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Lord Renton: I have only one brief comment but I hope the Committee will think it very relevant.

We have too many amendments like this. But it is essential that this branch of the law should be well understood not only by the police but also the public and the legal profession. Such an amendment points to the need for consolidation of this branch of the law. When the Bill reaches the statute book, I hope that the Government will put it early on the list for consolidation with those statutes which the Bill amends; otherwise the law will be in chaos.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: I am so glad that my noble friend raises the point. I remind him that at an earlier stage in Committee I said that I had inquired of the Public Bill Office what programme existed for further consolidation measures. The answer was that except for one measure which concerned European

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legislation there was nothing on the stocks. I am sure my noble friend's already justified indignation will be further fired by that.

Lord Renton: It is a good thing that my noble friend draws attention to it. I hope that it may cause the Government to change their mind.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I am grateful to the Government for raising the point. It is interesting that there are no powers to discipline special constables but powers to suspend them. One might have assumed that that was a disciplinary function. However, the principle of what the noble Lord says is right. I agree about the need for consolidating legislation.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I can delight the Committee by saying that on Thursday there will be a Motion to set up a Joint Committee on consolidation Bills. No doubt the noble Lord, Lord Renton, will be able to put his two penn'orth into that although I note that he is not listed as playing a part. No doubt that Joint Committee could benefit from his advice. I am grateful for comments made from noble Lords opposite.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 32 agreed to.

Clauses 56 to 59 agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 307 to 309 not moved.]

Clause 60 [Nationality requirements applicable to police officers etc.]:

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 310:

    Page 54, line 39, after "provision" insert "made by regulations made under section 34A or 79A of the 1997 Act (regulations for members of NCIS and NCS) or"

The noble Lord said: Clauses 64 and 65 permit direct recruitment of officers by the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service. At present, both organisations operate a rank structure only in the sense that officers on secondment take their substantive ranks with them. With the advent of direct recruitment, we need to provide for a formal rank structure and promotion system.

The government amendments do this by importing into the Police Act 1997 a power to make regulations in respect of the government and administration of NCS and NCIS and conditions of service within those bodies. The regulation-making power in each case is similar to that contained in Section 50 of the Police Act 1996 and as such would enable the two organisations to be brought into line with police forces in respect of the framework that applies to the employment of police officers.

The amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, suggests that were regulations to be made in accordance with new Section 34A the Secretary of State should provide for the redundancy of the Director General of NCIS. I believe that the amendment may have been prompted by the mistaken belief that we are seeking to introduce new powers for

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the Secretary of State to have a direct hand in the management of NCIS. That is not the case. As I have made clear, the proposed regulation-making power mirrors that contained in the Police Act and provides the framework within which police officers can be employed. This is a necessary consequence of the introduction of directly employed police officers. It removes none of the powers currently vested in the Director General or in the service authorities for NCIS and the National Crime Squad. Therefore, we clearly cannot accept Amendment No. 312A

The new Sections 34A and 79A inserted into the 1997 Act also replicate in respect of the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service the provisions in Clause 32 which relate to the conduct of disciplinary proceedings against members of Home Office forces. This will enable regulations to be made covering the rights of the Independent Police Complaints Commission with regard to disciplinary proceedings, the right of specified persons to participate in or to be present at disciplinary proceedings and to provide for inference to be drawn from a failure to mention a fact when questioned or charged in police disciplinary proceedings.

The supplementary provisions provide for regulations made under the new Sections 34A and 79A of the 1997 Act to be linked to the Police Negotiating Board and the Police Advisory Board in the way that regulations made under Section 50 of the 1996 Act are linked. It is expected that regulations for the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service will mirror closely those of other forces. I beg to move.

6.30 p.m.

Lord Dixon-Smith: I shall have to work with much greater care and subtlety because the Minister is beginning to read my mind. He precisely divined my thinking in tabling Amendment No. 312A which is grouped with the amendments.

With the assurance that the proposed amendment is not out of line with the regulations relating to employment, I am happy not to move my amendment. My fear was—if one reads the amendment prima facie it is a serious fear—that there would be nothing left for the director to do. If this is in line with other legislation, I shall accept the Minister's assurance.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 60, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Dixon-Smith: Clause 60 is an oddity. Its first line states:

    "Irrespective of his place of birth, a person of any nationality may be . . . a member of a police force".

We oppose the Question that Clause 60 shall stand part of the Bill in order to probe precisely what the Government mean by putting that clause on the face of the Bill. I accept that the situation is not straightforward. At the present time we already admit Irish citizens and Commonwealth citizens to the police service. But they are both subject to various forms of

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regulation. It may be that in that regard there is a case for doing something for citizens of the European Community.

However, as worded, the Bill appears to be too open. It appears to make it possible for a Chinaman born at the South Pole—if one can conceive of such a thing—to apply to be a member of the British police service. I am sure that that is not the Government's intention. I am equally sure that the Government probably have the very best of intentions in putting the clause in the Bill. It ensures that there is no disincentive for any British citizen who happens to have been born abroad, but has been living here and so on, who might consider himself to be a part of a non-British ethnic community—if one can put the matter that way—in joining the police force.

If that is the case, the clause should be slightly more felicitously and precisely worded, or we should know what the other requirements will be in respect of people joining the police force. Presumably it is as is mentioned in subsection (4) at the end of the clause:

    "Without prejudice to the generality . . . that may be made . . . regulations . . . may include provision imposing any of the following requirements—

(a) requirements with respect to the competence in written and spoken English . . . (b) requirements with respect to the immigration status . . . (c) requirements with respect to nationality in the case of particular ranks offices or positions". To specify particular races for particular ranks might be particularly offensive to some people. That could be immensely difficult. There is a lack of clarity and a lack of precision about Clause 60. I give the Minister and the Government marks for having the best of intentions, but because of the clause's lack of clarity we have opposed the Question that Clause 60 shall stand part of the Bill. We can thus debate the issue and find out precisely what the Government are thinking and what they intend. It may be that at the end of the discussion we shall all be the better for it.

Lord Dholakia: I am glad that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, is probing into this particular matter. He and I probably come at the issue from different angles but probably for the same reason. I suspect—I may be wrong—that the provision has been incorporated to meet the provisions of the race relations legislation. Discrimination is defined as treating someone less favourably on the grounds of race, colour, national or ethnic origin. The words "national" and "nationality" therefore are a matter of concern. That is why the clause has been incorporated.

I speak strongly in favour of Clause 60 standing part of the Bill. My reasons are simple. Recruitment should be based on competence and skills. A modern police service must be as diverse as possible to reflect the society and community that it serves. That is an aim that the Government have repeatedly endorsed.

With the recruitment market getting ever tighter, all options must be considered to ensure that the recruitment pool is as broad as possible, while retaining quality through robust recruitment standards.

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The office of constable brings special powers and responsibilities. It represents an important part of the fabric of this country. But we should not impose a nationality bar that prevents people with the right level of skills and experience from joining the police force simply because of their nationality.

It is also important that the Bill includes many safeguards. In particular, all potential recruits must meet basic standards in relation to written and spoken English; vetting processes must be capable of being carried out; and certain posts and ranks can continue to be retained for British nationals only. But, if it is the intention of the Government, as specified in the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, to make sure that the police, as other organisations, have a duty to promote equality, then this is the right clause for that.

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