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Lord Cope of Berkeley: It will be known to many Members of the Committee that I am an accountant. Therefore noble Lords will reasonably suppose that I am in favour of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. In fact I believe that those three words are in the wrong order. I think that effectiveness should be first, followed by efficiency and then economy. But we have

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not tabled an amendment to that effect and I shall not press the point. The Bill refers to a combination of those three factors.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer, spoke of fairness and impartiality. They are extremely important. It is good that they are written into the Bill, even if in other places. But this clause refers to the performance plan which is supposed to measure the effectiveness, and so on, of the force and the policing operations undertaken.

If there are to be two separate plans--a performance plan and a policing plan--I can understand that. However, there is a problem with having two plans. Effectiveness, efficiency and economy cannot be seen in isolation from policing. Effectiveness, be it the first or the last of the criteria, relates precisely to what the force is trying to do--catch criminals, deter crime and all the rest of it. The awkwardness stems from having two separate plans.

That is not exclusive to Northern Ireland. The noble Baroness, Lady Harris, knows about it from her other responsibilities. However, it is a difficulty. I recognise that there is a difference between the things that accountants can measure and the things that cannot be measured, which are often equally important. That is also recognised in the Bill, because performance indicators and performance standards are separately allowed for. The indicators can be measured. Whether a target has been met can be worked out by an arithmetical calculation. It ismore difficult to say whether the standards have been met. The fact that they cannot be measured does not make them less important.

It is difficult to see the performance plan separately from the policing plan. I have not proposed changes to the Bill and I do not intend to oppose any of the Minister's amendments, because his proposals to give the board greater responsibility go in the right direction. However, the performance plan and the policing plan will need to be published together and thought of together to ensure that they are properly co-ordinated.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The noble Baroness, Lady Harris, congratulated us but said that we could go a little further. As we have said on other issues, we are devising arrangements for Northern Ireland. These are complex provisions and we shall consider the points that she has raised. I assure her that we intend that the board will be involved in reviews of its own functions and the police functions.

The noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Cope, referred to the possible difficulty of there being both a policing plan and a performance plan. We envisage that the performance plan under this clause will form part of the policing plan under Clause 26. Clause 3 of the draft regulations, which have been published, makes it clear that the board's policing plan should include, among a long list of things, any performance plans prepared and published under Clause 28.

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The noble Lord, Lord Cope, did not press his suggestion of changing the order of the three words. On the points made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer, it is sensible to focus on effectiveness, efficiency and economy in this clause. The points that he raised on Amendment No. 114 are important. We fully subscribe to them and they are covered elsewhere. It must be right that one clause deals with matters of efficiency. That is the right focus.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 112:

    Page 13, line 11, after ("functions") insert (", and those of the Chief Constable,").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 113 and 114 not moved.]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 115:

    Page 13, line 13, leave out subsections (2) to (6) and insert--

("(2) The arrangements shall require the Board to conduct, at intervals specified in the arrangements, reviews of the way in which its functions are exercised.
(3) The arrangements shall also require the Chief Constable to conduct, at intervals specified in the arrangements, reviews of the way in which his functions are exercised.
(4) The Board shall prepare and publish a plan (its "performance plan") for each financial year containing details of how the arrangements made under subsection (1) in that year are to be implemented.
(5) The performance plan shall--
(a) identify factors ("performance indicators") by reference to which performance in exercising functions can be measured;
(b) set standards ("performance standards") to be met in the exercise of particular functions in relation to performance indicators; and
(c) include a summary of the Board's assessment of--
(i) its and the Chief Constable's performance in the previous financial year measured by reference to performance indicators;
(ii) the extent to which any performance standard which applied at any time during that year was met.
(6) Before publishing its performance plan, the Board must consult the Secretary of State and the Chief Constable.
(7) In this Part--
"performance indicators" and "performance standards" have the meaning given in subsection (5); and
"performance plan" means a plan published by the Board under subsection (4).").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 116 not moved.]

Clause 28, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 29 [Audit of performance plans]:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 117:

    Page 14, line 5, leave out from ("plan") to ("shall") in line 6.

The noble and learned Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 117, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 118 to 125, which I am happy to say are all correctly in my name.

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I explained the overall position on "best value" when I spoke to Clause 28. The amendments to Clause 29 are consequential to the changes to Clause 28. They remove references to the Secretary of State's order-making power which has now been deleted from Clause 28, as have references to the Chief Constable. The policy that the Comptroller and Auditor-General will audit the best value programmes, commenting, for example, on whether targets are realistic, is maintained. I beg to move.

Baroness Harris of Richmond: I wish to speak to Amendments Nos. 117 to 125 and Amendments Nos. 126, 127, 130 and 131. The amendments in my name are consequential on those that we have just discussed. I welcome the Government's support for them.

Perhaps I may express my concern in relation to government Amendment No. 121. That amendment would give the Comptroller and Auditor-General the power to substitute his judgment for that of the police board with regard to what are appropriate performance indicators and targets. First, is that the job of an auditor? Is it not a matter on which we should look more properly to HM Inspector of Constabulary to take a view? Secondly, it is a complete departure from the best value role given to auditors in Great Britain. I do not understand the logic behind the move. Again, I would welcome the opportunity to discuss the matter further with the noble and learned Lord before Report stage so that we get right this important part of the legislation.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I have one or two questions which arise from these amendments. I notice that Amendment No. 121 suggests that the Comptroller and Auditor-General should express a view only on the functions of the Chief Constable and not on those of the board. It seems to me that, as he is auditing the functions of the board as well as those of the Chief Constable, he might be expected to express an opinion, if he wishes, on both those matters.

Secondly, why is it proposed that the Comptroller and Auditor-General's report should be published by the board as opposed to by the Comptroller and Auditor-General himself? I do not believe that there is a great deal of difference because presumably the board will not alter the report. Perhaps it is only a question of timing. However, I considered it to be worth asking the question.

The noble Baroness, Lady Harris of Richmond, raised the question as to whether such matters are the job of an auditor. Of course there are differences between the role of the Comptroller and Auditor-General in the government sphere and that of a private sector auditor, which many years ago I was. The auditor of a company examines the books and accounts to ensure that they present a true and fair view and to ensure that there has been no fraud, and so on.

The Comptroller and Auditor-General in government has had a much wider role, particularly in recent years, expressing his view on the efficiency of

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the delivery of the service in government which he is investigating. I believe it is right that the Comptroller and Auditor-General in the public sector should have a wider role in comparison with the company auditor in the private sector. I believe that that is reflected here in the Bill.

There is also a difference between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in this respect. Because the police in Great Britain essentially are answerable to the local authority, the Inspector of Constabulary looms larger in overseeing matters.

In Northern Ireland, the Comptroller and Auditor-General looks at all the functions of government, and the police is a function of central government. I admit that it is under the direct rule of a single department and now, as we know, the Secretary of State and the board under him. Therefore, the Comptroller and Auditor-General is drawn into the role almost of the Inspectorate of Constabulary.

There is a slight difficulty that those two bodies may be looking at the same things and we may reach a position in which the Comptroller and Auditor-General is making one recommendation in relation to, for example, the effectiveness of the police in Northern Ireland while the Inspectorate of Constabulary is recommending something else.

But if that happens, I presume that it will be a case of divide and rule. The Secretary of State, the board and the Chief Constable will, in their respective roles, be able to choose which advice they follow. That is not necessarily bad but it is something which we should note as we take through these provisions.

10.30 p.m.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: First, the noble Lord, Lord Cope, referred to Amendment No. 121. He asked why the provisions do not cover the board as well as the Chief Constable. At first blush, that looks to be a good point. Perhaps I may return on Report with a response to the point which the noble Lord has made.

Secondly, reference was made to the Comptroller and Auditor-General. The noble Baroness, Lady Harris, wondered whether it was appropriate for an "auditor" to be auditing the best value performance plans. The answer to that was given in part by the noble Lord, Lord Cope. The role of the Comptroller and Auditor-General, particularly in Northern Ireland, as opposed to the rest of the United Kingdom, is more than that simply of an auditor. He has roles beyond that. Therefore, it is not inappropriate, in the context of Northern Ireland, that he should inspect the best value plans. That is certainly not detrimental to the board.

The noble Lord, Lord Cope, raised a point in relation to who should publish the findings of the Comptroller and Auditor-General. As for England, we shall need to work out the relationship of the Comptroller and Auditor-General with HM Inspectorate of Constabulary. That is not a matter which should be dealt with specifically in the Bill.

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We are genuinely grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Harris, for the detailed matters which she has raised. It may be appropriate to arrange a meeting between Committee and Report stages so that the detailed proposals can be discussed, the vast majority of them not being appropriate for the face of the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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