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Baroness Blatch moved Amendment No. 52:

Page 10, line 12, leave out from first ("it,") to end of line 13 and insert ("and he requests that it be disclosed to the accused, the accused is allowed to inspect it or is given a copy of it;
(dd) that the person who is to allow the accused to inspect information or other material or to give him a copy of it shall decide which of those (inspecting or giving a copy) is appropriate;").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this amendment was taken with Amendment No. 49. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 53:

Page 10, line 20, at end insert--
("(1A) The code shall include provision that a police officer shall be identified for each criminal investigation who shall secure--
(a) that information obtained in the course of a criminal investigation is recorded;
(b) that any record of information so obtained, and any other material so obtained, is retained;
(c) that information obtained, and any other material so obtained, is disclosed to a person who is involved in the prosecution of criminal proceedings arising out of or relating to the investigation and who is identified in accordance with prescribed provisions;
(d) the person so identified shall sign a certificate that these provisions have been complied with.").

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The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 53, I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 55 and 57. The purpose of these amendments is similar to that of certain other amendments: to devise and institute a scheme which will designate a specific police officer in a criminal investigation who will have the duty of recording and, in particular, the obligation of signing a certificate to say that certain obligations have been discharged. It is not a new proposition. It was suggested in the past by the Bar Council before the commission of the noble Lord, Lord Runciman, was set up, and has been suggested also by the Criminal Bar Association. It is not suggested or necessary that in every criminal investigation the designated officer should be a senior officer. Obviously in the smaller run of the ordinary criminal case the officer involved in the case will be designated. More senior officers may be required in more complex cases and the duty may need to be delegated to a specific detective officer.

The amendments are designed to bring about the result that there will be someone with a duty set upon him or her, and that that duty will be identified and enforced by virtue of the obligation and the necessity that the designated officer shall sign the certificate to say that all has been properly complied with. If the Minister were of the view that that is something that could usefully be accepted in principle for inclusion in the code, I would be more than satisfied. I beg to move.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, if the amendment cannot be accepted verbatim, I hope that my noble friend the Minister will give serious consideration to accepting it in principle.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I hope that I can be helpful. These amendments to Clause 16 provide that the code of practice must include provision for an identified police officer to secure the recording of information, the retention of records of information and other material and their disclosure to the prosecutor, and to certify that this has been done. I believe that the amendments are not necessary to achieve the desired result because Clause 16 already requires the Secretary of State to prepare a code of practice which is designed to secure compliance with the duties specified in the amendments.

Nevertheless, I understand the concern to ensure that the duties relating to disclosure which fall on the police are carried out by someone who is identified and who will certify that he has complied with his duties. As I have already indicated to the noble Lord in correspondence, I agree with this in principle. We will, as Clause 16 allows, ensure that in the next draft of the code of practice the duties of the "disclosure officer", as he will be called, are clearly identified. If a disclosure officer is to perform those revelatory functions, there is no need to record his name in a log book: it will appear on the schedule and on the certificate supplied to the prosecutor. I hope that noble Lords will be satisfied that that explanation is a positive response to the amendment.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, it is indeed a positive response. I believe it to be a helpful response

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which will improve the working of the code and therefore the Bill. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 54:

Page 10, line 21, leave out ("may") and insert ("shall").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is the first of a long series of amendments. The grouping also includes Amendments Nos. 59, 63, 64, 65, 68, 71 and 72, all of which have the same effect. They do not seek to write the provisions of the code of practice on the face of the Bill--we do not want to start that argument again--but they seek to do what the Bill already provides; in other words, they seek to change the provisions which state that "the code of practice may do so and so" to provisions stating, "the code of practice shall do so and so".

Taking into account Amendments Nos. 49, 52 and 56, I believe that the Government now recognise that the provisions in Clauses 16 and 17 which seek to constrain and to bring out into the open air, so to speak, the provisions of the code of practice are included in the code of practice, or will be.

I repeat the acknowledgement that my noble friend Lord Williams has just made. On occasions we are receiving helpful replies to our suggestions about the code of practice. I believe that that justifies the effort that we have put into examining the code of practice to ensure that it meets the requirements of justice and fits properly into the structure of the Bill.

If that is the case, what is the point of having Clauses 16 and 17 unless they provide that the code of practice includes what it does in fact include? It is difficult to check because the code of practice is formulated in a different way--in paragraphs rather than clauses--but as far as I can see, all of the provisions of Clauses 16 and 17 are reflected in the code of practice, so why not secure that parliamentary approval is given to those inclusions and that the code cannot be changed without further parliamentary approval? I believe that these are sensible provisions which increase Parliament's control over the code of practice without taking away the necessary flexibility. I commend them to the House. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, Clauses 16 and 17 currently provide that the code of practice "may" make provision for a number of matters. The amendments seek to replace "may" with "shall" in Clause 16(2) and in seven other places in Clauses 16 and 17.

I understand the desire of the noble Lords to ensure that the code is required to do the things it currently may do. But I do not think that it is necessary to go as far as they have done in these amendments. The Secretary of State is already required to prepare a code under Clause 16, and the code is required to contain such provision as is described in subsection (1) of Clause 16. The remaining provisions of Clause 16 are designed to amplify the requirements in subsection (1) rather than to stand independently of them. Similarly,

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the provisions of Clause 17 merely give examples of what the code may include to amplify what is in subsection (5) of Clause 16.

I should also point out that the draft code is a recent creation. The comments that we have received suggest, as I said earlier, that its structure and contents are broadly right. But without further reflection and consultation we cannot be certain that it contains all that it needs to contain; nor can we be sure that it is necessary to include in the code all the provisions which it is permitted to include under Clauses 16 and 17 but which under these amendments it would be required to include. Given the status of the code--as a draft subject to consultation and to approval by Parliament--we would be reluctant to remove the flexibility that derives from the use of the word "may" rather than "shall". There will be changes of circumstance and there may be other examples. Certainly, Clause 17 is not wholly inclusive of examples that may be covered in the code of practice. However, the ultimate safeguard will be that Parliament is invited to approve the code of practice. It will be for Parliament to decide whether the Secretary of State has produced a code to secure the desired ends.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I can see how this debate could degenerate into a theological debate about structure as between what is wholly codified in primary legislation and what is left to the most flexible provisions of the code of practice. I acknowledge that the Government have moved a considerable way to protecting the code of practice by providing that it shall be the subject of statutory consultation and subject to approval by Parliament. To that extent, the differences between us are at least squeezed a little.

However, I am disappointed because it seems to me that our amendments to Clause 16--Clause 17 is the peculiarity that I have already described--recognise the fact that all of those elements are included in the code of practice. I cannot see the faintest danger in drawing attention to that fact and saying that they shall not be changed. After all, they are pretty fundamental.

This very much reminds me of our debates about some of the provisions of the criminal injuries compensation scheme when, except on a few occasions, I did not succeed in persuading the Government to accept that the basic elements of criminal injuries compensation are pretty robust, pretty long-standing and ought to be (and could perfectly well be) incorporated in legislation and not left to the chance of a scheme even when that scheme is subject to parliamentary approval.

We have been over this ground before. It is an issue upon which it would be improper for me to divide the House, because it does not write any element of the scheme into legislation, although I do not say that writing some elements would not on occasion be proper upon which to divide. However, in view of the changes that have taken place in the status of the code of practice, I shall not press the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 55 not moved.]

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