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Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, the Secretary of State is under a mandatory duty to prepare the code of practice. This code of practice has legal efficacy. Using the word "designed" if we do not deliver, merely weakens the prospect of enforcement and mitigates the efficacy of the code.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, during Committee I gave an undertaking to look again at the substance of this amendment. Having heard the noble Lord again today, I believe that this is one of those cases where we must agree to differ.

Paragraphs (a) to (f) of Clause 16(1) set out the objectives of the code. The Secretary of State is required to prepare a code which contains provisions designed to secure those objectives. That leaves some flexibility as to how the objectives are achieved. Clause 16(1) is intended to specify not what provision must be in the code, but what the end results of that provision should be. In that way, the provisions are designed to secure certain things; but it is the investigator, acting in accordance with the provisions in the code, who will actually secure them. It is the investigator who must secure those ends.

It seems more natural to say that a code of practice contains provisions which are "designed" to secure certain things than that the provisions actually do secure them.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, that argument is as awful this time as it was last time. The objectives of the code of practice and their ability to meet the wishes of Parliament are the responsibility of the Secretary of State. As the Minister said, it is the responsibility of the investigator to carry out the will of Parliament in accordance with the code of practice. But ultimately--I am sure the Minister will agree that this is the case everywhere else--the responsibility for matters which Parliament has determined lies with the Secretary

5 Feb 1996 : Column 22

of State and cannot be shuffled off onto the investigator or anybody else. I did not mean to take the opinion of the House on this matter, but I shall.

3.53 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 47) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 68; Not-Contents, 107.

Division No. 2

CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Allen of Abbeydale, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Avebury, L.
Bancroft, L.
Barnett, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Borrie, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Carter, L.
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Clinton-Davis, L.
David, B.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Fisher of Rednal, B.
Geraint, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L. [Teller.] Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.] Gregson, L.
Grey, E.
Hamwee, B.
Haskel, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howell, L.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kennet, L.
Longford, E.
McCarthy, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
McNair, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Methuen, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Nicol, B.
Palmer, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Richard, L.
Robson of Kiddington, B.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Sainsbury, L.
Shaughnessy, L.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Stallard, L.
Stedman, B.
Strabolgi, L.
Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Warnock, B.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
White, B.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.

NOT-CONTENTS

Aberdare, L.
Addison, V.
Ailsa, M.
Aldington, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Arran, E.
Astor of Hever, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Blyth, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Braine of Wheatley, L.
Brentford, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Butterworth, L.
Cadman, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnock, L.
Chelmsford, V.
Chesham, L. [Teller.] Clanwilliam, E.
Cockfield, L.
Courtown, E.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.] Cumberlege, B.
De Freyne, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B.
Dilhorne, V.
Elibank, L.
Ellenborough, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Faithfull, B.
Ferrers, E.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
Gage, V.
Gainford, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
Harding of Petherton, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Hooper, B.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Inglewood, L.
Jellicoe, E.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L.
Kimball, L.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lauderdale, E.
Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, E.
Lucas, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Lyell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.] Macleod of Borve, B.
Manton, L.
Merrivale, L.
Mersey, V.
Middleton, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Milverton, L.
Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Mottistone, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Northesk, E.
O'Cathain, B.
Orkney, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Peel, E.
Pender, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Pym, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Reay, L.
Rennell, L.
Renwick, L.
Richardson, L.
St. Davids, V.
Seccombe, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shrewsbury, E.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Strathcarron, L.
Strathclyde, L. [Teller.] Sudeley, L.
Swinfen, L.
Swinton, E.
Teviot, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Wynford, L.
Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

5 Feb 1996 : Column 23

4.1 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor (

Lord Mackay of Clashfern): My Lords, in calling Amendment No. 48, I should point out that, if it is agreed to, I shall not be able to call Amendment No. 49.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 48:


Page 10, leave out lines 3 and 4 and insert--
("(a) that when information is obtained in the course of a criminal investigation it is recorded at the time it is obtained or as soon as practicable after that time;").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, my purpose in moving the amendment is to find out whether I cannot coax the Minister into seeing that there is some virtue in it. The message one derives loud and clear from the Royal Commission on Criminal Procedure is that the more order and regulation one has about the conduct of criminal investigations the better the conclusion is likely to be. This amendment is intended to ensure that, in respect of information obtained in the course of a criminal investigation, it is not simply recorded--that is on the face of the Bill in Clause 16(1)(a)--but that it is recorded, with the important qualification,


    "at the time it is obtained"--
we know that there are sometimes difficulties in investigations--


    "or as soon as practicable after that time".

The proposal we put forward is that the structure often determines the conclusion, so that if one has an ordered regime it is capable of being a self-regulating mechanism, it forms a useful and necessary internal

5 Feb 1996 : Column 24

check, it is likely to assist police officers and it is likely to assist the scrutiny of criminal investigations. This is simply an echo of what is presently required from the custody officer who has to make the record of custody, requests for solicitors and the usual requests at the time. I cannot see any disadvantage to this proposal. I strongly suggest that it is likely to improve the quality of police investigations because it imposes the necessary internal discipline that material is recorded either at the time or as soon as practicable thereafter. I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, if Clause 16 is merely designed to ensure, surely there is nothing to prevent the detail of this amendment, which appears to have considerable merit, appearing in the code of practice.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, we now come to a series of amendments which are concerned with the detailed content of the code of practice to be prepared under Part II of the Bill. I should like to preface my response to the amendments with some remarks about the status of the code of practice and its drafting.

The code was published in draft shortly before the Bill went into Committee. We received a number of comments on it, not least in the form of amendments tabled by noble Lords opposite. Some refinements to the draft code are needed, but its structure and general content so far have stood up well. As the House will be aware, I have tabled amendments to Clauses 18 and 53 to provide that the code of practice will be subject to statutory consultation and affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament before it is implemented in accordance with the recommendations of the Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee. In the light of the detailed comments received and of the proceedings in your Lordships' House, we intend to produce a further draft when the Bill goes to another place so as to inform the debates on the Bill in that place.

The noble Lord has not made it clear to the House whether he intends to press the amendment in order to have it placed on the face of the Bill, which was the point made by my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway. The last time these amendments were debated I recall that they were tabled not with the intention of placing them on the face of the Bill but of using the occasion to discuss them as possible changes to the code of practice. I am happy to set out the Government's interim views on the points, which will of course be subject to further consultation. I have already written to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, with detailed comments on his amendments, and I shall draw on these in responding to this and other amendments in the series.

Amendment No. 48 to Clause 16 requires information to be recorded at the time it is obtained or as soon as practicable afterwards. We agree with the principle that information should be recorded promptly as long as it is considered to be relevant to the investigation. But we are concerned that this amendment might imply that an investigator has a duty to take a statement whenever he contacts a potential witness. He should not have to take statements when they would not ordinarily be taken,

5 Feb 1996 : Column 25

although he should make a note of any potential witnesses. Subject to this caveat, we intend to incorporate into the draft code a modified version of Amendment No. 48 and I am grateful to the noble Lord for raising the point. That would require the prompt recording of material, without prejudice to the existing practice relating to whether statements should be taken or not.

Perhaps I may give an example of such an occasion. At riots where large numbers of people are present many people will be approached but statements will be taken only from a restricted number of people. Therefore, as long as all the events are recorded, only the relevant statements will be produced. I hope the noble Lord is satisfied that we will bring forward a modification of his amendment.


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