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Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. Does he not concede that he is throwing away one of the advantages of the structure he has put into the Bill? Is it not self-apparent that as regards local property matters a local board, with a chief probation officer and staff, will be much nearer mother earth than can conceivably be the case through a centralised service?

The Minister neatly divided operational and property matters, but in the real world nothing is more frustrating and obstructive to getting things moving than having a property issue decided from afar. In many cases, it can be dealt with quickly, cheaply and efficiently on one's own doorstep. The argument is therefore not one of principle but of practicality.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord makes a useful contribution. However, I believe that from time to time the local board, with its chairman or chief officer, will need to make a business case to the centre for perhaps a change in the way in which the totality of the probation estate, administered by a local area board, is run and organised. It should make that business case on an understanding that ultimately it will need to be guided and advised within a national framework.

Through such a process, we gain the benefit of local knowledge and advice and of having a national schema which enables the efficiencies of a larger body of procurement to take place and roll through. Those are good procurement efficiency objectives, as I would have thought the noble Lord would understand.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, again, I am obliged to the Minister for giving way. Can he explain what is the "national schema" as regards property matters? What possible national issue could bear on the decision of a local probation board as to whether to have a hostel in Smith Street or in Acacia Avenue?

5 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, clearly the "national schema" is the scheme for the national probation service which we seek to set up through the

31 Oct 2000 : Column 821

delivery of this legislation. If there is a national organisation of substance, although perhaps not the largest in the world, efficiencies can be achieved by having someone with responsibility for the running and good management of the estate which is held nationally. But it is important that local efficiencies are brought to the attention of the national organisation. Therefore, the relationship between local and national level is important.

From time to time, undoubtedly there will be a need to develop a business case for the rationalisation, development, rebuilding and recasting of how the service operates through its local estate. That is a carefully negotiated relationship. We want the best of local advice and the handling of procurement on a nation-wide basis. We believe that we can achieve that objective much more effectively by holding the estate nationally in this way.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, the response is bewildering. The Government now appear to be much more concerned about national control. What matters at the end of the day is the most efficient and effective delivery of the service to the people on the ground in local areas. There is a constant concern--almost fetish--about the national position. We do not disagree with the Minister that there should be consistency of service and performance across the country with the setting of national standards, and that the Secretary of State should have the funding rather than that it be split as between local and national level. However, the service must be delivered locally; for example, the manning of interview rooms which are confidential to the client groups. Therefore, property management is a real local issue.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, sometimes I believe that the noble Baroness does not understand that crime is a national and international phenomenon. The Probation Service is an important part of the machinery of enforcement, and I believe that it is sensible to talk about the creation of a national service. I agree that probation officers should understand the importance of creating and delivering the service at local interview rooms. Those kinds of issues can be resolved when a property is managed locally. I do not believe that the noble Baroness sees the bigger picture. That is the important point on which I ask the noble Baroness to reflect.

I have always had a good deal of respect for Conservative politicians who argue for the creation and design of effective and efficient services because there is common ground between us. What we seek here is to create efficiencies in the system. I believe that the argument of the noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, is against those principles, particularly with regard to national procurement.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I understand all too well that crime is a national issue with which the Government should concern themselves. I have no argument with that. If one looks at the example of the local management of schools, which was initiated by

31 Oct 2000 : Column 822

us and is supported by the Government and the Liberal Democrats, the whole point of it is that every pound spent at local level achieves very much better value for money than local government or central government can possibly achieve. Why is that? Local people have a vested interest in freeing up every possible pound that can be used in operating the service, whether it be a school, a hospital or the Probation Service. That is the point which the Minister misses the whole time.

The noble Lord referred to the Probation Service and police authorities being coterminous. I do not believe that nationally the Government own all the police property and land. Therefore, in that case there is a distinction between national and local ownership. The local service will jealously guard the value for money factor. Local people have a real vested interest because they benefit from good value-for-money decisions. I do not understand the Government's case, and the Government have not understood my points and those put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury. I wish to test the opinion of the House.

5.5 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 9) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 178; Not-Contents, 133.

Division No. 4


Ackner, L.
Addington, L.
Alderdice, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Ashcroft, L.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Attlee, E.
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Bell, L.
Biffen, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Bowness, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brittan of Spennithorne, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller]
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carrington, L.
Cavendish of Furness, L.
Chadlington, L.
Clark of Kempston, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Colwyn, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Courtown, E.
Craig of Radley, L.
Craigavon, V.
Cranborne, V.
Crickhowell, L.
Cuckney, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Dahrendorf, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Deedes, L.
Denham, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Ezra, L.
Falkland, V.
Feldman, L.
Ferrers, E.
Forsyth of Drumlean, L.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Geddes, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Greaves, L.
Greenway, L.
Griffiths of Fforestfach, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hanham, B.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Higgins, L.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hogg, B.
Holderness, L.
Hooper, B.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howe, E.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
Hutchinson of Lullington, L.
Hylton, L.
Jacobs, L.
Kelvedon, L.
Kimball, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kirkham, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Liverpool, E.
Ludford, B.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Marlesford, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
McNally, L.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Newby, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Noakes, B.
Norfolk, D.
Northbrook, L.
Northesk, E.
Northover, B.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Palmer, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Prior, L.
Razzall, L.
Redesdale, L.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Rennard, L.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Russell, E.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
Saatchi, L.
Sandberg, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Seccombe, B.
Selsdon, L.
Sharman, L.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Warwick, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vinson, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Warnock, B.
Watson of Richmond, L.
Wigoder, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Willoughby de Broke, L.
Windlesham, L.
Young, B.
Young of Graffham, L.


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Bach, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Bledisloe, V.
Borrie, L.
Bragg, L.
Brennan, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Crawley, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fitt, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kirkhill, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Longford, E.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Marsh, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Molloy, L.
Morgan, L.
Nicol, B.
Parekh, L.
Patel, L.
Patel of Blackburn, L.
Paul, L.
Peston, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Serota, B.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Tenby, V.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Warner, L.
Weatherill, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

31 Oct 2000 : Column 824

5.15 p.m.

Baroness Blatch moved Amendments Nos. 10 and 11:

    Page 54, line 18, after ("hold") insert ("or manage").

    Page 54, line 18, at end insert ("without the approval of the Secretary of State").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 5 [Functions of local boards]:

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