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Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, my noble friend makes reference to a point about which I was obviously somewhat obscure in my original reply, given the nature of the two supplementary questions. Of course, there should be a debate. I thought I had made that clear in my response to the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart. On the question of your Lordships' views, that is precisely what I meant when I said it would be helpful to take the discussion of the Royal Commission forward in the context, as the Government have always said, of trying to achieve some basic consensus of an agenda for a Joint Committee.

Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, the noble Baroness has been good enough to explain how the independent members of the appointments commission will be found by PriceWaterhouse. Is she able to tell the House what guidance PriceWaterhouse has been given in relation to the type of member and whether any can be found from this House or all found from this House?

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Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I did not say that the process had been handed over to PriceWaterhouse. What I said, and I repeat, is that that company has been appointed to assist in the recruitment of the chairman and independent members of the House of Lords appointments commission. In colloquial language, it is acting as a professional headhunter in this area, which will be extremely useful. It is important to remember that it is looking at the independent members of the commission. They will be joined by those nominated by the political parties.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: My Lords, will the noble Baroness clarify something she said regarding the circumstances which will lead to the setting up of the Joint Committee of both Houses. In the first instance, the noble Baroness referred to policies and procedures; later, she referred to an "agenda". Those are very different things. I am a little concerned by her suggestion, if I understand her right, that there may be some object in getting common ground before the committee meets. The noble Baroness shakes her head. I took for granted that the terms of reference of the Joint Committee were stage two reform of the House--nothing narrower than that.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, is obviously not aware of what is said in the White Paper. As I tried to outline in my response to the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, it is that, given the establishment of the wide-ranging review of House of Lords reform that the Royal Commission undertook, it is not appropriate, in the Government's view, to invite a subsequent approach on that wide basis. That is why we said in the White Paper that we would ask the Joint Committee to look at the parliamentary aspects of implementing any reform. The Government do not feel that it would be appropriate to invite another, new type of Royal Commission drawn from within the Palace of Westminster to look at precisely the same issues as the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, and his colleagues usefully spent the past year doing.

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe: My Lords, does my noble friend the Minister agree that it is very kind and considerate of the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, to give such advance notice of the new targets and aspirations of Charter 88 and the chattering classes?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, my noble friend characterises the position of the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, in slightly acerbic terms, but perhaps they do derive from that particular environment.

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, can the noble Baroness tell me why this particular firm has been appointed? My understanding is that it consists of accountants, not headhunters.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am afraid the noble Baroness is slightly misinformed. It is indeed

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a firm of accountants, but a very important part of its business focuses on recruitment consultancy. After a tendering exercise, in which I as a Minister was not involved, this firm is the one that has been invited by the Cabinet Office to offer its professional advice in the area.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, given the fact that we are talking about reform of the people's Parliament, the fact that the noble Baroness the Leader of the House said a year ago in answer to my question that she would ensure that there was,

    "a campaign of public information and consultation",

around the reform issue and the fact that there were only seven meetings held by the commission out of London--none of which was advertised--drawing attendances below 100, can the noble Baroness give any indication as to whether the Government plan, even now, to engage in a thorough-going, public consultation and information exercise?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am surprised by the noble Lord's question and the assumptions on which he bases it in relation to the activities of the Royal Commission. From reading the report and the interviews and bearing in mind the context in which the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, expresses the findings, I understand that he feels there was very good public consultation. Indeed, I know for a fact that local commission meetings were publicised. I believe that the Government were the only political party that had a very structured consultation procedure within the party to produce the evidence that we submitted to the Royal Commission.

Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, does the noble Baroness not feel that it is a reflection on the dignity and sovereignty of Parliament to ask a commercial firm to choose people for a constitutional commission? Does that worry her?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, if I may say so, I believe that the noble Lord and others who have raised points on the relationship of PriceWaterhouseCoopers have misunderstood the position. I shall be a little clearer about it. The Cabinet Office was very concerned about the nature and breadth of the recruitment process for this very important constitutional role, which the noble Lord quite rightly identified. In addition to the normal processes of going through the public appointments lists and the list of the Cabinet Office, it seemed sensible to invite a more positive approach in terms of going out to recruit people in the headhunting sense--which, I have to say, is not unconventional in relation to public appointments of many kinds--to see whether a wider trawl could be achieved. Had the Cabinet Office or the Government said, "We have appointed X to be the chairman of this committee", without any reference to a wider body, I suspect that we would no doubt have been accused of "cronyism", if I may use that word.

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Probation Service

2.53 p.m.

Lord Hurd of Westwell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they have received about their proposal to change the name of the Probation Service to the "Community Punishment and Rehabilitation Service".

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My Lords, to date a total of 60 written representations have been received from Members of Parliament, the National Association of Probation Officers, Probation Service staff, probation committee chairs and members of the public. In addition, representatives of the Association of Chief Officers of Probation and the Central Probation Council have raised the issue in discussions with Home Office Ministers.

Lord Hurd of Westwell: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply, although it did not tell us what those representations said. However, I can guess. This Government have acquired quite a reputation as a name changer, but does the Minister agree that not much good is done in the real world by altering the labels on people's official notepaper and on their office doors? There is a good deal of resentment, even ridicule, about this particular proposal. If the Government are determined for reasons of show to alter the respected, and I believe accepted, name of the Probation Service, could they not happen on something a little crisper and less clumsy than what is now proposed?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I respect the noble Lord's great knowledge in this area but we take a different view. As a member of the previous government, the noble Lord will be well aware that they were happy to see the Probation Service as simply assisting and befriending offenders. We take a rather different view. We believe that the service should be there to protect the public, enforce community punishments and reduce re-offending. That is why we have come forward with this particular name-change proposal.

Lord Janner of Braunstone: My Lords, although it is a very good idea to change the name to something more specific, does not my noble friend agree that it is wrong to change a name to something which is unwieldy, ugly and unusable? A probation officer will become a community punishment and rehabilitation officer and that is only one better than being a community rehabilitation and punishment officer, which would produce a very unpleasant acronym.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am not a great friend of unwieldy and unfriendly acronyms. I am sure that only a mischievous mind could misconstrue this particular set of initials in that form.

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