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Lord Tope: My Lords, I listened carefully to the Minister. I am grateful to him for pointing out that the matter is rather technical and not too easy to follow. I shall read carefully what he said. However, I wonder whether, for clarification and for simplicity's sake, he can confirm two points on the Government's intentions, irrespective of whether this version is the final one.

Can he confirm that there will be no alterations to the pensions actually being paid--in other words, that pension provisions will not change so far as relates to the pensioners covered under this provision? Can he further confirm that the changes being made here will not affect the budget for the Metropolitan Police service?

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I also am grateful to the Minister for pointing out that this issue is rather technical and complicated. It is extremely important, particularly for those employed or to be employed and for those who have already retired or left the service. Nevertheless, it is extremely complex, as pensions provisions often are.

25 Oct 1999 : Column 39

Several different groups of civilians are involved in the provisions. First, the civilian staff of the Metropolitan Police; secondly, the court staff who have been under receiver; and, thirdly, the probation staff, who have also been paid through the receiver of the Metropolitan Police for historical reasons.

Within each of those three groups there are existing staff who have built up pension rights for their length of service. There will be retired staff already on pensions, and there will no doubt be some staff who have left employment, who have deferred their pensions and who are waiting until they reach pensionable age. For each group within each staff bracket, we should like an assurance that those concerned will not be worse off but will continue to have the same entitlements, or receive the same amount of pension, as they have done until now.

I cannot quite understand the timing. Some of these provisions seem to be due to begin when the Metropolitan Police Authority itself starts to function. That is, after all, the point at which an individual member of the civilian staff stops being employed by the Metropolitan Police through the receiver and becomes employed through the new police authority. However, somehow or other, the Metropolitan Police Authority is required to be consulted about the order before it is made. If the police authority has not entered into its responsibilities, it is difficult to see how it can be consulted under the terms of Amendment No. 566A.

I may be getting the timing wrong, but it is clearly necessary that there should be a time-lag between the setting up of the Metropolitan Police Authority and the actual transfer of the employment if employees are to be properly consulted.

4.45 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I take first the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Tope. I am happy, willing and able to confirm that pensions paid prior and post to the time of transfer will be paid at the same rate. The noble Lord asked whether or not budgets would be affected. I can assure him that they will be unaffected.

The noble Lord, Lord Cope, also raised questions. Consultation for an order to make things effective will take place after 3rd July 2000; in other words, after the MPA has come into effect. I trust that that helps the noble Lord.

I can also assure the House that no one will be worse off as a result of the amendments. In addition, no probation staff will be on the MCSSS scheme. Only police civil staff and inner London justices' clerks will be on that scheme. I trust that that reassures the noble Lord, but I am happy to provide further elucidation if necessary.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

25 Oct 1999 : Column 40

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 536S:


Page 311, line 45, at end insert--

("The Firearms Act 1968

. In section 57(4) of the Firearms Act 1968 (interpretation) in the definition of "civilian officer", paragraph (b) and the word "or" immediately preceding it shall cease to have effect.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I did not object to the grouping but I want to speak to Amendment No. 536S. I should be grateful if the noble Lord could explain what is the effect of this amendment so that I and the House can understand why it does what the Minister claims it does; that is, nothing.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord has me at a disadvantage. I confess that I am struggling to find the right reference so that I may provide him with an answer that is of some value.

As I understand it, the amendment affects the definition of a civilian officer which was inserted into Section 57(4) of the 1968 Act by Section 43 of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997. That definition is amended by deleting "or" and paragraph (b).

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I did get that far, but the noble Lord claimed that the amendment merely tidied up the wording in order to recognise the existence of the Metropolitan Police Authority. It is not at all clear to me how this amendment comes under that rubric. I should be grateful for an explanation as to how it does.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I believe that it will fall within that rubric because the Police Act ceases to have effect. I am conscious that the noble Lord is keen on these matters. The definition of a civilian officer was inserted into the 1997 Act. It was no longer needed because people are no longer employed under the receiver. That provision relates to Amendment No. 536S. Those two matters should satisfy the noble Lord. I appreciate his keenness in those matters.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 536T to 536XB:


Page 313, line 40, at end insert--

("The Employment Agencies Act 1973

. In section 13(7) of the Employment Agencies Act 1973 (cases in which the Act is not to apply) after paragraph (f) there shall be inserted--
"(fa) the exercise by the Metropolitan Police Authority of any of its functions;".").
Page 314, line 6, leave out ("entry") and insert ("entries").
Page 314, line 6, at end insert ("following offices--
(a) Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis,
(b) officer or servant employed under the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis or the Receiver for the Metropolitan Police District, and
(c)")
Page 314, line 11, leave out ("entry") and insert ("entries").

25 Oct 1999 : Column 41


Page 314, line 11, at end insert ("following offices--
(a) Commissioner or Assistant Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis,
(b) officer or servant employed under the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis or the Receiver for the Metropolitan Police District, and
(c)")
Page 315, line 6, leave out from beginning to ("(enforceability") in line 7 and insert (".--(1) The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 shall be amended as follows.
(2) In section 33").
Page 315, line 9, at end insert--
("(3) In section 41 (lost and uncollected property) in subsection (13) in the definition of "local authority", after paragraph (ca) there shall be inserted--
"(caa) the Metropolitan Police Authority; and".").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 536XC:


Page 315, line 12, leave out sub-paragraph (2) and insert--
("(2) In section 26 (exercise of police functions at designated airports), subsection (4) (which makes provision for the application of the section in the case of the metropolitan police district) shall cease to have effect.
(3) In section 29(2) (entitlement of traffic wardens to exercise functions at designated airports) in paragraph (a) the words from "(or," to "metropolis)" shall cease to have effect.
(4) In section 30(3) (transfers of officers and staff) in paragraph (c) the words from "or, if that area is the metropolitan" onwards shall cease to have effect.
(5) In section 31(1) (interpretation) the definition of "members of the metropolitan civil staffs" shall cease to have effect.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for thinking that this Report stage exists just for me. However, I believe that the House needs to understand the amendments that it is passing. Many of the points are self-evident. Although one is prepared to take it on trust, the amendments do in fact do what they appear to do and what the Minister says they do.

Amendment No. 536XC becomes a little more complicated. It is not clear on the face of it that this is consequential on the creation of the Metropolitan Police Authority. I should be grateful for a swift explanation from the Minister as to why the creation of the Metropolitan Police Authority necessitates this and why the amendment does no more than reflect that.


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