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Lord Molyneaux of Killead: I should like to lend my support to Amendment No. 104 and to support what has been said by the noble Baroness, Lady Harris, in moving it. I believe that the performance targets and indicators are essential and, for the life of me, I cannot see why there should be any reluctance on the part of any responsible person or body to accept the subparagraphs in the amendment, which state:
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I shall speak first to Amendments Nos. 108 and 109, which set out in Clause 26 that the policing plan must include a training and education strategy. Amendment No. 109 requires the Secretary of State to consult such bodies as may be relevant before issuing a code of practice to the policing board under Clause 27.
It has been the Government's intention to include in regulations a requirement on the board to assess the training and education needs of police officers and support staff, and to give particulars of how those needs were to be met. The Government set this out in draft regulations which were made available when the Bill was considered in Committee in another place. This issue was addressed in regulations because Patten specifically recommended that the legislation be simplified.
However, the Government have been criticised by some for not putting the training strategy in primary legislation as it is such an important issue. To show that the Government are willing to listen to these concerns we have introduced Amendment No. 108. The Government remain fully committed to the board's role in developing such a strategy.
Amendment No. 109 allows the Secretary of State to take on board the expertise of various organisations where their input would add value to any codes of practice issued by the Secretary of State to the board or, in permitted circumstances, the chief constable. The reference to consultation is generic because it would be impossible to list every organisation that might have an interest in a particular code. The Government have shown themselves to be open to appropriate consultation in a number of areas in the Bill and again have responded to concerns on this particular point. I ask that this amendment be accepted. In the light of my comments and government Amendment No. 109, I hope that Amendment No. 110, which stands in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Smith and Lord Shutt, will not be pressed.
Turning to other amendments to Part IV of the Bill, the effects of Amendments Nos. 99 and 101 would be to remove the ombudsman as a consultee on policing objectives. Patten said, at paragraph 6.42, that he could not emphasise too strongly the importance of
The ombudsman will feed her experience and the lessons learnt through her investigations and the research of police policy and practices arising from complaints into the planning process. The Government understand the importance of the ombudsman's role. We consulted fully on the issue before including this role and feel it to be appropriate.
Amendment No. 100 would require the Secretary of State to set objectives for three to five years. Again, Patten specifically recommended that the board should set objectives for this three to five year period, taking account of any longer-term objectives set by the Secretary of State. The Bill implements Patten's recommendation, simplifying the planning process to create a system for effective strategic planning. Again I ask the Committee to resist this amendment.
Amendments Nos. 102 to 107 deal with targets and other contents of the policing plan. I appreciate the aim behind these amendments and the Government share the commitment of noble Lords to measuring police performance through targets. But the Government also want to implement the Patten report, and recommendation 22 of that report states that the legislation and the system should be simplified.
Amendments Nos. 102 to 107 all seek to prescribe the need for performance targets on the face of the Bill. A number also seek to specify that the plan should contain the Secretary of State's and board's objectives. This would replicate the provisions of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998. Patten described these provisions as "labyrinthine" and said that these "complicated provisions" should be simplified.
To achieve this the Government have included in regulations issued under Clause 26 a requirement for the board's police plan to contain targets and other matters covered by the amendments. Amendment No. 106 seeks to remove this power.
These regulations which the Government have made available show that there is really very little separating the Government from Members of the Committee who have tabled amendments in this group. I hope that they will feel able to withdraw them.
The noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, asked why the board's power to set targets should be removed. The government proposals do not remove the board's power to set targets. That will be set out in regulations, as the noble Lord acknowledged. The provision is the result of recommendations in the Patten report.
The noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, my noble and learned friend Lord Archer, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Harris and Lady Park of Monmouth, referred to comparisons in terms of the police planning system with England and Wales. The system of police planning and objective setting is broadly similar to that in England and Wales; but the system set out in the Bill is to implement Patten's recommendation and to be adapted to suit Northern Ireland, with its one
The noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, and the noble Baroness, Lady Harris, raised the issue of why there should be this change and what would be gained by it. The board will retain power to set targets. This can be seen from the draft regulations which have been made available. The board will gain control of annual planning and strategic planning--formerly down to the chief constable alone. The board will set strategic and annual objectives, which was formerly a function fulfilled by the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State now sets only long-term objectives.
I ask the Committee to resist Amendments Nos. 102 to 107 so that the Government can implement Patten's proposals on simplifying the primary legislation. I ask the Committee to resist Amendments Nos. 99 to 101 which are contrary to the spirit of what the Government are attempting to achieve by implementing Patten's proposals in this area. I think the intent of Amendment No. 110 is covered by the Government's own Amendment No. 109.
Lord Hylton: Before the noble Lord replies, perhaps I may say a word of welcome for government Amendment No. 108. Assessing the need for educating and training police officers may be particularly important in the transitional period before we reach, as is to be hoped, 50:50 parity in composition.
(a) contain an assessment of the requirements for educating and training police officers and members of the police support staff and give particulars of the way in which those requirements are to be met; and
(b) include such other statements and give particulars of such other").