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Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister. He has been generous in his dealings with me all along and I am grateful for what he has said. He is right to say that there are some technical difficulties with the amendment and he is right to say that those should be considered carefully. I am delighted that a provision similar to that in the Government of Wales Act will be incorporated in the Bill. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 535A:


Page 154, leave out lines 32 to 37 and insert--
("(c) the person or body responsible for the appointment of members of the Greater London Magistrates' Courts Authority under regulations made under section 30B of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997 (which, by virtue of paragraph 5(b) of Schedule 2A to this Act, appoints magistrates to be members of the Metropolitan Police Authority.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this group of amendments is concerned with the appointment of magistrate members of the Metropolitan Police Authority. Now that the Access to Justice Act has been passed there are a number of changes we need to make to reflect the new arrangements that will apply to the administration of magistrates' courts in London. Amendment No. 536C substitutes new arrangements for how the four magistrate members of the MPA will be appointed. As drafted, paragraph 5 of Schedule 21 provides that the appointments will be made by a joint committee of the selection panels for the magistrates' courts committees within the Metropolitan Police District. There are 21 such selection panels, so it would be quite a task for them to join together to form a single panel to make the appointments.

As your Lordships will be aware, the Access to Justice Act establishes a new London-wide body called the Greater London Magistrates' Courts Authority. This body will replace the existing magistrates' courts

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committees in London which will in turn mean the disappearance of the MCC selection panels. The GLMCA will not assume its full powers until April 2001, but work is already under way in relation to the appointment of its members. A selection panel is to be set up for this purpose around the turn of the year. This single panel will therefore be in place comfortably before the MPA comes into being next July. We think that this panel would be the ideal body to make the four magistrate appointments to the MPA. That is what Amendment No. 536C achieves.

Amendment No. 535A is consequential. It provides that the body or person who makes appointments to the GLMCA--that is, the selection panel to which I have just referred--may be consulted by the Secretary of State when he is considering reducing the number of MPA members. This replaces the current provision in Clause 269 of the Bill whereby it is the MCC selection panels which must be consulted.

Amendments Nos. 536B, 536H and 536L to 536N make further changes consequent on the passage of the Access to Justice Act. Amendment No. 536N removes an enabling power for the Secretary of State to amend the description of magistrates as used in various places in Schedule 21. This power was included because at the time the Bill was introduced it was possible that the Access to Justice Bill, as it then was, might make changes which would lead to the description of London magistrates as used in Schedule 21 becoming outdated. Now that the Act has passed, the need for the power has been removed. Hence our amendment to delete it.

The other amendments simply remove the word "London" used at four junctures in the same schedule. This reflects a provision in the Access to Justice Act which has amended the 1997 Justices of the Peace Act so that it refers simply to "commission areas" rather than "London commission areas". These amendments are all sensible changes needed to take account of provisions contained in the Access to Justice Act. I beg to move.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, what the amendments seek to do is sensible. However, I am slightly confused over two points. First, Amendment No. 535A refers to the Justices of the Peace Act 1997 but the Minister referred to the Access to Justice Act in that context. I am not sure how the two provisions interlink. Secondly, in the next line of Amendment No. 535A there is a reference to paragraph 5(b) of Schedule 2A to this Act. Should that be a reference to paragraph 5(1)(b) of Schedule 21 to this Act? At the moment there is no Schedule 2A. Schedule 21 appears to be what it is intended to refer to. It seems to me that the reference should be paragraph 5(1)(b) rather than paragraph 5(b). Perhaps a manuscript amendment will be needed to correct that. While the Minister is seeking inspiration on that point, I may say that the new selection panel is clearly the right body, just as it is the right body to make the selections for the related Greater London magistrates' courts authority.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for buying me some time. To answer

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his first question, the Access to Justice Act 1999 amended the relevant part of the Justices of the Peace Act 1997. If that is not clear, we will provide the noble Lord with further elucidation. To answer his second point, there is a reference to Schedule 2A because Schedule 21 to the Bill inserts Schedule 2A into the Police Act 1996. I trust that those two replies satisfy the noble Lord's inquiries and do not prove a further barrier to agreeing these necessary amendments.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 21 [The Metropolitan Police Authority: Schedule 2A to the Police Act 1996]:

Lord Tope moved Amendment No. 536XZA:


Page 303, line 42, leave out ("appointed") and insert ("elected").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 536YZA and 536ZZA. An amendment included in this group, Amendment No. 536ZA of the noble Lord, Lord Cope, and his colleague, seeks to achieve the same purpose. The only difference is rather semantic; it is between the use of the word "election" or "appointment". For the purpose of debate, I am happy to accept that were the amendments to be successful, the assembly would appoint but might choose its appointees by election. I think we are at one in that respect.

We made clear at earlier stages of the Bill that this is not an argument about the strategic role of the mayor. We accept that our view will not prevail and that the Government's view will. We agree with the Government that there should be 12 members of the assembly on the Metropolitan Police Authority. There is no argument about that or that those members should reflect the political balance of the assembly and constitute a majority on the MPA. The difference between us is who appoints the assembly members.

The Bill states that the members should be appointed by the mayor. Members of both opposition Benches say that they should be appointed by the assembly. Nearly half the members of the assembly will serve on the Metropolitan Police Authority. They will be held accountable by their colleagues for their actions and behaviour. They will be, for all intents and purposes, representatives of the assembly. It is a fundamental democratic principle that those who represent the assembly should be appointed by the assembly and that the decision should not be foisted upon it.

I can understand the Government taking the view that the mayor must have more direct input to the work of the MPA to fulfil his strategic role. I would have thought the relationship between assembly members and the mayor would be good enough to achieve that through having half the assembly members on the authority. If the Government want a greater say, they could provide--as they do elsewhere in the Bill--that the deputy mayor must be a member. If the assembly were to appoint the 12 members, I would be happy to accept a provision in the Bill for making one of them the deputy mayor.

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We return to the basic democratic principle that if the assembly is to be represented on the Metropolitan Police Authority in the way the Bill proposes, the assembly should choose its own representatives and not have the decision foisted upon it by the major--apparently without reference to the assembly. I beg to move.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I should put out that, as the other amendments indicated are also being spoken to, if Amendment No. 536ZZA is agreed, I cannot call Amendment No. 536ZA.

3.45 p.m.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, although I hesitate slightly in present company to support any reduction in the powers of the mayor, nevertheless it will be apparent from the amendment in my name that I have some sympathy with the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Tope. I see no effective difference between the wording of the two amendments. I do not think there is any way that the authority would select its members except by electing them. It seemed to me that "appointed" was the appropriate word to use but I accept that there is no difference between us. We are happy to leave it to whichever word the parliamentary draftsman suggests Ministers should use, if they wish to go along with the proposal.

I do not understand the Government's resistance to the amendment. I thought that I might be seeing the point when I read rumours in the media the other day that Mr. Philips had been induced to withdraw from the struggle to become the mayor by a promise of being on the police authority. Whether or not that rumour is true--I have been too long at this game to take much notice--patronage of that character might be helpful to those who wish to control everything. Perhaps that was the Government's reason for taking the line they did in Committee and perhaps they will continue to take it now. We shall see.


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