The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My Lords, the Liverpool care pathway is an internationally recognised framework to guide the delivery of high-quality care for people in their last hours or days of life. It is not a means of euthanasia and is therefore entirely consistent with the outcome of parliamentary debates and votes on the subject. The Liverpool care pathway helps to ensure that people die with dignity, respect and minimum distress.
Baroness Knight of Collingtree: My Lords, is my noble friend aware, however, that although the Liverpool care pathway is certainly not intended to be a tool for euthanasia, that is what a growing number of people now believe it to be, judging by their own experiences? Is he aware that consultants are not always informed that their patients have been put on this pathway, and neither are those patients nor their relatives invariably told? Will he look into what is happening, since the very name "pathway" indicates that they are shortly to face induced death, as indeed they do?
Earl Howe: My Lords, I recognise that some people who have been on the Liverpool care pathway have received poor care. The pathway is not of itself a guarantor of best-quality care. It has been consistently made clear in the guidance for the implementation of the Liverpool care pathway that it is in no way a replacement for clinical judgment and should not be treated as a simple tick-box exercise. Rather, it should be seen as a useful framework to guide the delivery of care in a way that complements the skill and expertise of the practitioner using it.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I refer the House to my health interests in the register. Does the noble Earl agree that the noble Baroness, Lady Knight, has done sterling work in bringing to the attention of Parliament issues to do with the appropriate feeding and nutrition of patients in hospitals, but that on this issue she is wrong? Will he confirm that the national care of the dying audit shows that in fact the vast majority of patients on the care pathway in the last
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Earl Howe: My Lords, we will continue to do so. The Liverpool care pathway has sometimes been accused of being a way of withholding treatment, including hydration and nutrition. That is not the case. It is used to prevent dying patients from having the distress of receiving treatment or tests that are not beneficial and that may in fact cause harm rather than good. The noble Lord was right that the recent national care of the dying audit of hospitals, run by Marie Curie in collaboration with the Royal College of Physicians, notes that in 94% of documented cases discussions explaining the use of the LCP were held with relatives or carers. That audit process gives clinicians an opportunity to feed in their views about how well, or not so well, the pathway is working in practice.
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, given that the Government have recognised that the Liverpool care pathway has been designed to bring the best of hospice care into other care settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes and patients' own homes, and that it is a tool-and a tool is often only as good as the person using it-will the Government ensure that Health Education England includes in its remit comprehensive education around the appropriate care of dying patients?
Earl Howe: Yes, my Lords. To ensure that it is used properly, the Liverpool care pathway emphasises the importance of staff receiving appropriate training and support in its use as well as accessing relevant end of life training and education programmes. A range of activity has been undertaken to support staff education and training and end of life care by the national end of life care programme and others. That includes the development of an extensive package of e-learning, which is free to access for health and social care staff.
Baroness Browning: Will my noble friend tell the House whether there is ongoing monitoring of patients who are sedated but not hydrated? Looking at people who are dying can take a long time. My noble friend mentioned a few hours or a few days. If you are not hydrated for days on end, inevitably death will come. What analysis is there?
Earl Howe: My Lords, one key feature of the Liverpool care pathway is regular monitoring of the patient-every four hours at a minimum, I believe. That regular monitoring process gives clinicians and nursing staff an opportunity to reassess the patient's condition to see whether they are in fact responding to treatment, whether they require a different form of treatment or whether the treatment they are being given is unduly burdensome. That regular monitoring should, I think, take care of the point my noble friend raises.
The Lord Bishop of Liverpool: My Lords, I have some contact with the Liverpool care pathway in Liverpool. Does the Minister agree that not just palliative
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Earl Howe: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate is absolutely right. Audits that have been carried out, particularly the recent audit published in December last year, provide us with important information about the current quality of care provision. The recent audit makes a series of recommendations, including mandatory training in the care of the dying for all healthcare staff involved and a seven day, nine to five, face to face palliative care service.
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, is the Minister aware that my own dear mother spent her last days on the Liverpool care pathway? Is he further aware that our family experience was of extraordinary care and sensitivity on the part of all the healthcare professionals involved, enabling us to be with my mother peacefully at home at her death? Confusion reigns over the title. A family friend, hearing that Mum was on the Liverpool care pathway, thought that a miraculous recovery had taken place and that she was taking a leisurely stroll in one of our great northern cities.
Earl Howe: My Lords, I am pleased to hear that the noble Baroness's mother was well looked after with the benefit of the Liverpool care pathway. I take the point about the name. Indeed, the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay, can probably give us some instructive examples from Wales, where the word "pathway" has not been adopted and the process has, I believe, been refined.
Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that some relatives and loved ones have to fight to stop their loved ones being on the Liverpool care programme? Can he think of anything worse than dying of thirst?
Earl Howe: My Lords, no one should be denied basic care at the end of life. However, that is a different question from whether artificial nutrition and hydration should be withheld. Relatives should always be consulted.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will exercise their right, as agreed in the Lisbon Treaty, to opt out of the extension to the United Kingdom from December 2014 of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over crime and policing laws.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): My Lords, the Government are considering carefully the many different factors involved in this decision and its implications. I am aware of the level of interest in the decision, which we have to make by the end of May 2014. We want to ensure that both Houses of Parliament have the opportunity for a full debate and vote on the issue.
Lord Vinson: I thank the Minister for his considered reply. However, does he agree that we now have the opportunity, at this critical time for the EU's future, to confirm our opt-out from the EU's overall control of our policing and justice system? I am sure he appreciates that to opt in would be the final surrender of our sovereignty. Our Ministry of Justice would become largely redundant as the ECJ became our supreme court. We would effectively become a province in the republic of Europe. Will the Minister confirm that the Government are well aware of the severity of this choice for our nation and will inform the wider public accordingly?
Lord Henley: My Lords, as I said in my original Answer, we are committed to making a decision by May 2014. It is a very important decision and we understand its severity. That is why we have committed ourselves to a debate in both Houses of Parliament, followed by a vote. In the end, the decision will be based on what is in the interests of the United Kingdom. My right honourable friend has given that assurance.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, the Minister will recognise that in January 2011, when committing the Government to a vote in both Houses on Protocol 36, the Minister for Europe said in another place:
"The Government will conduct further consultations on the arrangements for this vote, in particular with the European Scrutiny Committees, and the Commons and Lords Home Affairs and Justice Select Committees and a further announcement will be made in due course".-[Official Report, Commons, 20/1/11; col. 51WS.]
Will the Minister say what sort of consultations they have in mind and what their timing will be? Does he agree that all these consultations need to take place in a deliberate and fully transparent way if the subsequent vote in both Houses is to be conducted on a sound evidential basis?
Lord Henley: My Lords, the precise words that the noble Lord used about the Government conducting further consultations-I could go on-are in front of me in my brief. I agree with them and that is what we committed ourselves to in January 2011. How we conduct those arrangements will be a matter for discussions in the appropriate place at the appropriate time between the European Scrutiny Committees and the Commons and Lords Home Affairs and Justice Select Committees. We need to discuss these things with a number of different committees. I make it clear to the House and the noble Lord today how seriously we take this and why we think it vital that we eventually have that debate and vote in both Houses.
Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, when the Government come to make this important decision, will they recognise that ordinary British citizens are less inclined to be concerned about abstract notions of sovereignty than about the ways in which they will be protected when they are in other European countries? There are very cogent arguments in favour of European harmonisation in these areas.
Lord Henley: My Lords, there are arguments and ordinary citizens would accept some of them. However, ordinary citizens would also accept that some things are better looked after by our own Parliament back in
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Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, does the Minister agree that there is a great deal of and a great variety of cross-border crime? If he does, does he also agree that it is important that the UK puts itself into a position where we have most influence and the greatest opportunity for leadership?
Lord Henley: My Lords, again I totally agree with my noble friend on that matter. But it means that we have to make very difficult decisions at the time about what is precisely in the United Kingdom's national interest. We will not make a decision on all 133 measures before that. There might be individual measures, as my noble friend will be aware, on which we might have to make a decision before then. But as a totality we will leave this to 2014.
Lord Dubs: Will the Minister confirm that the Government have no intention of opting out of the European arrest warrant, which, for all its faults, is still the best way to ensure that criminals-some of whom commit very serious offences, including terrorists -are brought to justice in this country?
Lord Henley: My Lords, the European arrest warrant was one of those matters agreed to before 2009. Therefore, it is covered by what we are discussing today. As I have said, we will make our decision at the appropriate time in 2014. It might be that we feel that in the national interest we do want to opt out of it; it might be that we do not. But I think that we will leave that to another day.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, of the 133 measures mentioned by the noble Lord, which were still outstanding before our opt-out last December, does he accept that the Government have already opted into eight of the most important? Can he therefore give the House an assurance that the Government will not opt into these measures one by one so that there is very little to opt out of when we come to the end of May 2014?
Lord Henley: My Lords, as I think I made clear, I do not want to go through all 133 measures at this stage. The House would not like it at Question Time and it would not be an appropriate use of the limited time I have. We will make appropriate decisions on some of them beforehand if it is appropriate but the larger number is a matter for 2014.
Lord Deben: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that there is more than one view on this side of the House and that the way in which we should discuss this should be as unemotional and as factual as possible, and that we do not help the argument by bringing what can only be called extreme views into the discussion?
Lord Henley: My Lords, to put it very simply, I agree with my noble friend that there is more than one view on this side of the House. There is possibly more than one view on the other side of the House and more than one view in all corners of the House. I agree with every aspect of what my noble friend has said.
The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): My Lords, bilateral discussions between the Government and the Welsh Government on all proposals arising from the Holtham commission, including funding reform, are continuing. To repeat what I have said on a number of previous occasions, as set out in the coalition programme for government, while the Government recognise concerns expressed over the Barnett formula, they believe that at this time the priority must remain the reduction of the deficit.
Lord Wigley: My Lords, is the Minister aware that in regard to the funding needed to maintain the level of public services in Wales up to the UK average, last year the Holtham report indicated an underfunding of some £400 million? Figures released yesterday indicate that by 2010-11, based on Treasury outcome figures, that had increased to an underfunding of £540 million. Is he further aware that when the Secretary for Wales addressed the National Assembly on 23 May, she said that,
Lord Sassoon: My Lords, first, on the numbers, which the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, quoted, when the Holtham commission reported to the Welsh Assembly in July 2010, it claimed that Wales had a £300 million funding shortfall. I do not recognise the new figure put out by Plaid Cymru yesterday but the point is that Wales has received nearly £500 million additional funding in the current spending review, SR10. In 2010-11, funding in Wales was running at some 15% above the level in England, so we need to keep the numbers in perspective. As I have said previously, yes, we recognise the significant issues that there are with the Barnett formula.
Lord Barnett: My Lords, as the noble Lord knows, a powerful Select Committee of this House unanimously recommended major reform, which would help not only Wales but every other part of the UK, particularly Scotland, where there needs to be reform. I gather that, subject of course to the Scottish people sensibly voting against separating from the UK in a referendum, the Government have in mind a major financial reform in Scotland, probably well before the time that the Minister has always mentioned. In those circumstances, would not then be a good time for Scotland to make that piece of essential reform?
Lord Sassoon: My Lords, we are straying a bit from Wales, but I am very happy to talk about Scotland. Of course, we recently passed through this House the new
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Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, the Minister said that his priority was to seek to reduce the deficit. Given that under the Barnett formula, which has not stood the test of time, Scotland is over-funded by £4 billion at the expense of English taxpayers, would that £4 billion not be a useful contribution to the deficit-or is the Minister so casual about our finances?
Lord Sassoon: No, my Lords, the Treasury is not remotely casual about the national finances, and what the noble Baroness says about the Scottish funding situation might well be challenged by others in other devolved parts of the nation.
Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords, it would not be challenged by me-and, indeed, the Select Committee came to that unanimous view. But what is the difficulty with finding an agreed needs-based formula for funding when the money that Scotland receives is distributed to health and local authorities using precisely a needs-based formula for funding? Surely it is time to deal with a matter that is creating division in the United Kingdom at a time when we need unity.
Lord Sassoon: My Lords, one difficulty is that there is no consensus on the appropriate way in which to measure needs for any replacement. As the previous Government said in response to the Select Committee report,
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): My Lords, tomorrow we have a Question on the behaviour of the House, and I would not want to use this as a bad example. We have time for one more Peer, and I think that it should be the noble Lord, Lord Richard.
Lord Richard: My Lords, I am obliged to the Leader of the House. The Minister says that there is no consensus in the United Kingdom about the Barnett formula, but there is a great deal of consensus that it does not operate fairly. The Select Committee was unanimous in that opinion, taking a great deal of evidence on it and coming to that conclusion. For the Minister to come along parroting, as he does every time the issue is raised, that we cannot do it now because of the deficit, is frankly unworthy of the subject. It is totally dismissive of the decision that the Select Committee took.
Is it not also true that there is a perfectly practical alternative to the existing Barnett formula to which the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, referred-a needs-based formula? The Select Committee was set up to look precisely at this issue, which it did, and now it is time that the Government did.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will publish the names and qualifications of all those who advised the Secretary of State for Education on the content of the recent curriculum review proposals for the teaching of primary school mathematics, science and English; and what international comparisons were used to inform the proposals.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): My Lords, the Government are happy to publish a list of those who were consulted to inform the development of the draft curriculum documents published on 11 June, and we will do so shortly. The review has drawn on a wide evidence base, including an analysis of the English, mathematics and science curricula of high-performing education jurisdictions, which was published on 19 December 2011. I will send the noble Baroness copies of both documents.
Baroness Jones of Whitchurch: I thank the Minister for that reply, particularly for offering to send me the specifics of the international comparisons on which the proposals have been made. However, is he concerned that three of the four members of the expert panel set up to advise the Government on the curriculum review are reported to be deeply unhappy with the proposals now announced by Michael Gove, which they describe as too narrow and overprescriptive? Is he also concerned about their allegation that the proposals are not drawn from the best available international evidence? Does not Michael Gove's throw-away response to these concerns in the Commons on Monday, when he said that,
Lord Hill of Oareford: First, a number of recommendations made by the expert panel were accepted by the Secretary of State. Secondly, although it is true that there were differences of opinion between some members of the expert panel, and between some of them and Ministers, a difference of opinion between Ministers and expert advisers is scarcely unheard of. However, Ministers ultimately have to take responsibility for their decisions. I think most of us in this House think that that is the way it should be. However, the key point of the proposals that the Government have brought forward is that we are trying to raise ambition and standards in our primary curriculum, particularly as a gap in attainment has opened up between the UK and other international jurisdictions and we are keen to try to narrow it.
Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, the reference to international comparisons reminds me that in foreign countries children often start learning languages at primary level, something in which the Secretary of State is very interested. Given the difficulties with the lack of teachers and the fact that many secondary schools have dozens of feeder primary schools, all of which might have taught a different language, will my noble friend the Minister look into language appreciation or language taster courses so that children get a foundation in foreign languages but do not study for too long a language which they may not be able to carry over to secondary level?
Lord Hill of Oareford: My Lords, as my noble friend will know, one of our proposals for the primary curriculum is to make the teaching of foreign languages compulsory at key stage 2. Those proposals are out for consultation. There is clearly an important question to be addressed about the quality of teachers and how to teach languages, because we have fewer than we need and there has been a drift away from modern languages in recent years. One of the things on which we will welcome views to the consultation over the next few months is how we can make sure that teachers have the support they need to ensure that languages can be taught at primary and secondary school.
Lord Quirk: Given the centrality of English in the whole of education, is the Minister aware that many in the profession are delighted with the steps taken to create a key stages 1 and 2 curriculum that meets our present and future needs? Can he therefore assure us that the Government will do their utmost to ensure the enthusiasm and competence of the teaching body to deliver this most promising curriculum?
Lord Hill of Oareford: My Lords, I am very aware of how important the whole issue of language development is to the noble Lord. I agree with him, and one of the things that we are seeking to emphasise in the new curriculum is the importance of the use of
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The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): My Lords, I am sorry to intervene again but we cannot have the noble Baroness and the noble Lord both trying to speak at the same time. One of them needs to decide who is going to give way. It looks as if the noble Lord, Lord Winston, has given way.
Baroness Billingham: Michael Gove's somewhat bizarre curriculum review has achieved the stunning result of uniting the whole teaching profession, most academics and even his own advisers against his proposals. Precisely how many hours of physical education will remain within the curriculum in all primary schools? Is it mandatory? I ask the Minister that question against the background of an Olympic legacy that we have promised to the nation. If we do not have sport in schools, the legacy will be in tatters.
Lord Hill of Oareford: I do not agree with the noble Baroness's basic premise on the nature of the response to the curriculum. As the noble Lord, Lord Quirk, has just demonstrated, many applaud what is in it, including many teachers who are already delivering such an approach. I agree that sport is important and it is remaining a compulsory part of the national curriculum. We will shortly publish the programmes of study that we propose will go alongside that requirement.
Lord Palmer: My Lords, bearing in mind the extremely heavy workload of the conscientious noble Lord, Lord Sewel, as Chairman of Committees, would it not make sense to appoint to this very important Committee a chairman who has first-hand catering experience?
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Sewel): Well, I do have some first-hand catering experience. I remember spending many hours happily working in various bars during my period as an undergraduate. The point is that at this stage, in my first year as Chairman of Committees, it is important that I have direct experience of the issues confronting all the domestic committees. After that has been achieved, which may take some time, the situation could well be reviewed-but not until then.
Clauses 1 to 3, Schedule 1, Clause 4, Schedule 2, Clause 5, Schedule 3, Clauses 6 to 10, Schedule 4, Clauses 11 to 13, Schedule 5 Clauses 14 to 20, Schedule 6, Clauses 21 to 27, Schedule 7, Clauses 28 to 32, Schedule 8, Clauses 33 and 34, Schedule 9, Clause 35, Schedule 10, Clause 36, Schedule 11, Clauses 37 and 38, Schedule 12, Clause 39, Schedule 13, Clauses 40 and 41, Schedule 14, Clause 42, Schedule 15, Clause 43, Schedule 16, Clauses 44 to 90, Schedule 17, Clauses 91 to 95, Schedules 18 and 19, Clauses 96 to 100, Schedules 20 and 21, Clauses 101 to 104.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): With your Lordships' permission, I should like to repeat a Statement made by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills in another place today.
Since I first addressed the House on this issue, the Government have initiated a broad, national debate about shareholder activism. This has encouraged shareholders to become more engaged as owners of their companies during the so-called 'shareholder spring'. We have also seen many companies engaging constructively in the face of this opposition. This is an important step for encouraging improved pay discipline.
As I said then, there is compelling evidence of a disconnect between pay and performance in large UK-listed companies. It is right that the Government act to address this clear market failure. Today, I can therefore announce a far-reaching package of reforms
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We will give shareholders new powers to hold companies to account on the structure and level of pay, and make it easier to understand what directors are earning and how this links to company strategy and performance. Shareholders will have a binding vote on a company's pay policy, including their approach to exit payments. Rather than being a one-off vote, for the first time this will be a real, lasting and binding control on pay. A company will be able to make payments only within the limits that have been approved by a majority of shareholders. This binding vote will happen annually unless companies choose to leave their pay policy unchanged, in which case the vote will happen at a minimum every three years. This will encourage companies to set out and stick to a clear, long-term pay strategy, and it will help to put a brake on the annual upward pay ratchet.
The policy should explain clearly how pay supports the strategic objectives of the company and include better information on how directors' pay relates to that of the wider workforce. This includes increased transparency on employee pay, including information that will show the difference between rises in directors' pay and those of the employees. Employee views on pay are important. That is why I am proposing that companies report on whether they have taken steps to seek the views of their workforce.
As part of their policy, companies will have to spell out their approach to exit payments. When a director leaves, the company must publish a statement explaining to shareholders exactly what payments the director has received. Companies will not be able to pay more than the shareholders agree.
Alongside the binding vote on policy, there will, as now, be an annual advisory vote on how the policy has been implemented, including all remuneration paid in the previous year. If a company fails the advisory vote, this will automatically trigger a binding vote on policy the following year. Both the binding and advisory votes should be as strong as possible to keep up pressure on companies. I therefore welcome the CBI's call for the Financial Reporting Council's corporate governance code to be updated to codify the current best practice that companies make a statement when a significant minority of shareholders vote against a pay resolution. This would publicly hold directors to account. Pay reports will be clearer and more transparent for investors. Companies will have to report a single figure of the total pay that directors received for the year, details of whether they met performance measures and a comparison between company performance and chief executive's pay.
The Government will bring forward amendments to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill shortly to introduce these reforms. In tandem, and as good policy-making requires, we will publish, for comment, revised and simplified regulations setting out what companies must report on directors' pay. Lasting reform is dependent on both business and investors maintaining this activism and developing and adopting good practice.
The best companies and investors are already leading the way and acting as early adopters of these reforms. We welcome the close engagement of institutional shareholders and their willingness to use their voting powers. We want this to be sustained and shall continue to monitor disclosure levels. Evidence suggests that more institutional investors are disclosing their voting records and that up to three-quarters of those investors are now disclosing their votes. We will consider further action if the number of investors volunteering to disclose their voting records does not continue to increase.
This is a strong package of reform. It builds on the United Kingdom's status as a global leader in corporate governance; it commands wide support from investors and business; and it addresses public concerns about directors' pay. These proposals restore a stronger, clearer link between pay and performance; reduce rewards for failure; promote better engagement between companies and shareholders; and, overall, empower shareholders to hold companies to account through binding votes. We look forward to discussing these proposals further with the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee on 28 June and in the Public Bill Committee that will consider the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill".
We supported this initiative, building as it does on work done by the previous Government in 2002. So, today, we are happy to confirm our support for much of what is in the Statement, including the binding shareholder vote on exit payments, the measures to simplify pay reports to increase transparency, and an annual advisory vote on how remuneration policy has been implemented in the previous year.
What has happened to the brave new world outlined by the Prime Minister in January and echoed by the Secretary of State in March? In March, an annual binding vote on future remuneration was one of the "main components" of the Secretary of State's plan to
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Secondly, the Government proposed to increase the majority required for the pay policy to be approved, but in the Statement the Government have reverted to a simple majority. We believe that they should have gone for a 75% threshold; as Dominic Rossi, the chief investment officer of Fidelity Worldwide Investment has said, such a threshold would ensure that companies consult widely with shareholders prior to a vote and give companies a clear mandate, and the need for a clear majority would also encourage all shareholders to express their views. Why did the Government not take heed of this advice?
"Over the last decade, directors' pay in the UK's largest listed companies has quadrupled with no clear link to company performance. Business leaders and investors now agree that this is a problem. Key stakeholders have spoken out in favour of action".
"The level of executive pay at the UK's largest companies has become unjustifiable over the last decade and it's right that the Government recognises that it is shareholders who have the power to control it",
I note that the Government are claiming credit for a growth in shareholder activism. Indeed, "success has many fathers". In the so-called shareholders' spring, shareholders have been flexing their muscles and exercising their current, albeit restricted, rights with some verve this year. That is very welcome. Change and reform must be shareholder led-it is they who own our businesses-and surely we in Parliament should do what we can to empower and encourage them as much as possible.
There is the whiff of a U-turn in the air. The Government have talked up what they were intending to do in this area, but in the event they have failed to deliver, as the final proposals are, to be frank, a bit limp. They are certainly not the strong package of reforms, but they could become that. As the Statement indicates, this is not the last chance we will have to discuss these topics. We look forward to debating the amendments to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which will give these proposals legislative effect in your Lordships' House in the not too distant future.
Baroness Wilcox: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, for his support for some of the things that we have done. Obviously he feels that we have not gone far enough, which is what I expected him to say. Of course, that allows me to say that in all the years that his Government were in power, they did not do any of this. Therefore, I hope that he will feel that we have at least made a decent start and will encourage us as much as he can.
I will answer some of his questions. We consulted extensively with business and investors. The Association of British Insurers today said that the package was practical and workable, and would help investors tackle excessive pay. I know Sir Roger Carr very well. I was on the board of Cadbury Schweppes with him, and we were also-I think-on the Audit Committee and the Remuneration Committee at the same time, so he and I have some history, and I am sure that we will agree over the years.
The noble Lord asked why we had gone for a binding vote and why we had changed the time period from three years. Shareholders will get a binding vote on a company's pay policy, as we said, including on exit payments. This binding vote will happen annually unless companies choose to leave their pay policy unchanged, in which case the vote will happen at least every three years. The idea on consultation was that it would encourage companies to set out long-term pay policies clearly linked to company strategy rather than short-term, one-year pay policies. We hope that it will put a brake on continuous upward pay ratchets. However, we will watch and see whether it succeeds.
On employee representation, we have acknowledged that employees' views on pay are important. That is why I proposed that companies should report on whether they have sought the views of the workforce. We will monitor this very carefully. As for employees on boards, nothing stops companies doing this already, but we are not saying that it should be enforced-we do not believe in mandating this across all firms. We hope that the things that we put forward today will
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Lord Razzall: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for introducing this important Statement. I have three questions. First, does she accept that the Statement applies almost entirely to companies owned and run with employees in the UK? What is her view on the large number of FTSE 100 companies that have shareholders and employees primarily outside the United Kingdom? The Statement says that there has been a broad national debate about shareholder activism. Has any consultation taken place with companies run from Kazakhstan or the United States that are UK FTSE 100 companies? How does she think these proposals will go down with them?
Secondly, I will touch on the question of exit payments that was raised by the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson. I support and understand the Government's position that they do not wish shareholders to have the right to veto the individual contracts of people who are taken on for employment, but I am not entirely sure that that should apply to exit payments. Contrasting the Statement in my left hand with the Explanatory Notes in my right, there seems to be a slight confusion. The Statement says that on exit payments, companies will not be able to pay more than shareholders agree. Will the Minister confirm that that is not exactly true? The proposal is that the company will say something like, "We will never pay more than two years' salary in an exit payment", or, "We will never pay more than the contractual entitlement of the employee", or, "We will reward performance but not lack of performance". Does the Minister agree that the Statement is slightly misleading in suggesting that shareholders have a right to veto exit payments?
The third point is slightly facetious, and the Minister may well have answered it already. As we know, her Secretary of State has been described in the Daily Telegraph by Mr Adrian Beecroft as a crypto-socialist. The criticism that the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, has made has probably proved that that is not the case. Will the Minister confirm that, as far as she is aware, the business community broadly welcomes these Statements and regard them as coming from a Secretary of State who is significantly pro-business?
Baroness Wilcox: In answer to my noble friend's first question, company law captures only UK companies. However, overseas companies must comply with the listing rules. We will work with the FSA to consider how the listing rules need to change in view of these reforms. I hope that is a helpful answer. In answer to his second question, companies will be able to make exit payments only within the envelope that shareholders have approved and it will be up to the shareholders to agree.
I cannot imagine that my Secretary of State was ever called a crypto-socialist by anybody-was he? I know that business very much welcomes what we are doing at the moment. Shareholders and business welcome it, and it is with them that we have been talking and negotiating to make sure that we can put this into the Bill that is coming up and that we can introduce secondary legislation so that we can get this moving as soon as possible. Everybody seems to agree that things must change.
Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, did the Minister hear the discussion on Radio 4 this morning in which one company chief executive reminded us of the fuss there was 10 years ago when the salary of the chief executive of British Gas reached £460,000? Is she surprised that, 10 years later, when FTSE chief executives have an average salary of 10 times that amount, this Statement smacks somewhat of closing the door after the horse has bolted? It is not sufficient just to deal with the present problem because the proposals that are being made build in the inequity that exists at the present time.
When the Minister talks about pay, precisely what is she talking about? Is she talking about total emoluments, of all sorts-pay, share options, shares, accommodation provided; the whole gamut, everything included-and will that be made absolutely transparent? Can she give us that assurance at least to make sure that there is no progress on the inequity?
Baroness Wilcox: I am very happy to reassure the noble Lord that we mean pay-all of it-and that is why we said in the Statement that there would be one figure. One figure means you do not have to work your way through myriad figures and arrangements, et cetera, so that it will be clear to everybody exactly what that person is getting.
I did hear the interview this morning. It was with two businessmen; one from a FTSE 100 company and the other one from a company that was never listed on the Stock Exchange. If you talk about closing the door, in the short time that we have been in government, we have now opened the door-a door that we feel should have been opened a lot longer ago, but we were not in government then.
Baroness Wilcox: My noble friend is right. We are very keen to make sure that shareholders feel that they are getting a fair deal. It is very useful for the very big shareholders to be able to get in and take on the companies for these pay arrangements. I have sat in FTSE 100 company meetings when the room is absolutely full of people who have only got a few shares. Up go all the hands for the vote and we add them up: 1,800 for, 246 against; and then of course we have the other votes that have come in, that are not in the room at the time: 45 million say this, and so on. So yes, the small shareholder will feel that he is in the room, and it is very important that we start to see the dividends grow, if we can, for small shareholders too. We want more shareholders. I thank my noble friend for the question.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, since the 1980s the multiple between the average earnings in FTSE 100 companies and the earnings of top executives has risen from about 29 times to at least 140 times. If we do not see any improvement in these differentials, they will prove dangerous to social cohesion, as has been widely seen across Europe. Will the Minister be reviewing measures to see if greater effect can be brought to bear?
Baroness Wilcox: The right reverend Prelate is right; one of the big worries is the great differential which has gradually opened up between the top pay and that of other employees in the company. As we said in the Statement and as I am happy to repeat now, we will be making sure that companies are looking at the increments and the pay rises that are happening at all levels. I know the right reverend Prelate was in business and it is very nice to have a Bishop in the place who knows something about business.
Lord Myners: My Lords, this is the minimum necessary response to a situation in which company directors seem to see their role as driving the cost of everything down except their own remuneration. This is not a strong Statement. The Minister is wrong to suggest the previous Government did nothing. They introduced the Companies Act 2002 which increased disclosure; they introduced obligations for institutional shareholders to publish their votes; they also promoted the Higgs and Walker reviews. So the Minister is simply wrong to say that the previous Government did nothing on this issue. Paragraph 7 of the Secretary of State's Statement shows that the Government's policy is both voluntary and binding. When I suggested that earlier this week, the noble Lord, Lord De Mauley, who is in his place, said that he could not envisage a situation which was both voluntary and binding.
However, to questions. First, the Minister says that these reforms will strengthen the hand of shareholders. Can she explain why shareholders could not have introduced these requirements themselves through amendments to the articles of association? I suggest that these reforms do not strengthen the hand of shareholders at all. They already had that power. Secondly, the right honourable Secretary of State said these proposals were introduced in the face of opposition. Can the Minister tell us the opposition to which the Secretary of State was referring in making that comment in paragraph 2 of the Statement? Finally, in her earlier answer the Minister said that employees already have powers to influence company remuneration. Can she tell us what these powers are?
Baroness Wilcox: We have engaged extensively with businesses and investors to come up with a robust, workable and enduring package that helps shareholders to sustain the increasing activism which we have seen.
Baroness Wilcox: I read that to make sure I was absolutely correct because the noble Lord has been quoting paragraph numbers. I would not like him to say that I had made a mistake or moved a comma. Perhaps he will forgive me on that.
It is a radical package. For the first time companies will be bound by a policy approved by shareholders. As to why shareholders did not do more and do it on their own, as the noble Lord knows very well, changing articles is complicated so we wish to help shareholders on their way. The noble Lord is shaking his head vigorously. He has been a Member of this House and has sat on the Labour Benches a long time. He has also been a Minister. During all that time none of this, no matter how frail or small it seems to him now, was done by his party or by him when he was sitting in this position. Let us be clear; one year ago there was not the same level of recognition on the issue of pay. Now business accepts that there is an issue and has been very good in coming forward to have the conversations with us.
Lord Renton of Mount Harry: My Lords, I for one on these Benches was very pleased to hear the Secretary of State's announcement today. The noble Lord, Lord Myners, had a point when he said that shareholders can already veto executive pay. One of problems is that many shareholders are directors themselves and therefore have some considerable interest in seeing that salaries are up there rather than down there. It would be very helpful if it were possible to use the ordinary employees of a company more widely as a blanket on what is finally resolved. The Government should consider how employees who are not at the top of the pay scale can be brought more into the picture. I take it that what is being suggested today applies not just to directors but to executives as well. An executive is not necessarily the chief executive. What he or she is earning will also come under close survey.
Baroness Wilcox: The answer to my noble friend's last assumption is yes. When it comes to employees getting their voices heard, we encourage them to make more use of the tools that they already have, and to which I have already referred, in airing their views on pay, for example. Existing information and consultation arrangements are a potentially powerful mechanism for employees and have been underutilised to date. We will now watch carefully what companies say in directors' remuneration reports about whether employees' views have been sought. I agree with my noble friend that we need to hear the views of employees. We want boards to encourage them to use the mechanisms available to them so that we can hear more of what they say.
Lord Haskel: Does the Minister agree that this is another small and welcome step towards implementing a long-term stewardship code? It is a journey which the previous Government started and which I hope this Government will continue. The Minister spoke about institutional investors, pension funds, insurance companies, active shareholders, savers and investors, all of whom will of course take an interest. However, we are told that these are a minority of shareholders. We are told that short-term traders, overseas investors with different objectives, private equity, hedge funds and those who borrow shares are now in the majority. Will they simply not bother to vote and so render this scheme useless?
Baroness Wilcox: Gosh, that is dreary. Private equity is something else again. We have promoted long-term stewardship and continue to do so today. I would not
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Lord Tugendhat: My Lords, I congratulate the Minister on the robustness of this Statement. I was disappointed when there was nothing in the gracious Speech on this subject but what she has announced today was well worth waiting for. I cannot help feeling that some of the contributions from the party opposite are redolent of foxes being shot. This makes a very important start on what is an important issue and I congratulate the Secretary of State and the Minister in this House on this Statement.
Baroness Wilcox: I thank my noble friend very much indeed. I am very glad that somebody thinks we have done the right thing today. I hope we will keep it up and that he will continue to be pleased with us.
Lord McFall of Alcluith: The Minister, as a former non-executive director, is very much aware that the business model is the key to understanding companies, both in good and bad times. More than anything, it is the professionals-the auditors-who understand the business model. Will the Minister ensure that the Government mandate auditors to talk to shareholders, so that they begin to understand the company? If they do, they can then request a seat on the remuneration committee, along with other stakeholders such as employees, so that we blow open the cartel that is at present called the remuneration committee.
Baroness Wilcox: I assume the noble Lord is talking about outside auditors, not the internal audit committee. I do not have an answer for him immediately but I will certainly go back and find out what we are thinking in respect of auditors. I think I have an Oral Question next week on auditors so that might be worth listening to. I apologise that I cannot answer that right now.
Lord Roberts of Conwy: Will my noble friend the Minister confirm that the substance of this Statement will reappear in the form of clauses or amendments to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, so we shall all have a further opportunity to examine the various issues?
Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, this is one of a number of amendments that we have put forward regarding the framework document. Although we do not have a copy of it, a number of questions still need to be addressed.
The Government are getting a bit of a reputation for having a cavalier attitude to the reform of some of the institutions of this country and for bringing forward legislation before the fine details have been worked out, which would enable this House properly to scrutinise the Bill and its implications. The Health and Social Care Bill saw quite an axe being taken to the whole landscape of the NHS before the details were worked out, which started even before parliamentary approval had been obtained. The detail was not ready when the Welfare Reform Bill came before Parliament. With this Bill, not only do we not have the framework document but the Government are still consulting on the plans for community sentencing. We hope that we can recommit the Bill into Committee at the end of the Committee stage and, outside the normal order of amendments and clauses, put another new Clause 23 into the Bill at the end.
The Government announced their intention to create a National Crime Agency around two years ago but we still do not have the document that tells us what the organisation will do and how it will do it. That document will set out the detail of how the agency will be arranged. It is clear that there will be specific operations. One of the most important things in that document will be the relationship with other sections of the police service. Unfortunately, we do not have the strategic policing requirement. The Government say that that will set out a clear framework for how PCCs and chief constables relate to the NCA and, crucially, how they balance local against national priorities.
Looking around your Lordships' House, I see that I am a relatively new Member of this fine institution-for just under two years-but it has been clear to me from when I first entered your Lordships' House how seriously the House takes its scrutiny role. Not to have so much information to assist us in discussing the detail of the Bill is pretty shoddy and not the way that we ought to legislate.
Even in this Bill, I am prepared to think the best of the Government and assume that they must have worked out some of the detail of the architecture, even if the document itself is not ready. I do not believe for one moment that the Government came to this House with a Bill not understanding what it will look like at the end when they create a new agency. It would be helpful if, even without the document, the Minister could give the House more detail about what it will contain. Amendments 28 and 29 place a requirement on the Secretary of State to produce the framework document by statutory instrument. That is not ideal, because having that document now would inform the rest of our discussion, as several noble Lords have said. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, at our previous session in Committee, raised issues that should be in the document. Our discussion then was hampered because we did not have it. In the absence of the document being available for scrutiny at this stage, the Home Secretary should place the document before Parliament as an order. That will enable at least some proper scrutiny by both Houses.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I did indeed raise questions about the contents of the framework document. Before we started our debate on Monday, when I was going through the amendments and got to this pair of amendments, I put a tick against them. I have deleted the tick for reasons which will not be very welcome to my noble friend. I am not convinced that an order would allow us to debate the framework document in the way that we would like to see. We need a lot of detail about it. As we all know, the drawback with an order is that we cannot amend it. Methods of operation, methods of exercising functions and administration, including-I have already questioned this-governance and finance, are very big issues.
I therefore hope that the Minister will, if not today, soon be able to tell us that his "due course"-not just his, I am not impugning him-arrives soon, so that we can understand a good deal more. Although I well understand the approach that the noble Baroness has taken, I am not entirely sure that it takes us as far as many of us would like to go.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): My Lords, I understand what the noble Baroness is getting at and how she wants to provide for the framework document to be subject to some parliamentary procedure -for it to be laid before Parliament. She went on almost to suggest that there was some conspiracy by the Government on this Bill and others in the lack of framework documents and how late they were coming. I think I made it quite clear back on Monday-it seems a long time ago now, having gone through another Bill, as the noble Baroness and I and the
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Perhaps I may set out what the framework document is designed to do and what we think ought to be in it. The purpose of the document is to set out clearly and transparently how the Home Secretary and the director-general will work together-it is between those two-and the ways in which the NCA is to be administered. It is expected to include the agency's corporate governance arrangements, the high-level arrangements for financial accounting and reporting, and how the agency will discharge its duty to publish information and promote transparency, including the classes of information which it will publish. It will obviously be a very important document, dealing with how the NCA is to operate, but it will also build on and be clearly subsidiary to the clear foundations set out in the Bill. As we have already debated, the Bill establishes a clear governance model for the NCA; namely, as a Crown body with an operationally independent director-general at its head, appointed by and accountable to the Home Secretary for delivery against the Home Secretary's strategic priorities for the agency. The agency will be under the direction and control of the director-general and its functions and powers are, again, clearly set out in the Bill.
We have provided in Schedule 2 for the framework document to be laid before Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly, as the NCA will cover all parts of the United Kingdom. We believe that, given the nature of the document, this is the appropriate level of parliamentary procedure. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee made no comment on these provisions so, on that basis, we are on relatively firm ground in assuming that it was content with laying that procedure. Finally, as I think I suggested earlier, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 did not even provide for a framework document, let alone one subject to an affirmative procedure, so this provision is an important advance on what has gone before in relation to the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
I appreciate that the noble Baroness would like it to be produced by statutory instrument and produced, as I think my noble friend put it, in due course. I came under a suggestion of pressure that I ought to define what "due course" meant. It is always difficult to define that. I am sure that the noble Baroness will probably remember promising things, when she was a Minister, "some time in the future", "in due course" or whatever. We have all done this-I remember promising something "later in the spring" and being faintly
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Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, I appreciate that the Minister is trying to be helpful, but that was an extremely unsatisfactory answer. I hope I misunderstood him when he said that he hopes to have an outline of the framework document by Report. I think he misunderstands the point that I am trying to make. I am not merely making the point that we want the document to have parliamentary scrutiny, important though that is, but that the framework document will inform our debate on the rest of the Bill. Not having it hampers our debates and our ability to scrutinise. This is not an isolated point about parliamentary scrutiny. Had we had the document here now, as we should have, our discussions on other aspects of the Bill would be easier and better informed because it seems to me that a lot of the information that the framework document contains is relevant to the discussions we are having. I hope the Minister understands the point I am making.
I take on board the comment by the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, about an order being inadequate. I entirely agree with her, but I think that anything that we are able to do at this stage is wholly inadequate because we want to have the document with us now. It is not good enough for the Minister to say that we will have an outline for Report. I do not think that we can pray in aid that this is an early stage of the proceedings and that the Bill is going to go to the House of Commons. This House has a duty to do its job, which is to scrutinise legislation. It is being hampered in doing so by not having the documents. The fact that they will be available to the House of Commons is not enough. I appreciate that the Minister has tried to be helpful, but he has not satisfied me on this point. I shall not press this matter to a vote today, but the Minister will recognise that there is unease around the House, not just on our Benches, on this point.
Lord Henley: I appreciate that the noble Baroness feels that it is important that there should be an order. Should we accept her amendment and have an order, it would not produce the framework document, or even an outline, any earlier. I am saying that we will get that outline during the passage of the Bill. If the noble Baroness were purely to rely on her amendment, she would not get it until after the Bill. That is my understanding of how her amendment works. I have given her an assurance from the Dispatch Box that we will get an outline by Report that will assist our discussions later on. I hope that is hopeful to the noble
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Baroness Smith of Basildon: Again, I think the Minister is trying very hard to be helpful. I think I said that any proposal we put forward at this stage is inadequate. I withdraw the amendment at this stage, but this is a subject to which we will be returning.
Baroness Smith of Basildon: We return to the framework document. This paragraph is a puzzle to me. This brief amendment deletes the requirement for the Secretary of State to obtain the consent of the director-general before issuing the framework document, because I am unclear why the Secretary of State would need to depend on the consent of the director-general in order to publish the document. It would seem to show greater courtesy and concern for the views of the director-general than for Parliament. There is no provision for parliamentary oversight at this stage. It is right and appropriate that the Home Secretary should consult the director-general, but if I understand the purpose of the framework document correctly, looking at Schedule 2, it is ultimately about the detail of the architecture of the National Crime Agency. It is not about operational matters, and it does not seem appropriate for the director-general to have a veto. I return to the point I made in earlier discussions about the blurring of the line between what is operational and what is strategic. The framework document is a strategic document. This is a probing amendment to see whether the Minister can explain why the director-general should have a veto over the Secretary of State publishing the framework document. I beg to move.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I am glad that the noble Baroness tabled this amendment. It took me back to reading the paragraph and realising that I did not fully understand it. I am sorry that I have not been able to give the Minister notice of my question, which is: can he in some way translate paragraph 4, particularly sub-paragraph (2)? Does it mean that the framework document takes precedence over the annual plan? Paragraph 4(2) says:
Those functions are about being consulted on, and giving or withholding consent to, the framework document. It is a little difficult to understand how the two work together. It may be that we are being told that one is more important, or simply that one is more overarching-which the framework document should be, I guess-than the other. The relationship between the two will obviously be important and not only because there are different consents and consultation arrangements for the different items.
Lord Henley: My Lords, I will deal first with the various points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, and then move on to the rather more complicated question about paragraph 4(2) of Schedule 2 and its relationship to sub-paragraph (1), as raised by my noble friend who, as always, bowls googlies of a sort that are designed to get behind one.
The amendment of the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, would remove the requirement for the Home Secretary to obtain the consent of the director-general of the NCA before issuing the framework document. I am faintly unclear as to why she seeks to remove this provision. Does she want that framework document imposed on the director-general? That is what would happen under the amendment-there would no longer be that consultation. As I have indicated, the framework document will set out the relationship between the Home Secretary-
Baroness Smith of Basildon: I apologise for intervening. The noble Lord said that my amendment would result in there being no consultation. I am not trying to prevent consultation. Paragraph 4(1)(a) says:
I am entirely happy with that; it is completely appropriate. It is the reference in paragraph 4(1)(b) to obtaining the consent of the director-general that I am concerned about. I am sorry if I was not clear.
Lord Henley: Therefore, there would still be consultation but there would be no need for consent. However, as I said, that would imply that the Home Secretary could impose that on the director-general. We believe that the document is designed to set out the relationship between the Home Secretary and the director-general and, as I said on an earlier amendment, how the NCA will operate, including its governance, management and transparency arrangements. Therefore, the director-general will have a proper interest in making sure that it reflects his or her operational view of the NCA. Since the director-general will ultimately be accountable to the Home Secretary for delivering the NCA's priorities, it is absolutely right that his consent should be gained to crucial decisions about how the agency is administered. It is right that we should stick to that process. I hope that the noble Baroness will agree that the framework document should be agreed between the two, with both consultation and consent.
The important idea to get over is that the framework document and the annual plan are different and have to be dealt with in different ways. The framework
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Baroness Hamwee: It was not a smirk but possibly mild hysteria. The Minister has confirmed that, to the extent that the two documents have any relationship to one another, the framework document is the primary document. He is nodding at that. I apologise because my point was not intended to be a googly. Anyone who knows me will know that the high point of my sporting career at school was questions such as, "Sally dear, can you see the ball?". I really am not trying to be difficult. I am grateful to the Minister. I will read it again several times.
Lord Henley: From my noble friend's confession, I think that her sporting career at school was possibly somewhat similar to mine in terms of its disastrous nature but I shall leave that as another matter. I am grateful for her acceptance. I think I got that right and that I have satisfied the point that she makes. Therefore, I await to see whether the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, wants to withdraw her amendment.
I remain puzzled on this matter. The Minister has said several times that the framework document sets out the relationship between the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State and the director-general. But nowhere in schedule does it say that about the framework document. In part, our discussions are hampered by not having the document, which we look forward to seeing in due course.
The Minister made the point about the relationship between the framework document and the annual plan and how the framework document came first. However, it might not always come first because, under paragraph 2 of Schedule 2, the Home Secretary can reissue a framework document at any time, in which case the annual plan may already exist when a new framework document is published. It could get even more confusing. I shall take this away and ponder, as I think the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, will equally do.
I still do not accept that it is appropriate for the Secretary of State to seek consent. Consultation, if it is genuine and takes note and not just an exercise for the sake of it, would be the adequate and proportionate way forward. But I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Baroness Hamwee: In moving Amendment 32, I shall speak also to Amendment 33. The first deals with the framework document and the second with the annual report. In both cases, my amendments would delete the words relating to publication,
I wondered whether those were intended to be qualifying words. They clearly are qualifying, but they suggest a limitation. I simply look for assurances that the spirit of what we would all understand by "publication" includes something energetic and proactive and that that will be reflected in the practical arrangements that will be made. So this is really only a probing amendment in both cases. I beg to move.
Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, I had some interest in the amendment that the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, has proposed. There is some question mark over why there is discretion in this regard, and it would be helpful to hear from the Minister on that. The Minister will understand my concern that there is a growing acceptance these days that everybody has access to the internet and that everything can be obtained from the internet. A large number of people in our population do not have access to the internet. More than that, as the Minister knows, the Home Office website is extraordinarily difficult to access. So I would have great reluctance in seeing a measure go through that gives discretion to the Home Secretary to publish on a website that most people cannot access most of the time.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, the Government are committed to publishing the NCA framework document and annual report so that all those with an interest in the work of the agency have ready access to them. That is indeed the spirit intended. The provisions on publication in Schedule 2 are directed to that end. I assure my noble friend that there is nothing sinister in the words,
They are just a recognition of the fact that it must be for the Home Secretary and the director-general, as the publishers of the framework document and annual report respectively, to determine how best to publish these documents. It is only sensible that the person publishing the document should be empowered to choose the most appropriate means of doing so.
We would expect that, in practice, both documents will most likely be released via the NCA or Home Office website. My noble friend Lord Henley says that he will shortly be writing to the noble Baroness on problems with that website. Whether it is a good use of resources also to print and publish thousands of hard copies of these documents must be left to the judgment of the Home Office or the director-general, as the case may be.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I shall certainly do so, but I have two comments. First, I thank the Minister for confirming the point about the spirit, which I am glad to have confirmed from the Dispatch Box. On another more general point, each Bill seems to be thicker than the last. A few years ago, it would have been adequate to say, "The Secretary of State shall publish a document". Now we have to say, "The Secretary of State shall publish a document in the manner in which she deems to be appropriate". The officials will understand why we probe some of these words more often than just from time to time.
Lord Hunt of Chesterton: I was a civil servant in the Met Office and used to visit other agencies. The variability in the publication of annual reports is quite extraordinary. A Minister visited the National Physical Laboratory and asked, "Why do you publish all these annual reports?". I am glad to say that the Met Office continues to publish annual reports and they are still very valuable and people refer to them. Therefore, I was very surprised by the Minister's insouciant response to this whole issue of the publication of reports. As the noble Baroness said, the relevant information is very unsatisfactory. Are the Government looking into this more broadly?
Earl Attlee: My Lords, in days of old there was only one way of publishing a report, which was in hard copy. Today we can publish on the internet. We can also issue a CD and issue hard copy on a limited circulation. The provisions in the Bill take account of the various ways of releasing the information without being too prescriptive.
Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I do not think that I should take the time of the Committee by pursuing the issue but I suspect that the same question will come up more than once during the rest of this Session, as it comes up on almost every Bill. I am grateful to the Minister and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Rosser: My Lords, the two paragraphs of Clause 5 to which these amendments relate provide for a chief officer of a UK police force or a UK law enforcement agency to perform a task if the director-general of the National Crime Agency requests, and for the director-general of the National Crime Agency to perform a task if requested to do so by a chief officer of a UK police force or a UK law enforcement agency. In respect of the references in the two paragraphs in question to,
there is no reference to any requirement at all for the elected police and crime commissioner for that police force to be consulted by the person requesting that a task be performed, whether it be the director-general of the National Crime Agency or the chief officer of the commissioner's own police force. So far there has been no explanation of or justification for this omission despite the fact that under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 a police and crime commissioner for a police area has a statutory duty to secure the maintenance of the police force for their area, ensure that the police force is efficient and effective and hold the chief constable to account for a wide range of duties and responsibilities, including the effectiveness and efficiency of the chief constable's arrangements for co-operating with other persons in the exercise of the chief constable's functions.
The police and crime commissioner will also be responsible for issuing a police and crime plan, which is a plan that is required by law to set out a number of matters, including the policing of the police area which the chief officer of police is to provide. Yet it would appear as though it is possible under the terms of the Bill for the director-general of the National Crime Agency to come to an agreement with the chief officer of a UK police force for that chief officer to perform a task on behalf of the director-general, and a task of unspecified magnitude, scope or significance in relation to resources or impact; or, alternatively, for the director-general of the National Crime Agency to perform a task on behalf of the chief officer of a UK police force-once again, of unspecified magnitude, scope or significance-without any apparent duty in either case to consult the elected police and crime commissioner despite the significant statutory responsibilities the police and crime commissioner has in relation to their police force. If the director-general of the National Crime Agency was requesting the chief officer of a UK police force to carry out a task which could well have an impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the police force in question, or on the ability to deliver or adhere to the police and crime plan, one would have thought that it was a matter on which the director-general of the National Crime Agency should be required to consult the police and crime commissioner.
Likewise, if the chief officer of a UK police force found it necessary to request the director-general of the National Crime Agency to perform a task on behalf, or in support, of that police force, there should be duty on the chief officer to consult the police and crime commissioner, who might want to satisfy himself or herself that this was not a task that their own police force should be competent and capable of performing and that the request to the director-general was not in
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I will obviously await the Minister's response to all the points that I have made. I suspect he is not going to say that I have drawn attention to gaps in the Bill that the Government now intend to address. However, I wait to see whether the argument will be that responding to requests referred to in Clause 5 is, for some reason, nothing whatever to do with the elected police and crime commissioner, or whether the Minister is going to say either that there are other provisions in the Bill that would require the police and crime commissioner to be consulted-or his or her consent sought-or that there are provisions in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 that would require the commissioner to be consulted, or his or her consent sought, such as in paragraph 7 of Schedule 2 to that Act, which states:
Alternatively, perhaps the Minister is going to say in response that the points I have raised will be covered in the elusive framework document that he has so far been unable to produce. I await his response. I beg to move.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: These amendments concern something I raised at Second Reading-the relationship between the National Crime Agency, the police commissioner and the chief constable of a police force. I still do not understand just how that is to be worked out. We tabled amendments suggesting a protocol, which we dealt with in Committee on Monday, and learnt that a protocol is something to be discussed as an operational matter once the Bill is in force. Does the police commissioner come anywhere within the architecture of the Bill, or is the commissioner in an outhouse? I just do not understand where he is.
Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, it is not very often that I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford; in fact, I try to make it a general principle to disagree with him. However, on this occasion he has put his finger on an extraordinary gap in the Bill, and I can only assume that Home Office Ministers do not have the courage of their convictions.
We spent many happy months debating the principle of electing police and crime commissioners and we were told what significant individuals they were going to be. They were going to hold to account the chief constable and police service for all that went on in their area. Now, under the arrangements in this Bill the director-general of the National Crime Agency can say to any chief constable, "I would like the following resource from you dedicated to a particular operation", but there is no requirement at all to inform the elected police and crime commissioner about that. Surely at the very least there should be a recognition that the police and crime commissioner might consider this matter important.
I am not a candidate to be a police and crime commissioner, but if I were in some remote part of the country outside London and had run on an election campaign saying that I wanted to see the police of my county devoted to the rural villages, the town centres or whatever, and I then discovered that behind my back the director-general of the National Crime Agency had said to my chief constable, "We've got to have this chunk of your resources and use them for a particular operation", I would find it extraordinary that I had not even been told that that was happening and that my position as the directly elected police and crime commissioner, with a remit from the people of my area, was being undermined. I assume that this is an error in the drafting of the Bill.
I thought that my noble friend Lord Rosser was extraordinarily generous to the government Front Bench in offering two or three arguments as to why these amendments might not be necessary. However, unless the Minister is prepared to stand up and say, "Yes, of course, this was a drafting error. We did intend that police and crime commissioners would be informed", the Government will be undermining what was apparently a flagship policy for this Administration.
Why might such a provision not be included in the Bill? The suggestion that this is a potentially trivial and merely operational matter that should not worry the police and crime commissioner is, frankly, nonsense. These are precisely the sorts of issues that will exercise local communities. Some of your Lordships may remember that at the time of the riots and disturbances last August one chief constable, quite properly, responded to a request to send a substantial number of police officers to London in support of ensuring that the streets were under control only to find that there were then disturbances in his own patch. He was then subject to all sorts of criticisms for having agreed to release those officers. What would the position be in very similar circumstances, although perhaps not a visible riot, in which the director-general of the National Crime Agency requested the movement of police officers for a particular operation and that then left the force concerned short? The police and crime commissioner would have to justify that this had been allowed to happen, even though he had not been informed in advance that such a request had been made. What would happen if the police and crime commissioner took a different view from that of the chief constable about whether this request was reasonable or justifiable? This is not an ordinary operational decision by the chief constable. The chief constable is not deciding
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So what is the justification for not having these provisions in the Bill? I hope that the Minister will tell us that he will adopt the amendments of the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, and incorporate them in the Bill, if not today, on Report. If he is not prepared to say that, I hope that he will give us a real explanation and reaffirm that, as far as the Home Office is concerned, the police and crime commissioners really matter, otherwise we spent three or four months in this Chamber debating the police and crime commissioners for no purpose whatever. They will be elected officials with no significant function.
Lord Henley: My Lords, I wish to say how sad I am that the noble Lord, Lord Harris, will not be a candidate for a PCC. We understand that there is already a PCC for London and the noble Lord would have to move out of his own city in order to stand as a candidate. He might want to consider that in due course and I am sure that he would make a very fine PCC, should he wish to do so.
Sadly, I was not involved in what the noble Lord referred to as those happy months debating the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act. I was then involved with another department but I was very grateful to my noble friends for the way in which they took that Bill through and discussed those matters.
The points put forward by the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Harris, and my noble friend Lord Thomas seem to imply a misunderstanding of the role of the PCCs and seem to suggest that PCCs should be involved in operational matters. I hope that I can explain why that will not be the case.
First, I shall speak about the policing protocol which was mentioned and which, I stress, has already been laid before Parliament. It outlines how the new policing governance arrangements established in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act will work and it clarifies the roles and responsibilities of police and crime commissioners, the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime in London, chief constables, police and crime panels and the London Assembly Police and Crime Panel. It outlines what those bodies are expected to do and how they are expected to work together to fight crime and to improve policing. It also underlines the Home Secretary's role as being ultimately accountable to Parliament and charged with ensuring the maintenance of the Queen's peace with all force areas, safeguarding the public and protecting our national borders and security.
I do not think that directed tasking by the director-general in anyway undermines the police and crime commissioners in fighting serious and organised crime. It is a shared concern for the NCA and the PCCs. The tasking to the NCA from a police force in England and Wales would be used to fight cross-boundary serious and organised crime which police forces and PCCs must already have regard to in strategic policing requirements.
I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, was right to draw attention to those voluntary tasking arrangements between the NCA, all United Kingdom police forces and other enforcement bodies. Those two-way tasking provisions closely reflect the operational reality of how police forces and law enforcement agencies already work together and are the central, but co-ordinating, efforts against serious and organised crime.
I want to emphasise to the noble Lord that the NCA will have a key relationship with the PCC in the fight against serious and organised crime. For example, police and crime commissioners will be consulted when the agency determines its strategic priorities and an annual plan respectively.
However, the tasking-I emphasise that word-of police forces by the agency and the tasking of the agency by chief constables are operational matters, where command and control of an operation is transferred to the organisation being tasked. Given the operational nature of tasking, I am certainly not persuaded of the case for the consultation and notification requirements set out in Amendments 34 and 35 tabled by the noble Lord for debate today.
Placing a duty on the director-general of the National Crime Agency to consult the relevant PCC before entering into a voluntary tasking arrangement risks blurring the line between operational independence and political accountability.
Moreover, imposing such a duty could disrupt a time-critical operation. For example, the director-general of the agency may need to task a specific police force to take the lead on a time-sensitive interdiction, such as a stop, arrest or search, in a long-running operation. Although a duty to notify, as provided for in Amendment 35, is less objectionable, again I remain to be persuaded of the case for including this in the Bill for the same reasons. As I have previously outlined, tasking arrangements ought properly to be left to an operational determination rather than imposing a uniform obligation of notification in England and Wales, irrespective of the nature of the tasking request.
Tasking of the National Crime Agency may also need to take place in time-critical situations. For example, a chief constable may request the director-general of the agency urgently to take the lead on activity where a resident in their police area has been kidnapped and their location is unknown in the United Kingdom. Under such circumstances, there may be operational consequences if executive action were to be delayed because the relevant PCC could not be contacted or notified in time-the individual may not have been available, had their mobile turned off, or whatever. A whole host of reasons might have made that difficult.
That is not to say that a PCC would not be notified of a tasking request by their chief constable. I would expect that a chief constable would notify their PCC as soon as it was feasible, practical and sensible to do so, if not beforehand. But formal, statutory notification prior to every tasking request would not be appropriate.
I trust that the party opposite is as committed as are the Government to protecting the operational independence of the director-general of the agency and chief constables, and to ensuring that swift action can be taken during time-critical operations. On that basis, I hope that those explanations deal with the points that the noble Lord raised, and having listened to what I had to say, he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, I am slightly confused by the response from the noble Lord, Lord Henley. He implied that this group of amendments is designed to undermine the operational independence of the chief constable. But this is not about an operational decision. This is not saying that the police and crime commissioner must approve. It is simply saying that before making a request to use the resources that are properly the responsibility of that police and crime commissioner -the resources for which that police and crime commissioner is answerable to the public and the police and crime panel and so forth-as a minimum, the police and crime commissioner should be informed. This is not saying that the police and crime commissioner will then interfere in the operational judgment of the chief constable as to whether those resources can be released and what the implications of that are. Let us not pretend that this is not potentially hugely significant. As my noble friend Lord Rosser pointed out, there is nothing that prescribes the size or scale of these requests, so they could be enormously significant.
The decision about who is tasked and what the targets of a particular operation are is obviously an operational decision, but if officers are being used for this purpose, there is an expectation that the police force for that area will retain a liability for what they do and the community consequences of what may happen. These are all matters that are properly the province of the police and crime commissioner, because the police and crime commissioner will have to answer publicly for the consequences of what happens, as well as for the opportunity costs that have arisen as a result of that diversion of resources. Those are the proper areas for the police and crime commissioner. This is not about individual operational decisions; it is about the use of resources and the implications of using resources in that way.
If the noble Lord's argument for rejecting these amendments is simply about urgent requests, I suggest a very simple wording change such as "except in cases of urgency", in which case the requests should be notified immediately afterwards, but that is not what he said. The whole premise of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act is that the elected police and crime commissioner will be answerable to the public for what happens in policing in their area. That was the principle in the Conservative Party manifesto regarding why these individuals should be elected. By apparently wanting to reject these amendments, the Government are undermining this principle.
I have to say that this feeds my own personal conspiracy theory that the Government have gone soft on the whole question of police and crime commissioners: that having taken us through all this legislative and
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Lord Henley: The noble Lord protests too much. I will not go back to the various remarks he made about the police and crime commissioners. That is an argument that we had in another place-dare I say it, in another country-a long time ago. It has been dealt with. That is what Parliament has agreed.
Lord Henley: No, no, the noble Lord can intervene after I have dealt with the points about his amendment. The noble Lord objects to what is happening, and apparently supports Amendments 34 and 35. Interestingly, he did not put his name down to them, but that is possibly why he made a speech of that sort-because he knows that the amendments go too far. He knows perfectly well that the amendments say "must", which is why I talked about time-sensitive problems and said that it was not appropriate that the director-general "must" always consult the police and crime commissioner or, in Amendment 35, that,
We all welcome the chance to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, yet again making one of the speeches that he no doubt made during the passage of the Bill, which sadly I was not able to take part in but which my noble friend dealt with so well. I hope that my explanation of why the word "must" is not appropriate in Amendments 34 and 35 is satisfactory and that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, will feel able to withdraw his amendment, as I suggested earlier.
Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, I hesitate to correct the Minister, but if he checks back on the speeches I made during the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill when it was being considered in your Lordships' House, he will see that I was not a particular supporter of the concept of police and crime commissioners. What I am doing today is fighting on their behalf for them to be given the information to enable them to do their job. They should be allowed to be the police and crime commissioners that the Conservative Party envisaged when it put this measure before Parliament.
If we are now being told that the only reason for rejecting this amendment is the word "must" because of the implications of urgency, as I said in my previous
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Lord Henley: My Lords, I am always happy to look at further amendments to amendments. Similarly, I am happy to think that one of the things I could do in the long summer months when the Olympics are on is read some of the noble Lord's speeches on police and crime commissioners. Those will no doubt provide me with a great deal of pleasure and possibly put me to sleep. They will be great speeches and I will read them just as I will listen to the noble Lord.
What the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, does with his amendments is a matter for him. I was responding to the specific amendments that were put before me. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, can add his name, if he wishes, to the amendments that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, might bring forward in due course.
Lord Rosser: My Lords, this has certainly been an interesting debate. It seems to have created a certain amount of disagreement and passion. I think I heard the Minister say that my amendments would call into question the operational independence of chief constables. I find that rather odd coming from the government Front Bench since the reason for our opposition to police and crime commissioners in the first place was that that was one of the things that it would cause, so to have it thrown at us that we are putting forward amendments that would put at risk the operational independence of chief constables frankly seems a bit rich.
As my noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey said, it is not clear whether the Government's principal argument is the use of the word "must" in the amendments. The Minister has said that if there had to be consultation with the police and crime commissioner, that would cause delay, and it might be an emergency. However, am I not right in saying that if the director-general approached a chief constable for a voluntary agreement and could not get it, the director-general would then have to go to the Secretary of State to get a direction authorised? Future amendments will tease out whether that is the case, but if it is, that would certainly cause a delay, which is apparently of concern to the Minister.
If there were provision for consultation with the police and crime commissioner, it might help the situation-although I do not think that this has occurred to the Minister-in that the police and crime commissioner might step in if there was any doubt or difficulty over the chief constable coming to a voluntary arrangement with the director-general.
I mentioned that there could be reasons why the police and crime commissioner might want to know, or why there should at least be a requirement for the police and crime commissioner to be consulted, if the chief constable wanted the director-general of the National Crime Agency to perform a task on their behalf, because there could be a difference of view with the police and crime commissioner about whether
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My noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey pointed out that if the difficulty is the use of "must", one could produce wording that made it clear that if there were difficulties over time constraints, that requirement would not be there. I got the impression that when my noble friend put that point directly to him, the Minister rather backed off from the argument that there might not be time to consult a police and crime commissioner.
The whole basis of the Government's approach appears to be as it was during consideration of the 2011 Bill, now an Act: that is, a belief that there is some clear guideline distinguishing what is operational-which in the Government's view is the responsibility of the chief constable-and the powers of the police and crime commissioner. I am afraid that we did not think during the passage of the Bill, nor do so now, that this clear guideline, which it is obvious the Minister still believes in, exists. There will be grey areas as to whether a matter is solely operational or whether it impinges on the police and crime commissioner's responsibilities, which are fairly wide-ranging. They include issuing a police and crime plan, which is required by law, to set out a number of matters relating to the policing of the area which the chief officer of police is to provide, and a duty to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the chief constable's arrangements.
I also made the point, picked up on by my noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey, that the tasks that the director-general might require or ask a chief constable to perform are of unspecified magnitude, scope or significance in relation to resources or impact. I note that the Minister did not seek to assure us in his response that these tasks would be minor and would not have an impact on resources. I therefore assume that the point that I made is valid: that these are tasks of unspecified magnitude, scope or significance in relation to resources or impact. To believe that a chief constable could come to an arrangement with the director-general to perform a task that had a significant impact on resources without any consultation with his or her own police and crime commissioner being required in the Bill seems, as my noble friend said, to denigrate the position and authority of a police and crime commissioner.
I have made the points that I wish to make to the Minister. I hope that, despite his response, he will reflect further on our debate and ask himself whether it is really impossible to write into the Bill a provision that there must be-or if he does not agree to "must", that there will in normal circumstances be-consultation with the police and crime commissioner. If he was prepared to consider that, the Government would save themselves potential difficulties in the relationships between a police and crime commissioner, the director-general of the National Crime Agency and chief constables.
Finally, it is worth pointing out that the Bill does provide for the director-general of the National Crime Agency to make arrangements with the police and crime commissioner for the NCA to use facilities made available by the police and crime commissioner's police force, but not apparently, under the terms of this Bill, for the director-general to have even to consult with a police and crime commissioner when they ask for a task to be carried out that could have a considerable impact on the resources of the police force in question.
At this stage I obviously do not intend to pursue this amendment, but clearly, unless there is some indication in the future that the Minister is prepared to have a realistic rethink about this matter, we will have to consider whether to bring it back on Report.
Lord Rosser: My Lords, the amendment would delete the requirement on the director-general of the National Crime Agency to seek the consent of the Secretary of State before issuing a direction to the chief constable of the British Transport Police, as set out in Clause 5(9). There does not seem to be, in Clause 5, a similar requirement for the director-general to seek the consent of the Secretary of State to a direction to perform a task that is given to the chief officer of an England and Wales police force, as opposed to the chief constable of the British Transport Police.
Schedule 3(8) provides for the director-general of the National Crime Agency to direct, among others, a chief officer of an England and Wales police force, and the chief constable of the British Transport Police, to provide specified assistance to the National Crime Agency, subject to the appropriate consent being given to the direction-meaning that of the Secretary of State in relation to the chief officer of a police force. However, Schedule 3 appears to remain silent on whether the consent of the Secretary of State is required for the director-general of the National Crime Agency to give a direction to provide specified assistance to the chief constable of the British Transport Police-unless of course the chief constable of the British Transport Police is included within the reference to a "chief officer of" a "police force".
I accept that we may not have correctly understood the wording in the parts of the Bill to which I have just referred. I am sure that if we have not, the Minister will point that out. However, if we have understood it correctly, can the Minister explain the significance or otherwise of the necessity for the director-general of the NCA to obtain the consent of the Secretary of State to give a direction only to the chief constable of the British Transport Police appearing in Clause 5, when that clause also deals with directions being given to the chief officer of an England and Wales police
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Why is the necessity for the director-general of the National Crime Agency to seek the consent of the Secretary of State to the giving of a direction to both a chief officer of an England and Wales police force, and the chief constable of the British Transport Police, not dealt with in the same place in the Bill, whether at Clause 5 or Schedule 3, instead of being split, as appears to be the case at present. I accept that Clause 5 and Schedule 3 may address different circumstances, hence the difference in wording Such a distinction between Clause 5 and Schedule 3 does seem to be drawn in Part 5 of Schedule 3, addressing the issue of payments. No doubt the Minister will clarify the position in his reply.
Amendment 39 would remove the requirement for the consent of the Secretary of State to be given. The Minister's response to these amendments may address some of the points we wish to raise under Amendment 39.
Finally, as we are dealing with the issue of directions being given by the director-general, the Minister said at Second Reading that the Bill provides that the director-general should, in exceptional circumstances, be able to direct police forces in England and Wales. Can he tell us where in the Bill it states, "in exceptional circumstances"?
Lord Harris of Haringey: I see the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, readying himself to answer on this amendment. Perhaps he can answer my simple question. We listened to the protestations of the noble Lord, Lord Henley, that the amendments that we just considered were completely unworkable because of the use of the word "must", and that there would be circumstances in which urgent matters and urgent operational needs had to be dealt with. Why do we now find a clause in the schedule which says that before you can get the British Transport Police to do anything, the prior approval of the Secretary of State has to be obtained?
When the noble Earl reads his note, perhaps he could also say whether a fine distinction is being drawn between a direction and a request? If so, perhaps he could also tell us what is the status of the British Transport Police Authority. Does it have no say in the matter? Is it simply for the Secretary of State? I assume that we are here talking about the Secretary of State for Transport, although I understand that there is always a fiction in our legislative process whereby Secretaries of State are indivisible. I assume that, before a direction can be given, the Secretary of State for Transport must be found, diverted from whatever consideration she or he might be giving to high-speed rail, airports or whatever, and told that there is an urgent operational direction needed by the British Transport Police. How is that really meant to work?
Earl Attlee: My Lords, in responding to the amendment, I start by emphasising that in almost all cases, tasking will be voluntary, based on strong relationships and
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In order for the director-general of the agency to use those powers, a threefold test must be met. The performance of the task would be to assist the NCA to carry out its functions; it would need to be expedient for the directed body to perform the task; and satisfactory arrangements could not have been made, or made in time. A further safeguard is that the director-general must personally exercise the power and may delegate it in his absence only to a senior NCA officer, who would be nominated for the purpose. Directed assistance powers would also be subject to a threefold test. There would have to be a special need for that assistance; it would need to be expedient for the directed body to provide assistance; and voluntary assistance could not have been made, or made in time. In addition to that threefold test, any directed assistance to the NCA would require consent from the relevant Secretary of State. Separate arrangements are in place for Northern Ireland.
I was asked about the difference between tasking and assistance. "Tasking" means that the responsibility for the direction and control of the operation goes to the agency being tasked. Examples are that the NCA may task a specific police force to take the lead to disrupt a human-trafficking gang that is predominantly based in that force area but impacting across the UK, or that a police force could task the NCA, subject to the NCA's agreement, to take the direction and control in an operation to disrupt that organised crime group's overseas financial infrastructure by using its specialist cybercapabilities and overseas liaison officers. Under assistance, resources transfer from the operational command of one organisation to another. One example is that if a specific police force is faced with a local kidnapping case, the chief officer could maintain direction and control but request some assistance from the NCA's specialist kidnapping unit. In the case of a co-ordinated day of national action against the smuggling of rhino horns, the NCA could request assistance from UKBA specialists on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora to assist with identifying seized ivory.
The powers in respect of directed tasking are a necessary and sensible backstop to enable the National Crime Agency to fulfil its role of ensuring that there is a co-ordinated national response to serious, organised and complex crime. In particular, directed powers could be vital in time-critical situations where arrangements need to be made quickly and there is not time to establish satisfactory voluntary arrangements. The question that the noble Lord, Lord Rosser, has quite reasonably posed is: why is it necessary for the Secretary of State to consent before the director-general can direct the British Transport Police to perform a task
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The British Transport Police are different to police forces in England and Wales for three reasons. First, it is not a Home Office police force but a special police force, ultimately accountable to the Secretary of State for Transport under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003. Secondly-
Earl Attlee: My Lords, I will go on to say that but what is particularly important is how the British Transport Police are funded. Secondly, unlike police forces in England and Wales, the British Transport Police have a national remit which includes jurisdiction across the railway network in England and Wales-and in Scotland, where policing in the latter is otherwise devolved to the Scottish Government. Thirdly, the British Transport Police are primarily contracted and funded by providers of railway services-the train operators and Network Rail-applying the "user pays" principle. Railway service providers are required to enter into a police services agreement with the British Transport Police as a condition of their licence to operate. Home Office forces have no such contractual or financial relationship with industry of day-to-day significance.
Taking into consideration these difficulties, a direction to the British Transport Police is so significant in regards to the potential impact on accountability, devolved policing arrangements with Scotland and arrangements with industry that it requires a Secretary of State to affirm that the issue is of sufficient national interest. I would also be very surprised if my right honourable friend the Secretary of State did not want to be aware that agreement could not be reached. It would be a very serious matter. On that basis, I hope that the noble Lord will be prepared to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Berkeley:While the noble Earl is quite right about the funding, if the direction to the British Transport Police involves large expenditure, will that come with a cheque or a commitment to pay the extra cost or is the industry to be expected to pay it?
Earl Attlee: My Lords, in all these arrangements assistance is quite often provided under the old pals Act and they do not worry about the expenditure. However, if specialist resources were required-perhaps a mobile crane or a digging machine-that extra expense would have to be recovered. It is inevitable that agreement would be reached. However, the British Transport Police would not have that sort of equipment available. It would normally be used to intercept someone on the transport network.
Lord Harris of Haringey: Perhaps the noble Earl could also address this point. I understand the point about the different funding arrangements for the British
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Perhaps the noble Earl will respond to the question about the terrifying cases of urgency that the noble Lord, Lord Henley, worried us with on the previous group of amendments. How are they going to be dealt with with this requirement for the prior approval of the Secretary of State?
In answer to the noble Lord's question about the British Transport Police Authority, he is right to point out that the chief constable of the British Transport Police is accountable to the British Transport Police Authority in the same way that chief constables of police forces in England and Wales are accountable to their respective police and crime commissioners. However, in the case of a directed tasking to the British Transport Police, the Secretary of State for Transport is ultimately responsible for the security of passengers and staff on the national rail network and on underground and light-rail systems. It is therefore right that she should have the ability to consent to direct tasking of the British Transport Police at the national level aimed at tackling serious and organised crime.
Moreover, tasking by the National Crime Agency may need to take place in time-critical situations. Members of the British Transport Police Authority meet six times a year to set British Transport Police targets and to allocate funds for its budget. It may not be possible to clear consent with the British Transport Police Authority in time for the necessary executive action to take place. This is not to say that the British Transport Police Authority would not be notified by its chief constable of a direct tasking request. I have no doubt that the chief constable of the British Transport Police would notify the British Transport Police Authority of direct tasking as soon as it was feasible to do so. Noble Lords have not convinced me that a situation would arise where the British Transport Police would refuse to provide assistance voluntarily.
Lord Rosser: If the Minister believes that there are no circumstances in which the British Transport Police would fail to provide the assistance required, why does he need directions in the Bill at all on the basis that, presumably, any police force would provide the assistance required?
I want to clarify that I have understood correctly what has been said. What I have inferred-and I would be grateful if the Minister would confirm that I have understood it correctly-is that if the director-general makes a direction under Clause 5 that would require a chief officer of an England and Wales police force to perform a task, that direction does not require the consent of the Secretary of State, albeit that it would if it was in relation to the British Transport Police. Likewise, Schedule 3 provides that the director-general may,
While the approval of the Secretary of State would be required for a direction to a chief officer of an England and Wales police force, it would not be required for a direction to the chief constable of the British Transport Police. I simply want the Minister to clarify that I have understood what he said and that that is the distinction between Clause 5 and Schedule 3. I see the noble Lord, Lord Henley, nodding so I take it that what I have just said is a correct understanding of the position that the Minister explained.
Bear in mind that from the director-general's point of view, if he can satisfy himself-or herself-that he requires a task to be performed by the chief officer of an England and Wales police force, he does not need the consent of the Secretary of State. Therefore, it might be quite tempting for a director-general to try to make sure that any direction that he gives comes under the heading of "performing a task", rather than "providing specified assistance". That is also what I have inferred from the Minister's answer.
Lord Rosser: I am sure it would not be based on bureaucratic convenience. If he could satisfy himself that he was asking for a task to be performed, there would be less bureaucracy as he would not have to get the consent of the Secretary of State. Once again, I fear that there may be a view that there is a very clear divide between what could be defined as performing a task and what might be deemed to be providing specified assistance. I suspect that there will be grey areas over that in at least some cases.
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