it feels like a long time. Those of us who opposed the process and content of the legislation have clearly lost the debate tonight, but none of us has been convinced by the arguments we have heard. We have not been convinced that there is a case for the kind of emergency that would require legislation being railroaded through the House in one day, and we have not heard anything that persuades us that the Bill does not go further than the status quo. We believe that it does go further than the status quo, particularly where extraterritoriality is concerned. Blanket data retention not being permitted by the European Court of Justice is the key element to many of the debates over the past few hours. Many of us who have stood by the position that it is precisely the blanket data retention that is not permitted by the ECJ are still concerned that the Court’s position will be contradicted by the Bill, and I imagine we may find that that is a problem in the months to come.

The shadow Home Secretary said that she hoped we would agree on three things. First, she hoped we would agree that this debate is needed for public confidence and consent. I certainly agree that this debate is needed, but not in the space of a day. I argue that precisely by trying to rush this Bill through in a day, we are utterly undermining public confidence and consent. I certainly agree with her second point that the last minute process was not good.

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Her third point—her claim that this temporary legislation is necessary—was her most important point. I argue very strongly that, in all the debates we have heard this afternoon, that case has not been made. The case for a six month sunset clause not being effective has not been made. Others have made the case that a sunset clause is supposed to concentrate minds and that in two-and-a-half years it will suddenly deliver things that a six month sunset clause could not deliver. That position does not stand up to scrutiny. A sunset clause in December would concentrate minds in the same way and we should have focused on that.

What I worry about most of all is that the debate will have lost some of the confidence in this place. I think that many people who have been watching this debate are deeply concerned about what they perceive to be an issue of such importance being treated with such contempt and about the Orwellian doublespeak that we have heard throughout the past few hours.

9.35 pm

Sir Edward Garnier (Harborough) (Con): Following on from the hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas), I fear that there is no such thing as a perfect piece of legislation. None the less, what we have produced today, albeit in some considerable speed, is a Bill entirely worthy of the support of the entire House. I hope that the other place will permit it to get on to the statute book as soon as possible. I just have one point of interest that I wish to raise with those with on the Front Bench. I am not sure whether a member of the Home Office team will be responding to the debate, but perhaps somebody could write to me when they have a moment.

Under clause 4, which deals with extraterritoriality, it is quite clear that there are companies providing telecommunications services that will have a place of business or somebody in this jurisdiction who will be able to accept service of an interception warrant and so come within the terms of the statute. My only concern—it is not a concern that will destroy the Bill in any way at all—is practical. There may well be some telecommunications providers external to this jurisdiction that do not have a place of business in this country and do not have someone on whom an interception warrant can be served. Therefore, they will, like so many other aspects of extraterritorial law, not be susceptible to this legislation.

I am assuming—I put this in the interrogative—that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will be having discussions, or has already had discussions, with her overseas counterparts to make sure that overseas jurisdictions will co-operate, if we ask them to, to ensure that those overseas companies comply with the terms of this legislation as a matter of comity, if for no other reason. It strikes me that there is a lacuna, perhaps a very small lacuna, which may not be capable of being dealt with, but which none the less needs to be thought about.

9.38 pm

John McDonnell: The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) said that those of us who oppose the Bill lost the debate today. I do not think we did. We lost the vote, but the debate will continue on a number of fronts. That Parliament can countenance

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legislation as important as this going through in such a hurried and ill-informed way—to be frank—has opened up a debate about its relevance and role. It will open the debate on the detail of the Bill: the regulations and the guidance we have yet to see—it was not published in advance of the debate—but which will be significantly important to its implementation. It will also open up the debate on whether the Bill meets the compliance criteria set out in the judgment against the previous directive. I think we will very quickly see a further challenge. We may be back here soon with more proposals for emergency legislation to address a further legal challenge.

I do not, therefore, think that the debate ends here. I think it actually starts here. It would have been more effective if we had had the time to have a proper debate and a sunset clause with a short period of time. That would have focused the attention of Parliament, rather than the drift into what I think will be the first stage in a wider debate on, perhaps, the resurrection of the communications Bill proposals that the Government, or one element of the coalition, brought forward earlier in their period of office.

Mr Frank Field (Birkenhead) (Lab): I have a constituent who came down to London from Liverpool airport, where he worked, to try to gain knowledge as to how one could increase access to the airport for people with disabilities. That was on the day of the London bombings. He was a great rugby player but when he finally went back to Birkenhead, he did so without both of his legs. How do I justify to him a Bill that says that phone records should be kept in case they form some pattern that somebody wishes to investigate? How could I, preciously, say that that is more important than my constituent’s legs?

John McDonnell: We have to clarify whether the implications of the Bill would have persisted in that case. A number of us are not convinced that there is a case. More importantly, in terms of parliamentary process, we could be in a situation where, literally within weeks, this legislation could be struck down again. We have rushed a procedure where we have arrived at legislation in which many do not have confidence but which is also seriously vulnerable to a challenge again. If we had taken the time and had a sunset clause that forced the pace to an extent—such as by the end of the year—we could have come back with more effective legislation that would have given my hon. Friend’s constituent more of an assurance that it would be effective in tackling those sorts of terrible crimes. That is why a number of us were offended by the speed of the legislation, which can result in ineffective legislation at the end of the day.

Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP): The hon. Gentleman expresses a lot of the concerns that are felt even by those of us who wish to see effective security legislation in place. Does he agree that had the Government acted when they knew that there was a challenge to the legislation, all of what he is asking for now could have been done?

John McDonnell: What I found extraordinary was the argument that a sunset clause for the end of this year would not have given us sufficient time to produce

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adequate legislation. Yet that is almost the same passage of time that the Government had to produce today’s Bill—from April to July. If we cannot produce adequate legislation in the next five months, how have the Government managed to produce adequate legislation within that three-month period?

If the Government and coalition had been more open and transparent, and had undertaken a full and open consultation—and brought a draft Bill to the House—we would have had an opportunity to secure legislation that I believe would have been effective and would have had the support of the wider community. That would have given confidence to the constituent of my right hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr Field) that we were really tackling terrorism, rather than simply going through an exercise to comply with a European Court of Justice judgment.

I repeat what a number of Members have said. This is no way to legislate. I agree with my right hon. Friend the shadow Home Secretary that this must be the last time we ever address an important issue in this way. If this is about coalition partners falling out, that is the weakest excuse for not being more open and transparent to the House about the problems we have to address.

I am fearful also that this is the foot in the door towards bringing back the communications legislation that was proposed previously. Many of my constituents have expressed the view that this is the start of widening the vista of snooping legislation. On that basis, I think it was important to have had the debate today and to put the Government on guard that the House will not tolerate being bounced into this type of legislation again.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

The House divided:

Ayes 449, Noes 33.

Division No. 39]

[

9.43 pm

AYES

Abrahams, Debbie

Afriyie, Adam

Aldous, Peter

Alexander, rh Mr Douglas

Alexander, Heidi

Ali, Rushanara

Allen, Mr Graham

Amess, Mr David

Andrew, Stuart

Arbuthnot, rh Mr James

Ashworth, Jonathan

Austin, Ian

Bailey, Mr Adrian

Bain, Mr William

Baker, Norman

Baldry, rh Sir Tony

Balls, rh Ed

Banks, Gordon

Barclay, Stephen

Barker, rh Gregory

Barron, rh Kevin

Bayley, Hugh

Bebb, Guto

Beckett, rh Margaret

Begg, Dame Anne

Beith, rh Sir Alan

Benn, rh Hilary

Benton, Mr Joe

Benyon, Richard

Beresford, Sir Paul

Berger, Luciana

Berry, Jake

Betts, Mr Clive

Bingham, Andrew

Birtwistle, Gordon

Blackman, Bob

Blackman-Woods, Roberta

Blackwood, Nicola

Blears, rh Hazel

Blenkinsop, Tom

Blomfield, Paul

Boles, Nick

Bottomley, Sir Peter

Bradley, Karen

Bradshaw, rh Mr Ben

Brady, Mr Graham

Bray, Angie

Brazier, Mr Julian

Brennan, Kevin

Bridgen, Andrew

Brine, Steve

Brokenshire, James

Brown, Lyn

Brown, Mr Russell

Browne, Mr Jeremy

Bruce, Fiona

Bruce, rh Sir Malcolm

Bryant, Chris

Buck, Ms Karen

Buckland, Mr Robert

Burden, Richard

Burnham, rh Andy

Burns, rh Mr Simon

Burrowes, Mr David

Burt, rh Alistair

Burt, Lorely

Byles, Dan

Byrne, rh Mr Liam

Cable, rh Vince

Cairns, Alun

Campbell, rh Mr Alan

Campbell, rh Sir Menzies

Carmichael, rh Mr Alistair

Carmichael, Neil

Caton, Martin

Champion, Sarah

Chapman, Jenny

Chishti, Rehman

Clarke, rh Mr Tom

Clegg, rh Mr Nick

Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey

Coaker, Vernon

Coffey, Ann

Coffey, Dr Thérèse

Collins, Damian

Connarty, Michael

Cooper, Rosie

Cooper, rh Yvette

Cox, Mr Geoffrey

Crabb, Stephen

Crausby, Mr David

Creagh, Mary

Creasy, Stella

Crockart, Mike

Crouch, Tracey

Cruddas, Jon

Cryer, John

Cunningham, Alex

Cunningham, Mr Jim

Cunningham, Sir Tony

Curran, Margaret

Dakin, Nic

Danczuk, Simon

David, Wayne

Davidson, Mr Ian

Davies, David T. C.

(Monmouth)

Davies, Geraint

Davies, Glyn

De Piero, Gloria

Denham, rh Mr John

Dinenage, Caroline

Djanogly, Mr Jonathan

Docherty, Thomas

Dodds, rh Mr Nigel

Donohoe, Mr Brian H.

Doughty, Stephen

Dowd, Jim

Doyle, Gemma

Doyle-Price, Jackie

Drax, Richard

Dromey, Jack

Duddridge, James

Duncan, rh Mr Alan

Eagle, Ms Angela

Eagle, Maria

Efford, Clive

Elliott, Julie

Ellis, Michael

Ellman, Mrs Louise

Ellwood, Mr Tobias

Elphicke, Charlie

Esterson, Bill

Eustice, George

Evans, Chris

Evans, Graham

Evans, Jonathan

Evennett, Mr David

Fabricant, Michael

Featherstone, Lynne

Field, rh Mr Frank

Field, Mark

Fitzpatrick, Jim

Flello, Robert

Flint, rh Caroline

Flynn, Paul

Foster, rh Mr Don

Francis, Dr Hywel

Francois, rh Mr Mark

Freeman, George

Freer, Mike

Fuller, Richard

Gapes, Mike

Gardiner, Barry

Garnier, Sir Edward

Garnier, Mark

Gauke, Mr David

Gibb, Mr Nick

Glass, Pat

Glen, John

Glindon, Mrs Mary

Goodman, Helen

Goodwill, Mr Robert

Gove, rh Michael

Graham, Richard

Gray, Mr James

Grayling, rh Chris

Green, rh Damian

Green, Kate

Greening, rh Justine

Greenwood, Lilian

Griffith, Nia

Gummer, Ben

Gwynne, Andrew

Gyimah, Mr Sam

Hague, rh Mr William

Halfon, Robert

Hamilton, Mr David

Hands, rh Greg

Hanson, rh Mr David

Harper, Mr Mark

Harrington, Richard

Harris, Rebecca

Hart, Simon

Harvey, Sir Nick

Haselhurst, rh Sir Alan

Havard, Mr Dai

Hayes, rh Mr John

Heald, Oliver

Healey, rh John

Heath, Mr David

Heaton-Harris, Chris

Henderson, Gordon

Hendrick, Mark

Hendry, Charles

Herbert, rh Nick

Heyes, David

Hillier, Meg

Hilling, Julie

Hinds, Damian

Hoban, Mr Mark

Hodgson, Mrs Sharon

Hollingbery, George

Hollobone, Mr Philip

Howarth, rh Mr George

Howell, John

Hughes, rh Simon

Hunt, rh Mr Jeremy

Huppert, Dr Julian

Irranca-Davies, Huw

Jackson, Glenda

James, Margot

James, Mrs Siân C.

Jamieson, Cathy

Jarvis, Dan

Johnson, rh Alan

Johnson, Diana

Johnson, Gareth

Johnson, Joseph

Jones, Andrew

Jones, rh Mr David

Jones, Graham

Jones, Helen

Jones, Mr Kevan

Jones, Mr Marcus

Jones, Susan Elan

Kane, Mike

Keeley, Barbara

Kelly, Chris

Kendall, Liz

Kennedy, rh Mr Charles

Knight, rh Sir Greg

Kwarteng, Kwasi

Lamb, Norman

Lammy, rh Mr David

Lancaster, Mark

Latham, Pauline

Leadsom, Andrea

Lee, Jessica

Lee, Dr Phillip

Leech, Mr John

Lefroy, Jeremy

Leigh, Sir Edward

Leslie, Charlotte

Leslie, Chris

Letwin, rh Mr Oliver

Lewell-Buck, Mrs Emma

Lewis, Brandon

Lewis, Mr Ivan

Lewis, Dr Julian

Liddell-Grainger, Mr Ian

Lilley, rh Mr Peter

Lloyd, Stephen

Lopresti, Jack

Loughton, Tim

Love, Mr Andrew

Lucas, Ian

Luff, Sir Peter

Lumley, Karen

Macleod, Mary

Mactaggart, Fiona

Mahmood, Mr Khalid

Mahmood, Shabana

Malhotra, Seema

Mann, John

Marsden, Mr Gordon

May, rh Mrs Theresa

Maynard, Paul

McCabe, Steve

McCann, Mr Michael

McCarthy, Kerry

McClymont, Gregg

McCrea, Dr William

McDonald, Andy

McFadden, rh Mr Pat

McGovern, Alison

McGovern, Jim

McGuire, rh Mrs Anne

McIntosh, Miss Anne

McKechin, Ann

McKenzie, Mr Iain

McKinnell, Catherine

Meale, Sir Alan

Menzies, Mark

Metcalfe, Stephen

Miller, Andrew

Miller, rh Maria

Mills, Nigel

Milton, Anne

Moon, Mrs Madeleine

Mordaunt, Penny

Morden, Jessica

Morgan, rh Nicky

Morrice, Graeme

(Livingston)

Morris, Anne Marie

Morris, David

Morris, James

Mosley, Stephen

Mowat, David

Mulholland, Greg

Munn, Meg

Munt, Tessa

Murphy, rh Paul

Murray, Ian

Murray, Sheryll

Murrison, Dr Andrew

Nandy, Lisa

Nash, Pamela

Newmark, Mr Brooks

Newton, Sarah

Nokes, Caroline

Norman, Jesse

Nuttall, Mr David

O'Brien, rh Mr Stephen

O'Donnell, Fiona

Offord, Dr Matthew

Ollerenshaw, Eric

Onwurah, Chi

Opperman, Guy

Ottaway, rh Sir Richard

Owen, Albert

Paice, rh Sir James

Parish, Neil

Patel, Priti

Pawsey, Mark

Pearce, Teresa

Penning, rh Mike

Penrose, John

Percy, Andrew

Perkins, Toby

Perry, Claire

Phillips, Stephen

Phillipson, Bridget

Pickles, rh Mr Eric

Pincher, Christopher

Pound, Stephen

Prisk, Mr Mark

Pugh, John

Randall, rh Sir John

Raynsford, rh Mr Nick

Redwood, rh Mr John

Reed, Mr Jamie

Reed, Mr Steve

Rees-Mogg, Jacob

Reevell, Simon

Reeves, Rachel

Reid, Mr Alan

Reynolds, Jonathan

Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm

Robathan, rh Mr Andrew

Robertson, John

Robertson, Mr Laurence

Robinson, Mr Geoffrey

Rogerson, Dan

Rotheram, Steve

Roy, Lindsay

Ruane, Chris

Rudd, Amber

Ruffley, Mr David

Russell, Sir Bob

Rutley, David

Sandys, Laura

Sawford, Andy

Seabeck, Alison

Selous, Andrew

Shannon, Jim

Sharma, Alok

Sharma, Mr Virendra

Sheerman, Mr Barry

Shelbrooke, Alec

Shuker, Gavin

Simmonds, Mark

Simpson, David

Simpson, Mr Keith

Skidmore, Chris

Smith, rh Mr Andrew

Smith, Angela

Smith, Chloe

Smith, Henry

Smith, Julian

Smith, Nick

Smith, Owen

Smith, Sir Robert

Soames, rh Sir Nicholas

Spellar, rh Mr John

Stephenson, Andrew

Stevenson, John

Stewart, Bob

Stewart, Iain

Stewart, Rory

Straw, rh Mr Jack

Streeter, Mr Gary

Stride, Mel

Stringer, Graham

Stuart, Ms Gisela

Stuart, Mr Graham

Stunell, rh Sir Andrew

Sturdy, Julian

Sutcliffe, Mr Gerry

Swayne, rh Mr Desmond

Swinson, Jo

Tami, Mark

Teather, Sarah

Thornberry, Emily

Thurso, John

Timms, rh Stephen

Timpson, Mr Edward

Tomlinson, Justin

Trickett, Jon

Turner, Karl

Twigg, Derek

Twigg, Stephen

Umunna, Mr Chuka

Uppal, Paul

Vara, Mr Shailesh

Vaz, Valerie

Vickers, Martin

Villiers, rh Mrs Theresa

Walker, Mr Robin

Wallace, Mr Ben

Walley, Joan

Walter, Mr Robert

Ward, Mr David

Weatherley, Mike

Webb, Steve

Wharton, James

Wheeler, Heather

White, Chris

Whitehead, Dr Alan

Whittaker, Craig

Whittingdale, Mr John

Willetts, rh Mr David

Williams, Mr Mark

Williams, Stephen

Williamson, Gavin

Willott, Jenny

Wilson, Phil

Wilson, Mr Rob

Wilson, Sammy

Winterton, rh Ms Rosie

Wollaston, Dr Sarah

Woodcock, John

Woodward, rh Mr Shaun

Wright, David

Wright, Mr Iain

Wright, Jeremy

Wright, Simon

Yeo, Mr Tim

Young, rh Sir George

Zahawi, Nadhim

Tellers for the Ayes:

Gavin Barwell

and

Harriett Baldwin

NOES

Abbott, Ms Diane

Bone, Mr Peter

Campbell, Mr Ronnie

Clark, Katy

Davis, rh Mr David

Durkan, Mark

Edwards, Jonathan

Hemming, John

Hoey, Kate

Hopkins, Kelvin

Hosie, Stewart

Joyce, Eric

Lavery, Ian

Lazarowicz, Mark

Llwyd, rh Mr Elfyn

Long, Naomi

Lucas, Caroline

MacNeil, Mr Angus Brendan

McDonnell, Dr Alasdair

Morris, Grahame M.

(Easington)

Mudie, Mr George

Ritchie, Ms Margaret

Robertson, Angus

Sanders, Mr Adrian

Sheridan, Jim

Skinner, Mr Dennis

Turner, Mr Andrew

Watson, Mr Tom

Weir, Mr Mike

Whiteford, Dr Eilidh

Williams, Hywel

Winnick, Mr David

Wishart, Pete

Tellers for the Noes:

John McDonnell

and

Jeremy Corbyn

Question accordingly agreed to.

15 July 2014 : Column 831

15 July 2014 : Column 832

15 July 2014 : Column 833

15 July 2014 : Column 834

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed.

Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Employment

That the draft Gangmasters (Licensing Authority) Regulations 2014, which were laid before this House on 9 June, be approved. —(Gavin Barwell.)

The Speaker’s opinion as to the decision of the Question being challenged, the Division was deferred until Wednesday 16 July (Standing Order No. 41A).

Mr Speaker: With the leave of the House, we shall take motions 6 to 8 on legal services together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Legal Services

That the draft Legal Services Act 2007 (Appeals from Licensing Authority Decisions) (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) Order 2014, which was laid before this House on 9 June, be approved.

That the draft Legal Services Act 2007 (Appeals from Licensing Authority Decisions) (Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys and Institute of Trade Mark Attorneys) Order 2014, which was laid before this House on 9 June, be approved.

That the draft Legal Services Act 2007 (Approved Regulator) Order 2014, which was laid before this House on 16 June, be approved. —(Gavin Barwell.)

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Terms and Conditions of Employment

That the draft Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2014, which were laid before this House on 23 June, be approved. —(Gavin Barwell.)

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Housing

That the draft Redress Schemes for Lettings Agency Work and Property Management Work (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc) (England) Order 2014, which was laid before this House on 23 June, be approved. —(Gavin Barwell.)

Question agreed to.

Mr Speaker: With the leave of the House, we shall take motions 11 and 12 on banks and banking together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

15 July 2014 : Column 835

Banks and Banking

That the draft Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Excluded Activities and Prohibitions) Order 2014, which was laid before this House on 25 June, be approved.

That the draft Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Ring-fenced Bodies and Core Activities) Order 2014, which was laid before this House on 25 June, be approved. —(Gavin Barwell.)

Question agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Video Recordings

That the draft Video Recordings Act 1984 (Exempted Video Works) Regulations 2014, which were laid before this House on 30 June, be approved. —(Gavin Barwell.)

Question agreed to.

Electoral Commission

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6), and Order, 2 July),

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will reappoint as Electoral Commissioners–

(1) Lord Horam with effect from 1 October 2014 for the period ending on 30 September 2018; and

(2) David Howarth with effect from 1 October 2014 for the period ending on 30 September 2018. —(Gavin Barwell.)

Question agreed to.

15 July 2014 : Column 836

Attempted Suicides (Police Responsibilities)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—(Gavin Barwell.)

10 pm

Mrs Madeleine Moon (Bridgend) (Lab): Let me take this opportunity to welcome the Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims to his new role and congratulate him on his promotion. If ever there was a Minister who will understand the issues I want to raise, it will be this Minister, who in his previous role as a firefighter will have come across the very issues that I hope he is eager to support me in addressing.

Let me set the background for the Minister. For the past few months, in my role as chair of the all-party group on suicide and self-harm prevention, I have been leading an inquiry into how suicide prevention strategies have changed since the passing of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, two years ago. Unfortunately, one of the many aspects of that Bill was the change to suicide prevention strategies in England. At the time, the all-party group recommended that local suicide prevention strategies be placed at the heart of the national suicide prevention plan. When led by committed local champions and given sufficient resources, local suicide prevention plans are seen as by far the most effective way of preventing suicide.

The new national suicide strategy, however, included no statutory requirement for local suicide prevention plans. The Samaritans reported that the lack of a statutory requirement created a “major barrier” to the survival of local prevention plans. The report from the all-party group is due this autumn, but from our conversations with the directors of Public Health England, health care professionals, experts in suicide prevention from the devolved Administrations and representatives from the police, it has already become clear that the lack of clarity about responsibility for suicide intervention, post-intervention and prevention is creating problems that must be resolved.

Three weeks ago I attended one day of the five-day course by the hostage negotiation trainers at the Hendon police college. The course is intensive and difficult, and I was impressed by the calibre of officers attending from around the country. There is thankfully not a great call for hostage negotiations, but officers are frequently called out to deal with people contemplating suicide who need to be talked down from a roof, a bridge or the top of a car park. The frustration of those officers is great when, having spent hours talking someone down and taking them to A and E, they are told that there is no help because the person does not have an identifiable mental illness, but is depressed or anxious, or has a personality disorder or a learning disability.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) (DUP): In Northern Ireland last year we had 303 suicides and numerous attempted suicides. Does the hon. Lady feel, as I do, that community and beat police officers should receive more help from the staff of suicide prevention charities? That valuable support and expertise could help police officers at a critical time when they are trying to save lives.

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Mrs Moon: That is the whole tenet of my speech—the hon. Gentleman has stolen some of my best lines. He is correct: there is a lack of the support that police officers, who take on the most difficult job of saving a life, should have—and that the person who has attempted to take their own life should have—in order to ensure that they are not back in the same situation within 24 hours, trying to save a life.

This is not the first time I have raised the issue. On 26 June, I asked the Leader of the House for a debate on

“the responsibility gap faced by British Transport and Home Office police when they find an individual in emotional and mental crisis attempting suicide”.—[Official Report, 26 June 2014; Vol. 583, c. 480.]

Police officers are estimated to spend 40% of their time dealing with mental health problems, including suicide. In their research, Murphy et al acknowledged that 80% of police time is devoted to social services issues rather than to crime prevention.

I am told that considerable work is being done to look at the interaction between police services and the NHS, particularly in sensitive areas relating to mental health. What is clear from the evidence that I have heard is that there is new money and new engagement in mental health; that is happening. Sadly, however, one person giving evidence to the inquiry said, “If I call a meeting to discuss mental health, the room is full. If it’s suicide, nobody wants to know. It’s too difficult.”

Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con): Will the hon. Lady tell the House whether her research has revealed any increase in the problem since some health service foundation trusts, such as the one that serves Hampshire, closed up to 35% of their acute mental health in-patient beds? With the closure of some units—such as the state-of-the-art Woodhaven unit in my constituency—we have also lost the special facilities that were available to the police to house those who were found in mental distress.

Mrs Moon: I can say that the police increasingly have difficulty finding beds for people who need help and support. Although I cannot comment on the specific situation in Hampshire, the inquiry will reveal whether a suicide prevention action plan is in place and whether there is active engagement with the police in relation to that plan. I hope that that will be of assistance to the hon. Gentleman in assessing his local problems and issues.

The role of the police in dealing with mental health issues, mental health crises and suicide is growing. The figures from British Transport police on mental health incidents and suicide are shocking. I appreciate that the Minister will tell me that he has no responsibility for British Transport police, but they have been able to give me the most illuminating breakdown that shows the depth of the problem that we face. For every sexual offence dealt with on the railways, there are 15 mental health incidents, four of which are related to suicide. For every offence of robbery, there are 39 mental health incidents, 10 of which will relate to suicide. For every non-sexual assault, there are two mental health incidents. Last year, there were more calls to British Transport police relating to mental health incidents than there were reports of robbery and assault combined. In fact,

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British Transport police currently prevent more people from taking their own life every year than there are robberies every year. Those statistics show the size of the problem that we have drifted into.

The British Transport police are not alone in dealing with mental health issues. The Metropolitan police are reporting large increases in the number of people in mental health crisis committing offences deliberately for the purpose of getting into prison, because they believe that they will be safer in a cell than on the streets. At least in prison, they will have access to mental health support. Police say that they are told by local authorities that they are using section 136 powers too regularly, but they do not have any viable alternative to the place of safety that a police cell represents.

The British Journal of Psychiatry reports that in the north-east of England, a total of 205 cases of suicide were identified, 41 of which had a documented contact with the police within three months prior to the suicide while an additional seven cases had impending court appearances. In almost a quarter of suicide cases, the person had been in direct contact with the criminal justice system within the previous three months. Figures taken from the national confidential inquiry into suicides showed that in 24% of suicide cases, the person had been in contact with mental health services within 12 months of their death, compared with 70% who had been in contact with the police.

In my previous Westminster Hall debate on the subject, the former policing Minister told me:

“It is obvious that the police have, and will continue to have, a key role in dealing with mental health issues as they arise.”

That is undoubtedly the case, but is it right for the police always to be the point of engagement for those who are at risk of suicide? Those with mental health issues are three times more likely to be the victim of crime, and half of those with some form of mental ill health experienced a crime in the last year alone. The former policing Minister told me that the police

“are not and cannot replace health professionals. Both types of professionals should be left to do the job that they are best at doing and trained to do”.—[Official Report, 28 November 2013; Vol. 571, c. 161WH.]

Unintentionally, the Minister described what is wrong with the current situation. The police are increasingly replacing mental health professionals.

I am worried by the fact that when a police officer comes into contact with an individual whom they suspect is experiencing a mental health crisis, if that person goes on to take their own life, the officer will be investigated. They are often requested by social services to call on someone who is seen to be at risk, but it is the police officer and not someone from social services who is subject to an internal investigation. Police officers feel particularly aggrieved that they, who have no specialist training in identifying mental ill health, are expected to be accountable should someone with a mental health problem ultimately take their own life.

In my Westminster Hall debate, the former policing Minister spoke positively of the benefits of joint working. Many directors of public health and other suicide prevention professionals have said that the only really successful approach to the issue is multi-agency working. They see police and health professionals working together in a well-defined manner. Will the Minister tell the

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House what progress the Government are making on such an approach? In particular, what efforts are being made to log incidents of suspected and attempted suicide and to provide that information, in agreement with the coroner, as timely, current examples of the problems and risks faced locally, rather than prevention services having to wait three years for the national statistics to be released?

The Minister will be aware of MARACs—multi-agency risk assessment conferences—in relation to domestic violence. They have been piloted in some Metropolitan Police areas to highlight the suicide risk of individuals and to provide a supportive package. I was told a wonderful story from a MARAC involving a lady with dementia who had been burgled some 30 years earlier and was ringing the police several times a day to report a burglary. The initial response was that she should be given an antisocial behaviour order, but the MARAC pointed out that that was not the best way of dealing with her and a support package was put in place. Police time was saved and an elderly lady was saved huge distress. Will the Minister examine how MARACs are working and whether they can be rolled out as an exemplar across the UK?

We all agree that the police play an important role in dealing with mental health issues, but post-attempted suicide support should not be a police responsibility. British Transport and Home Office police recognise that their primary responsibility is to those whose life is at risk, but that responsibility is not placed on other statutory agencies, which are able to walk away when the police cannot. It is imperative that health, voluntary sector and local government agencies, as mentioned by the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon), work together to establish a joined-up strategy, with a primary responsibility to those whose life is at risk, that both prevents suicide and deals appropriately with those who have survived a suicide attempt, ensuring in the best way possible that they do not go on to make a further attempt.

Police officers are there to deal with crises, risk to life and crime. Sadly, too much of the Minister’s budget and officer time is taken up filling gaps that health, local government and appropriate funding of the voluntary sector should be filling. I look forward to hearing how the Minister plans to free police time and responsibility for those attempting or contemplating suicide once the immediate crisis has been resolved.

10.15 pm

The Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims (Mike Penning): When I woke this morning, I did not expect to be responding to such an excellent Adjournment debate on such an important subject as the Minister responsible for policing in the United Kingdom and with responsibilities in the Ministry of Justice for child protection—among other things, I believe, which we will see once the final list comes out.

I congratulate the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mrs Moon); may I call her my hon. Friend? We have dealt with many things together in the past and this is an appropriate opening debate for me, not least because of my previous ministerial duties at the Department for

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Work and Pensions as the Minister responsible for disabled people and, as she mentioned, my time on one blue-light facility as a fireman in the Essex county fire and rescue service. I was also a paramedic, when I was in the military, and a battlefield medic. When we are not on operations, the military look after the communities where they are and, sadly, I remember responding to all too many suicide attempts when I was in both the military and the fire service.

Sadly, as the police are on the front line, they often bear the brunt of what is going on, emotionally as well as in terms of their physical time. It is right and proper that as this is my first speech in this role, I should pay tribute to the work that all police do in this country. The hon. Lady has mentioned the British Transport police and the police in the devolved Administrations. I worked closely with the police in Northern Ireland when I was a Northern Ireland Minister, and there are also myriad other police services, such as the ports police, and the nature of ports means that they often sadly see a lot of suicides and attempted suicides.

When I was the Minister responsible for disabled people, one thing I did with the permission of the Prime Minister was start a joint ministerial forum for Ministers from all Departments. I nearly said that they were required to attend, but actually I cajoled them into doing so. For the first time in 40 years, since we first had a Minister responsible for disabled people, Ministers from all Departments came together not to pat ourselves on the back for what we had done for the disabled community but to see how we could improve things in the short and long term. It is spooky that one thing we were talking about at that forum was the whole question of mental health. The previous Policing Minister, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashford (Damian Green), discussed this very subject with me. We started to work very closely with the Health Minister with responsibilities in this particular area, who has been enormously helpful.

One thing we discussed extensively was not just what to do at the time of the incident, but how we could prevent people from getting to that position in the first place. My hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) alluded to mental health issues in his constituency and I hope that we have all been to mental health facilities in our constituencies to see the excellent work they do. One of the biggest problems we have is ensuring that when someone is presenting, not to a police officer but to a health professional, the knowledge and skills are there to recognise that there is a mental health issue, not least at accident and emergency. I know from my own experience that people were presenting at A and E or being presented by the police, but there were not staff on hand with the skills to diagnose and understand those people’s conditions, which would involve either mental health or learning difficulties—another issue that often comes into play.

Dr Julian Lewis: In my intervention, I did not make it clear enough that what happened in Hampshire appears to be happening in other parts of the country as well. We are going through one of those fashionable phases in which there has been a swing away from in-patient acute mental health beds, which is having an effect as the facilities are not available for the people in acute distress whom the police are discovering or with whom they have to deal.

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Mike Penning: My hon. Friend raises an important point. That may well be a useful Adjournment debate for us to have, with Mr Speaker’s permission. Even in our front-line acute accident and emergency departments, it is crucial to have staff with the skills to diagnose exactly what is going on.

I could not agree more with the hon. Member for Bridgend that, while the police will always be the front line—always be the people who are there for us—at the end of the day, even though there is mandatory training, their response is not what we really need to happen. We need to prevent as many suicide attempts as possible. I have myriad figures before me, which the Department has kindly provided, including from the British Transport police. The nature of their job means that they come across people who really intend to commit suicide rather than make a cry for help—although sometimes a cry for help can go too far. Suicides are unbelievably distressing to the police and the British Transport police as well as drivers, the excellent facilitators of our transport system. I have been with drivers of trains and buses that people have jumped in front of, and I know it causes them untold stress because they feel responsible, although clearly they are not.

We need to do more. In the short time that I have had this portfolio, I have had the chance quickly to look at the multi-agency risk assessment conference—MARAC—scheme, which is being piloted. I will look at it in detail. The Select Committee is pursuing its own investigations, and I look forward to assisting the Committee in that work. The hon. Member for Bridgend touched on other areas where the police may well be involved. The prevalence of people with mental health issues or learning difficulties in our prison system across this great country of ours is very sad, and often the police are called to incidents within prisons. Tomorrow at 9.30, I am meeting the Metropolitan Police Commissioner—on my second day in, he is coming through my door. I will be talking to him about this issue.

Jim Shannon: The Minister will be aware from his position as Minister of State for Northern Ireland of the close co-ordination between the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the local health authorities. The two work together whenever people with suicidal tendencies and mental health conditions are presented. There is a system in place which I know that the Minister will be aware of, and which reacts quickly. Does he feel that

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that system could address the issues that the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mrs Moon) has raised tonight?

Mike Penning: In Northern Ireland I worked closely with the Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, who has retired now—I wish him well, and I wish the new Chief Constable well, too, in a difficult time. Only the other night, we said how pleased we were about how quiet the marching season was.

I want to look at the MARAC scheme to make sure that it is evidence-based. The crucial thing is that, with the limited funding available, agencies must work more closely together so that we not only intervene earlier but, once we have intervened, make sure that we get the decisions right. As the hon. Member for Bridgend said, we get people to what we think is the right place, then release them and sadly the situation recurs. I do not have this written down in front of me—it is anecdotal evidence—but people who commit suicide tend to have tried before. It is sad that as a society we have not managed to pick up on that. If I am wrong about that, I apologise to the House, but it seems to me from my time in the emergency services that that is what happens, and I will look for evidence that I am correct.

The police do a fantastic job no matter where they are in this great nation of ours, and the various police forces all carry out their roles in an exemplary way. It is important that we use their resources correctly. The police will always, rightly, be on the front line. They may sometimes be the first to arrive and in certain circumstances they will be the only people to arrive. It is important that paramedics are trained in understanding health issues and learning difficulties, which are often linked—something that is sometimes not fully understood. We must use our police and their resources correctly. They should not be the first resort but the last resort when it comes to looking after people with these sorts of conditions and those attempting suicide, so that we can improve matters. It is getting better, but I will not drown the House with data. One life lost is one too many, and I hope to work closely with the hon. Lady because I want police arresting criminals and for criminals to be convicted, and wherever possible, not to be put in a difficult position, as is often the case in this particular arena.

Question put and agreed to.

10.25 pm

House adjourned.