Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

At Second Reading, the Minister agreed that this was an important principle, following the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, which highlighted why that was so and what might happen if this principle were not followed. However, the noble Baroness also made it clear that she thought that flexibility was more important and confirmed that this matter would be in secondary rather than primary legislation.

The purpose of my amendment is to ask her to reconsider that position. There is general agreement that key principles need to go into primary legislation, while the detail can be left to secondary legislation. Many of the debates on other parts of the Bill have concerned where that line should be drawn and in some areas drawing a line is not very easy. I do not see how ensuring that councillor representation on police authorities is politically balanced can be considered a mere detail. Surely, it is an underlying principle that permeates the whole concept of accountability. It is the key to the way in which police authorities operate. It has kept them free from party politics as well as from narrow interest groups, as I learnt to my great advantage a number of years ago when I chaired my own police authority. That is not to say that there have not been political debates about policing, but it means that one particular view has not been able to dominate completely to the detriment of others. It means that decisions are, for the most part, reached by consensus, reflecting a full range of views in the area, both political and non-party political. It also means that there is no question of undue partisan influence being brought to bear on the chief officer. That is an important and valuable principle.

I am gratified that the Government agree, but if they agree with that, surely it is important enough to be in primary legislation, as it currently is. I cannot believe that the Government are suggesting that they may need to change this key, underlying principle about the way the authorities are made up. If they do not intend to change this, why do they need the flexibility that will allow them to do so? I beg to move.

Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, I had a sense of déj vu when I saw these amendments on the Marshalled List, so much so that I feel not in the least

18 Oct 2006 : Column 831

bit inhibited by the fact that I missed the early remarks of the noble Baroness, Lady Harris of Richmond, because I am sure that the arguments that she put forward were very similar to those that we heard in detail on Report.

I agree with every word that the noble Baroness, Lady Harris of Richmond, said about why a balance of elected representatives is a critical part of the governance of police authorities. However, giventhe clear assurance from the Minister on Report that the Government saw this as important, clearly saying that it would be part of regulations, I did not feel it was appropriate to press the amendment again. We have that assurance. Subject to the Minister’s statement that there is no intention to change it, then—unless we are being told that one of the opposition parties plans to dispense with the principle of political balance in the far future—we should surely accept what the Government have made clear.

6.30 pm

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Harris of Richmond, for repeating her arguments, and the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, for making my case for me. It was a pleasure to hear.

My argument has not changed since last week either. I do not apologise for that, but take delight in repeating the assurance I gave then: our view onthe acceptance of the principle of political proportionality is as it was, and it is not our intention to change it. I expressed that view last week, and again today. I again give the undertaking that we will enshrine that in regulations.

There is a need for flexibility from time to time. There may be some reason, which I cannot currently imagine, for our needing to tweak the secondary legislation to protect the principle. However, that is the better way of doing it. We have struck the right balance, and I can see no point in drawing ourselves into a lengthy debate this evening on whether primary or secondary legislation is the best way to do so. The important points have been made by my noble friend Lord Harris.

I give the reassurance again. I hope that it will be accepted on the Liberal Democrat Benches and that the noble Baroness will feel confident in withdrawing her amendment.

Baroness Harris of Richmond: My Lords, sadly not. I am grateful to the Minister for reiterating his stance, but it does not take us forward in anyway. It does not answer my key question of whythe Government feel they need the flexibility of secondary legislation if they have no intention of changing the current arrangements. I note that the Minister said that there may be something in the future.

I am grateful to the Minister for stating once again that the principle of proportionality is as it was. However, the arrangements setting out political balance are currently in primary legislation. That is extremely important. I am not just advocating that

18 Oct 2006 : Column 832

something in primary legislation should remain setin stone for the sake of it. Key principles with a constitutional purpose should not be moved into secondary legislation for administrative convenience alone. It is fundamentally important that policing should remain non-party political, and that police authorities should be properly balanced to reflect and represent the full variety of views in the communities they serve. It is essential to the success of police authorities, and surely exactly the sort of key principle that should be clear in the Bill.

Because I do not feel entirely confident that the Minister has reassured me as perfectly as I would love to have been, I wish to test the opinion of the House.

6.34 pm

On Question, Whether the said amendment(No. 57) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 52; Not-Contents, 129.


Division No. 2


CONTENTS

Addington, L. [Teller]
Avebury, L.
Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury, B.
Chidgey, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Dear, L.
Dholakia, L.
D'Souza, B.
Dykes, L.
Falkland, V.
Garden, L.
Glasgow, E.
Goodhart, L.
Greaves, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Richmond, B. [Teller]
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Jones of Cheltenham, L.
Kirkwood of Kirkhope, L.
Lee of Trafford, L.
Maclennan of Rogart, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Neuberger, B.
Newby, L.
Ramsbotham, L.
Razzall, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rennard, L.
Roberts of Llandudno, L.
Rogan, L.
Roper, L.
Russell-Johnston, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Stern, B.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Taverne, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomas of Winchester, B.
Tonge, B.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Tyler, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.

NOT CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Adams of Craigielea, B.
Adonis, L.
Ahmed, L.
Amos, B. [Lord President.]
Anderson of Swansea, L.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Bilston, L.
Blood, B.
Boyd of Duncansby, L.
Bragg, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Carter of Coles, L.
Chester, Bp.
Christopher, L.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Colville of Culross, V.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.


18 Oct 2006 : Column 833

Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Desai, L.
Drayson, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Ford, B.
Foster of Bishop Auckland, L.
Foulkes of Cumnock, L.
Gale, B.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Greenway, L.
Griffiths of Burry Port, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Hart of Chilton, L.
Haworth, L.
Henig, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howarth of Newport, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jones, L.
Jones of Whitchurch, B.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kilclooney, L.
Kingsmill, B.
Kirkhill, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macaulay of Bragar, L.
McDonagh, B.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
McKenzie of Luton, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Maxton, L.
Mitchell, L.
Moonie, L.
Morgan, L.
Morgan of Drefelin, B.
Morris of Handsworth, L.
Parekh, L.
Patel of Bradford, L.
Paul, L.
Pendry, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prosser, B.
Quin, B.
Rea, L.
Rees of Ludlow, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Robertson of Port Ellen, L.
Rooker, L.
Rosser, L.
Rowlands, L.
Royall of Blaisdon, B.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sewel, L.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Soley, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Triesman, L.
Truscott, L.
Tunnicliffe, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Wall of New Barnet, B.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Young of Norwood Green, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

6.44 pm

[Amendment No. 58 not moved.]

Lord Harris of Haringey moved AmendmentNo. 59:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, we have made remarkable progress on the Bill. A whole series of changes have been made and introduced by the Government, responding positively to the representations that have been made. A desire for compromise is clearly in the air. A few moments ago I demonstrated my personal desire to meet the Government half way in accepting the assurances that they gave the House on Report. In moving Amendment No. 59, I have moved from the position

18 Oct 2006 : Column 834

that I expressed on Report about the importance of the Metropolitan Police Authority having the opportunity to elect its own vice-chairs, despite the slightly tortuous arguments that the Minister consistently put forward throughout that day about why it was so significant that the leading person in a particular organisation should also appoint the deputies.

Having seen that the Government seem adamant about that point, I thought that it was worth suggesting what is, after all, a very minor change to the Bill, which is to say that having appointed the chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority—which will be the only police authority in the country unable to elect its own chair—before the Mayor of London simply appoints the vice-chairs, he should have regard to any representations that may be made by members of the authority. That would give an opportunity for the members of the authority to express a view as to which of their colleagues were taking an active interest in the proceedings of the authority or what was needed to balance the viewpoints within the authority.

I think that that is an entirely helpful amendment and entirely in tune with the Government's proposals. It is for that reason that I propose it. I do not think that it does any damage to the general thrust of the legislation. I do not think that it does any damage to the logic—albeit tortuous—that the Government set out as to why it was so important that the vice-chairs of the police authority be appointed by the same person who appoints the chair. But it does mean that there would at least be some sense of ownership by the whole police authority of the appointments of the vice-chair or vice-chairs of the Metropolitan Police Authority, in that they would have had the opportunity to make representations to the Mayor and the Mayor would have had the opportunity to consider them prior to making any decisions on the matter. I beg to move.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, in this comity of action at this time in the evening, I ask the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, to address a question when he comes to consider whether to press his amendment. When we deal with amendments in this House and use the phrase “shall have regard to” any representations, there is always a debate about what happens if the body then does not have regard to those representations. I sense that what the noble Lord is trying to achieve is a sensible, practical way forward. However, while one ought to have at least an idea of what are people’s views, if you do not make the appointment that the majority of those people who have expressed their opinion want, should there be recourse to action against you? For example, what if not all members make representations? What if some do but some do not? Some difficult consequences might flow from that, and I wonder whether the noble Lord is wedded to that particular terminology, or whether there is some other terminology that does not have the ramifications of someone taking legal action if they find that they

18 Oct 2006 : Column 835

are not appointed after most of those making representations recommend a particular man or woman.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Harris, has advanced a carefully crafted argument, as he always does on these occasions. Indeed, he has done so so skilfully that he has begun to make me feel rather bad about what I am about to say. If he can take anything away from this discussion, which we have had in two or three stages of the Bill, it is that, I am afraid. I am rather drawn to the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, because we often have this strange debate about “shall” meaning “must”. One can get into difficulty if someone “must” have regard to representations made, particularly if there is a challenge.

I shall repeat much of what I said on Report. We are bringing the appointment of the vice-chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority into line with the way in which the vice-chairmen of other Greater London Authority functional bodies, such as Transport for London and the London development agencies, are appointed. As I think has been said in the past, the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority appoints its own vice-chairman from among its members.

Our primary reason for enabling the Mayor to appoint the vice-chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority is that the vice-chairman can act as chairman in his absence. It is therefore logical for the chairman and the vice-chairman to be appointed in the same way. I expect, however, that members of the Metropolitan Police Authority will want to make—indeed, are very likely to make—representations about the appointment of vice-chairmen to the Mayor. I have little doubt that any Mayor, and not simply our current incumbent, would be foolish indeed if they did not “have regard to” those representations when making the appointment. I understand the principle of what my noble friend Lord Harris is seeking to achieve, but I do not think that an amendment is required to achieve it. In any event, members of the authority do not need a particular statutory power to make the quality and nature of representations that they have. In part because of the argument that the noble Baroness has begun to advance about the terminology, I think that there may be an unintended or hidden consequence in making such a power.

I assure my noble friend that members will be free to make the representations that they have always been able to make. That is the best way to achieve the outcome that he seeks and, although the logic may have been tortuous in the past, I think that our point is the right one and that the arrangement is best left as it is. For those reasons, I hope that, although he has made his arguments well, he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, I am grateful for my noble friend’s reply. I am not surprised by it; I expect a reply of that nature and quality on occasions

18 Oct 2006 : Column 836

such as this. It was thoughtful, detailed and thorough, looking into all the different issues that might arise. I am grateful for his analogy with the various functional bodies of the governance systems in London. When the Greater London Authority Act passed through this House and the other place, it was noted with considerable interest that every one of the functional bodies under the Mayor had a different governance structure. In four instances, the Mayor appointed the chair. In two of those instances, he also appointed the vice-chair. In one instance, the Mayor did not appoint the chair or the vice-chair and, in the fourth instance, did not appoint the vice-chair. The elected representatives of some functional bodies were expressly forbidden from holding office, and in others only London borough councillors were forbidden. There was no consistency between the functional bodies. If it is an aim of government policy to achieve that, no doubt there will be more signs of it in the forthcoming legislation on local government, although I am not aware that that is part of government policy.

This amendment was put forward to make sure that the Mayor, in making appointments of vice-chairs, listens and thinks about the consequences for the police authority and makes sure that the right balance is achieved in the way that it functions. I was careful in choosing the words,

I am aware that that is fairly strong phraseology in legal terms. I used those terms because, while the Mayor might not be bound to accept the collective views of the police authority, I want any Mayor to give extremely clear and cogent reasons why he does not accept such representations. Perhaps there is better phraseology to achieve what I want, but it is very sad that we will not have the opportunity in this House to consider the matter. It was put forward for precisely that purpose and in the knowledge that it was a fairly strong statement.

The Minister was kind enough to say that members of the police authority would have the right to make representations and that any sensible Mayor would think about those, which is a statement of the obvious. No one was suggesting that members of the police authority should be forbidden from making representations or that the Mayor would not be allowed to look at them before making any appointment. If my noble friend is suggesting—as I am sure that he is—that in the regulations there will be an encouragement to members of the police authority to make representations to the Mayor and that there will be phraseology to imply that the Mayor should consider them, if not have regard to them, then I am sure that that would be sufficient reason for me not to press this amendment to a vote.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord is being a bit provocative, but no matter. He has persuaded me that when we think about the guidance, we should give further thought to the issue, perhaps in similar terms to those which he suggested. I will not go any further than that, but I am grateful to him for his last contribution.



18 Oct 2006 : Column 837

Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, given that fulsome assurance from my noble friend and the clarity with which he said that he anticipates that these changes will be incorporated into the regulations—he perhaps inadvertently talked about guidance—I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Schedule 8 [Further provision about crime and disorder committees of certain local authorities]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 60 to 62:

“Application to the City of London

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 9 [Amendments to the Crime and Disorder Act 1998]:

[Amendment No. 63 not moved.]


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page