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Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, lest the House should believe that it is only my noble friend who is interested in this matter, I, too, should be grateful for an explanation.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I must confess that this matter is proving more taxing than I had imagined it might otherwise be. That is not to say that I am to be entirely defeated by these very important points as they arise.

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Amendment No. 536XC amends the Aviation Security Act 1982. It reflects an amendment in relation to the Metropolitan Police district. I believe that should help the noble Lord.

Amendments Nos. 536XA and 536XB define the MPA as a local authority for the purposes of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982. We all know that that is important because it affects property in local authority premises. The provision brings the MPA into line with other public authorities. I trust that that satisfies the noble Lord's inquiries.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendments Nos. 536XD to 536XG:


Page 315, line 22, leave out paragraph 45 and insert--
("45.--(1) Section 97 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (supplementary provisions as to traffic wardens) shall be amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (1) (application of regulations) the words "employed outside the metropolitan police district" shall cease to have effect.
(3) Subsection (4) (wardens in the metropolitan police district) shall cease to have effect.").
Page 317, line 14, at end insert--

("Monitoring officers

. In section 5 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (designation and reports of monitoring officer) in subsection (1) (duty to designate officer as monitoring officer) after "Police Act 1996" there shall be inserted "or the Metropolitan Police Authority".").
Page 317, line 19, at end insert--
("Financial provisions

. In section 157 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (commutation of payments to local authorities) in subsection (6) (meaning of "local authority") for paragraph (f) there shall be substituted--
"(f) the Metropolitan Police Authority;".").
Page 317, line 30, at end insert ("; and
(b) at the end there shall be inserted "or the Metropolitan Police Authority".").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Lord Clement-Jones moved Amendment No. 537:


Page 324, line 41, leave out (""subsection") and insert (""subsections (4) to").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, after that piece of excitement perhaps we can turn to borough police community consultative groups.

In moving Amendment No. 537, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 538. The existing police community consultative arrangements are currently borough-based and therefore equate with local government boundaries in London. On these Benches, we wish to see that preserved. That is what Amendments Nos. 537 and 538 seek to achieve.

The police consultative groups in London, their co-ordinators and the voluntary organisations involved with them also feel strongly that they wish to see the existing structures continue. Our case is that the arrangements now enshrined in the Police Act 1996

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which were formerly in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 have worked extremely well for 15 years. They should not simply be done away with as part of this Bill. That would be a retrograde step.

The present borough consultative arrangements were set up in the aftermath of the traumatic Brixton disorders in 1981. As a long-standing Lambeth resident, I saw the way in which those consultative arrangements came into being, as recommended by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Scarman. I have also seen the success which they have had, and I detailed that at greater length in Committee.

We believe that without that statutory structure there will be a temptation simply to move forward with a statutory structure of partnership under the Crime and Disorder Act with local authorities and with the Probation Service, but not taking account adequately of local borough interests. Indeed, in the Metropolitan Police Service's report of 1998-99 I can find no reference to police consultative groups. I believe that that is an unfortunate pointer. We do not believe that it is right to abolish the existing borough basis of consultation.

Ministers claimed in Committee that the Bill as currently drafted will do nothing to affect the statutory basis of the current arrangements. However, a former Home Office Minister, Kate Hoey, said in another place that the police community consultative groups will be secure if they work well. Does that mean that some will be allowed to fall by the wayside? Perhaps the Minister can explain.

The 1996 Act, as currently drafted, is very clear. It ensures that consultation takes place on a borough-by-borough basis. However, paragraph 98 of Schedule 22 of the current Bill deletes this statutory duty. That simply leaves subsection (2), which is far less specific as to the borough basis of consultation.

In Committee the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, said that the current PCCGs were creatures of guidance rather than statute. I hope the Minister will be able to elucidate that. Is the MPS currently not complying with the 1996 Police Act? That is the implication of what the Minister said. However, during that part of the Committee stage the hour was late. It may be that we can all benefit from a re-run at a rather earlier hour. Perhaps the Minister would then be able to give us more details.

The basis of the Minister's case seems to have been that London should be treated the same as any other part of the United Kingdom, and that therefore there should be no prescription about the geographical area of the consultative groups. However, the natural and logical area for such consultation in London is the borough. And "if it ain't broke, why fix it"? What is the underlying motive for these amendments? Some groups may need to be made more effective in London. Some of those borough consultative groups may indeed need to be made more effective. But surely that is a rather different issue. I beg to move.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, the amendments standing in my name and that of my noble friend which

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are grouped with the noble Lord's amendments achieve the same effect. We believe that our drafting is to be preferred. It is a little more elaborate than that of the noble Lord. However, I do not emphasise that point.

I agree with the comments made by the noble Lord. However, there is some confusion about what the borough's place is supposed to be. Very wisely, the Metropolitan Police have moved towards borough policing. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 provides that every London borough, like other local authorities elsewhere, must formulate and implement a strategy for the reduction of crime and disorder within that borough. Yet, as far as I can see, the Bill attempts to remove the obligation of the Metropolitan Police to talk to the boroughs at all.

That seems to be moving the policy in the opposite direction from the Crime and Disorder Act. I believe that some amendments, along the lines suggested by either the noble Lord or ourselves, are required.

5 p.m.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, I support my noble friend. These committees have performed a great service, particularly in Notting Hill where I was a resident for a long time. It is important that such committees should be related to the borough and a democratic structure rather than to something ill-defined, such as the "Notting Hill Community", or whatever. That would allow the police or other interest groups to say what the community is and by whom it should be dictated. We need to have an anchorage into democracy and into the proper, ordinary representation of the people. We should not allow these matters to drift into becoming sectional interests and unrepresentative groups. I believe that the link with the boroughs matters. I hope that the Government will consider retaining it.

Lord Tope: My Lords, I rise to support the comments of my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones. Whether or not there is justification, there is still considerable concern among the borough police consultative groups as to their future. That concern was added to rather than alleviated by the discussion we had in Committee.

It would help greatly if, when replying, the Minister could state clearly and unequivocally that the Government have no intention of changing or seeing changed the present arrangements for borough-based police consultative groups; that they will remain as presently constituted unless and until at some unspecified time in the future the new Metropolitan Police Authority may deem it appropriate to review such arrangements.

No doubt if and when that authority takes that view, it will do so with full and proper consultation. However, that is some time in the indefinite future, if ever. For the present, we and, more particularly, the police consultative groups, seek clear and unequivocal reassurance from the Government that the groups will

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continue in existence as presently constituted after the establishment of the Greater London Authority and, with it, the Metropolitan Police Authority.


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