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Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, I am concerned. I cannot see how anyone can take on a financial responsibility and properly carry out his duties in overseeing the way in which money is spent without asking many questions about what it is being spent on. To me, it is like putting the Kray brothers in charge of the Met because the Government have put such responsibility into the hands of people who are likely to have been convicted of terrorism--certainly those people nominated by Sinn Fein/IRA from the Assembly. They certainly claim to have no regard for British justice or the police. I find it extraordinarily difficult to understand how the proposal will work.

I am anxious that the Secretary of State shall have the maximum power because he represents all interests. I am happy to support any proposal which works in the direction of the Secretary of State and the Chief Constable having powers to withhold all information which should not be in the hands of some of the people who will be asking for it. I do not know

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how it can be done but that is my concern. I should like the Minister to reassure me that that what I fear will not be possible.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I welcome the general support for the amendments from around the House, with the possible exception of the noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth. In particular, I welcome the support of the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux.

The amendments require the board, not the Chief Constable, to keep accounts. Clause 12(2) will require the board's duty to keep accounts in respect of police funds to be exercised by the Chief Constable. We believe that those arrangements are appropriate and provide the appropriate degree of protection.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendments Nos. 2 to 4:

    Page 7, line 8, leave out ("his") and insert ("the Chief Constable's").

    Page 7, line 13, leave out ("Chief Constable") and insert ("Board").

    Page 7, line 14, at end insert ("by the Chief Constable").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 14 [Establishment of district policing partnerships]:

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 5:

    Page 8, line 5, at end insert--

("( ) In this Part--
"district commander" means a police officer designated under section 20(3); and
"local policing plan" has the meaning given in section 22(1).").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, Amendment No. 5 defines the terms "district commander" and "local policing plan" for the purposes of Part III. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 26 [The Board's policing plan]:

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton moved Amendment No. 6:

    Page 12, line 28, at end insert--

("( ) Before making regulations under subsection (2)(b), the Secretary of State shall consult the Board and the Chief Constable.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, during the Report stage, concerns were raised that the Bill allows the Secretary of State too much interference in the policing plan because Clause 26(2)(b) allows him to set out in regulations what must be included in the plan. Amendment No. 6 requires the Secretary of State to consult the board before issuing any regulations prescribing the contents of the policing plan.

It should be stressed that these regulations prescribe only the minimum contents of the plan. They will say that the plan must include performance indicators, for example, but not what they should be. That will be a matter for the board. The amendment makes it clear

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that the Secretary of State cannot make regulations without taking into account the views of the board and the Chief Constable. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

3.15 p.m.

Clause 28 [Arrangements relating to economy, efficiency and effectiveness]:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 7:

    Page 13, line 23, leave out ("act together with him") and insert ("involve him in the making of those arrangements").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I am grateful for the constructive way in which these provisions have been debated. Again, I thank the noble Baroness for her contribution. I believe that noble Lords are agreed in substance on the best value provisions but the noble Baroness expressed concern about the wording of Clause 28(3).

Amendment No. 7 changes the current wording of subsection (3). It deletes the requirement for the board to act together with the Chief Constable in making best value arrangements in respect of police functions and substitutes a requirement for the board to involve the Chief Constable in making best value arrangements for policing. This gives assurances that the board will lead in making best value arrangements but preserve the position whereby the board and the Chief Constable must work together to achieve best value.

The Government believe that the Bill now strikes the correct balance. I beg to move.

Baroness Harris of Richmond: My Lords, one of the most important new ingredients in the Bill is the creation of the new policing board. It will have a heavy burden on its shoulders and will need quickly to win the confidence and support of all the people of Northern Ireland. It will be able to do that only if it has the credibility and respect of all the diverse communities. That is why, throughout our debates, I have sought to ensure that the Bill gives the board real powers and responsibilities equivalent to those of police authorities elsewhere. It deserves no less.

I hope that my own small knowledge in this area has been of some assistance to the Government in teasing out where we should strike the balance. I have greatly appreciated the very generous comments the Government have made about that. I also greatly welcome the considerable improvements which they have made to their original proposals on best value and their recognition of the board's primacy in this area.

Achieving best value must be the product of close partnership working between the board and the Chief Constable. A best value review which did not involve the Chief Constable would be of no value at all. I am delighted therefore that the Government have listened to the Liberal Democrat amendments and made appropriate changes in order to meet both our concerns and the particular circumstances of Northern Ireland.

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Perhaps I may beg indulgence for a moment. I said that the new board would have a difficult job. Indeed, it will. I would therefore like to pay particular tribute to the existing Police Authority for Northern Ireland. Its chairman, Pat Armstrong, and all its members and staff have always striven in very difficult circumstances to help to ensure that the people of Northern Ireland get the best from their policing service. Their commitment and dedication have often gone unremarked and unnoticed, but it is they who have created the climate for a new, open and accountable policing board to be put in place. I should like to place on record an acknowledgement of their fine work. I am also grateful to Fionnuala Gill of the Association of Police Authorities and Elizabeth Hanna of the Whips' Office, who have helped me enormously throughout this Bill.

I conclude by offering to the Government and the new board the support and assistance of the Association of Police Authorities. The board will need a great deal of help to make a success of this venture. Recently, we underwent a similar experience with the creation of the new Metropolitan Police Authority. We are very happy to place all that expertise at the disposal of the new board. I wish it well.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, we all support the tribute to the Police Authority for Northern Ireland for its work over a very long period. I refer not only to the existing authority but its chairmen and members over a large number of years. Alongside the RUC they have had to face the most appalling conditions and difficulties with terrorism and all the rest of it. For a long period a large number of people have worked extremely hard and valiantly to achieve those aims.

As to the detail of the amendment, I tried to find out the legal difference between "act together" and "involve with", which is quite a nuance. It will come to the crunch only if there is a disagreement between the board and the Chief Constable about the arrangements which are covered by the clause. Essentially, the amendment provides that, if there is a disagreement, the Chief Constable's position will be weaker, although not much. Frankly, there is a good deal of difference in the wording. That was my understanding from the noble and learned Lord's introduction. I am slightly cautious about it.

As I said at an earlier stage of our debates, the Government have failed to change the incorrect wording. Under this provision, the arrangements seek economy, efficiency and effectiveness, whereas one should seek effectiveness, efficiency and economy. This police force, and the board which is to be in charge of it, will have a much more difficult job than any other police force in the United Kingdom, if not the world.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, I join in the tributes to the police authority for its splendid work over many years. I hope that in years to come it will have influence and that there will be a smooth transition from the present structure to the new one. I agree with what has been said. Nothing could have

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been more disastrous for Northern Ireland than to have the three main elements of the security situation pulling in opposite directions. In my time in the Armed Forces we did not have what is now called "jointry" and it was not uncommon for forces to act contrary to each other, sometimes with disastrous results. I welcome this clause and the preceding one.

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