Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

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Thursday 16th June 2011

(13 years ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Portrait Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer
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I have one illustration to add to the point that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, made so well. Who is to say that that person with the deckchair is even on the demonstration? One of the issues under the—happily to be repealed—SOCA provisions was that a person turning up in a T-shirt with a slogan saying “down with the war” might be taken to be on a demonstration but might be taken to be walking down the road in a T-shirt. The same thing would apply to things like deckchairs and blankets. Is a poncho something for sleeping in? It is a sort of blanket but your head can go through it. There are all sorts of issues that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, is correct to raise that are going to be an immense matter for judgment.

Baroness Browning Portrait Baroness Browning
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My Lords, I will pick up on that last point about seizure before I begin to address the amendments. Police officers have different seizure powers that are largely based on their need to prevent crime or to seize evidence for a crime. People have mentioned deckchairs and other such items. Depending on the circumstances, it would be up to the police officer concerned to exercise their judgment about whether the item they were seizing was involved in either preventing crime or was evidence that might be used in a later prosecution.

Amendment 244ZZB is premised on ensuring that only the most senior officer present at a scene can issue a direction to cease doing a prohibited activity. The Government fully appreciate the likely challenge to these provisions. We understand that the intention behind the amendment is to ensure that directions are properly issued by escalating authority to the senior officer present at the scene. On a point of principle, the Government are confident that police constables, regardless of rank, can issue appropriate directions. The Government support the return of discretion to police professionals.

On a point of operational practicality, the package of reforms is designed to support early and proportionate interventions by the police to prevent an escalation of prohibited activities. However, the amendment would hinder that. Amendments conferring powers only on the senior officer present at the scene would have an adverse impact on practical enforcement on the ground, and on that basis I urge the noble Baroness to withdraw the amendment.

The same arguments extend to Amendment 244ZA and other amendments in a similar vein. These amendments would remove powers from authorised officers of the Greater London Authority and Westminster City Council, about which I shall say more in a moment. The effectiveness of the new legal framework in Part 3 depends on a strong collaborative partnership approach between the Metropolitan Police, the Greater London Authority and Westminster City Council, with which the Home Office continues to work closely. It is necessary for all three agencies to be able to exercise some powers to avoid the type of situation in which, for example, a heritage warden employed by the Greater London Authority found himself unable to act or to deal with an individual until a police officer arrived to assist. Removing all powers from authorised officers would make the provisions in Part 3 unworkable.

Clearly, members of the public must be able to identify authorised officers, understand what powers they have and their authority to use them, and what avenues of complaint are open to them. Greater London Authority heritage wardens carry identification and wear a uniform, as do authorised officers from Westminster City Council. We understand from both the GLA and Westminster City Council that to date there have been no issues with authorised officers’ identification for the purposes of implementing by-laws. In addition, we are working with the relevant authorities to develop enforcement protocols and guidance on all these issues. I say to my noble friend Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer that the Home Office has undertaken to provide the guidance and operation for this part of the Bill.

The Government recognise the concerns generated by the powers that are available to authorised officers. That is why, as noble Lords may know, we have listened to concerns raised in the other place and have decided to remove the power to use reasonable force from authorised officers. However, the amendments would take away the powers of authorised officers to deal with even the most routine cases. I urge noble Lords not to press their amendments, which would make the provision in Part 3 unworkable. I hope they will feel that I have given them sufficient information to be more confident about how we intend to proceed with this part of the Bill.

Baroness Hamwee Portrait Baroness Hamwee
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My Lords, as has been said, seizure of items, as well as directions, will be very much a matter for judgment. My noble friend referred to training—an issue which was highlighted following past experience. We often talk about lessons learnt but do we ever actually learn the lessons or just talk about learning them? Exactly the same applies to the example given by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours—it will be a matter for judgment. Overenthusiastic authorised officers may well escalate a problem rather than calm it down. The Minister refers to practical problems regarding the senior officer on the scene. I think that the issuing of directions will be less of an issue than one-to-one encounters. Therefore, again, I am not wholly persuaded.

The GLA and Westminster say that there have been no problems with identification as regards their own officers in the past, but I wonder how much that has ever really been tested. I hear what the Minister says, so at this point I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
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Perhaps I may raise one point. My memory may have failed, in which case I am sure it will be pointed out to me. In the proceedings in the other place, some surprise was expressed when the Minister said that a loud radio would be regarded as amplified noise equipment. Is the Minister able to say any more about the definition of amplified noise equipment? I appreciate that it is dealt with in Clause 144(4), but if someone came along with a radio, some of which can be pretty loud, and played it, would that be regarded as being amplified noise equipment or not?

Baroness Browning Portrait Baroness Browning
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My Lords, in responding to Amendment 244ZB and its linked amendments, it is important to re-emphasise why the Government are bringing forward this package of reforms. Parliament Square is a World Heritage Site surrounded, as we know, by important historic buildings such as Westminster Abbey. Its location opposite the Houses of Parliament makes it a focus for protests, and rightly so. This means that we need to balance the competing and legitimate needs of members of the public who come to the area as protestors and of Members of Parliament and others who need to be able to carry out their daily work and enjoy the space as visitors. This extends to the use of amplified noise equipment as much as to encampments.

However, the Government recognise that the use of loudhailers is linked to freedom of expression in a way that erecting a tent is not. The package of reforms accordingly puts lesser restrictions on the use of loudspeakers than on the erection of tents. It does this by putting in place a proportionate authorisation scheme which balances competing rights, so using a loudhailer is a prohibited activity only if it has not been authorised. The authorisation regime set out in Clause 148 applies to a much smaller area than the SOCPA provisions which the Government are repealing. This is in line with the Government’s determination to take an approach based on evidenced problems of the misuse of loudhailers in Parliament Square. The amendments would mean that there would be no regulation whatever on the use of items such as loudhailers and loudspeakers. Not only would this be an abdication of responsibility to deal with the noise nuisance that has plagued Parliament Square for many years, it would also risk causing difficulties where a number of competing protests are taking place.

I will not go into great detail on this. I give way to the noble Lord.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours
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Can I check on a technical point with the noble Baroness? Clause 148(5) states:

“The notice must specify… the kind of amplified noise equipment to which the authorisation applies”.

Does that mean that there will be a control on equipment in terms of the channel output of the equipment being used? It is quite a technical question, but I would have thought that some kind of estimate must be made of the channel output of the equipment. I cannot see any other way of determining what kind of equipment could be authorised.

Baroness Browning Portrait Baroness Browning
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I do not know if I am going to answer the noble Lord in as much detail as he would like. There are already noise regulations which, for example, would deal with other types of equipment such as radios. The noble Lord is indicating from a sedentary position that that is different. Perhaps I may write to him on the point.

We understand that the use of a loudhailer is intrinsic to the right to protest and being able to communicate one’s message, but we consider that some restrictions along the lines proposed in these clauses and elsewhere in Part 3 are required in order to ensure that the rights and freedoms of others are adequately protected and balanced with the rights of protestors. We have no wish to prevent protest around Parliament, and I would hope that the other provisions in Part 3, namely the repeal of SOCPA, show clearly our commitment to restoring rights to protest.

As I have made clear during the debate, the provisions in Part 3 are about ensuring that individuals do not usurp the rights of many others. Therefore it does not seem disproportionate for responsible authorities to be able to place limits on the duration of the use of a loudhailer. The details of this authorisation scheme are clearly set out in the Bill to ensure that it is clear and accessible to all. I urge noble Lords not to press their amendments.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours
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I have a further question. Sometimes when we come in by St Stephen’s Entrance, 200 or 300 people might be meeting on the other side of the road where there is a space. Someone with a loudhailer will be standing there. What control on them will exist? Will they be free to use that loudhailer, or is that a regulated area?

Baroness Browning Portrait Baroness Browning
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They would be free to use it, but subject to authorisation, which at the moment they do not have. I am coming to the question of applications to use the loudhailer, which might be helpful to the noble Lord. I shall just make this point. He and I have both experienced the use of a loudhailer there. If you stand within the precincts of the House of the Commons, you cannot hear what is being said. Protestors are not delivering a message; you just hear a very loud screeching noise. In that context, I also point out that it is not only Members of Parliament who have had their work disrupted by this. It is extremely difficult for the police officers who stand permanently on duty by Palace Gates, and who also have to endure this noise.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours
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I did not refer to Palace Gates.

Baroness Browning Portrait Baroness Browning
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You can still hear it from there. I am not saying that that is where the loudhailer is; I am saying that you can hear it from there. You cannot hear what is being said; you just hear a shriek. As I have said, we are not trying to prevent protestors using a loudhailer but we want it to be proportionate in how it impacts on other people.

I shall just go through the regulations on applications. Twenty-one days is the period currently used by the GLA and Westminster to consider applications for loudhailers under local by-law provisions and Section 137 of SOCPA. Six days would be too short a period and would not give local authorities sufficient time to consult others. We are talking about a very limited area in which authorisation to use amplified noise equipment is needed. The authorisation scheme is there to protect competing interests in the limited space. Therefore, I urge the noble Baroness not to press her amendment.

I come to the court and the distinct issue of limiting its ability, on conviction, to make an order requiring the convicted person not to enter the controlled area of Parliament Square by imposing a time limit of no more than seven days. The Government’s provisions leave the length of time entirely to the court to determine, in line with the circumstances of each case. This is wholly appropriate and would allow the courts to deal with determined individuals who might be resolute in simply coming back after seven days. I hope noble Lords will understand that we believe we have got the proportionality right here. I will write to the noble Lord on his more detailed technical question about different types of equipment.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Portrait Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer
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I thank my noble friend the Minister for her reply. She has certainly laid out the Government’s thinking very clearly. It is still possible to see one or two difficulties. For example, if you wanted to use a loudhailer at the last minute because you had only just decided to march on a particular issue, you would not have 21 days in which to apply to do so. In that case, would you be in contravention of what is in the Bill? There may be some other details that we shall want to come back to on Report, but we now have a clear understanding of where the Government are coming from. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Lord Stevenson of Balmacara Portrait Lord Stevenson of Balmacara
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My Lords, the whole House should congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, on the way in which she has introduced the amendment. It has given us a good perspective on these issues and picks up on the very good debate on this topic that we had at Second Reading.

This side of the House took from that debate the concern that has just been mentioned about the rhetoric of the war on drugs and the worry that that may have outlived its purpose. Our concern is that there needs to be a new look at all the psychoactive drugs, and a policy that looks through one prism at the way in which they impact on individuals and society. Our continuing worry has been expressed again today: that policy in this area needs to be joined up much better, so that the health and educational aspects of all work on drugs are brought together. I know—at least, I hope—that the Minister shares in that expression of concern. Whether that amounts to a need for a new plan B in this area would be a good debate and might be something that we want to come back to on Report.

Our amendments in this group are supportive of the original amendment. We feel that control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 may be appropriate for the most harmful new substances, but it has a number of negative consequences that can increase the dangers to some users from the substance in question and other more harmful substances for which new drugs may be substituted. It would therefore be appropriate for the ACMD to be asked also to consider the use of other legal powers, such as consumer protection legislation, trading standards in particular or, as has been discussed, medicines controls, before they consider recommending the use of temporary banning orders.

As has been mentioned again in this debate, the experience of the control of mephedrone indicates that the Government can at times have very limited information about both the impact of controlled substances on users and the changes in usage in terms of the adoption of both less and more harmful behaviours caused by the introduction of legal controls. Again, it would be appropriate for the ACMD to commit to reviewing the effects, both positive and negative, of each temporary ban before making any recommendations about making the control permanent. It should be noted that, even one year after a temporary ban has been introduced, robust data about usage and the impact of the ban are likely to be limited unless steps are taken to improve data collection processes. The evaluation should certainly consider, at the very minimum, the impact of temporary bans on the use of the banned substances: the actual use of the substance, its purity and the replacement of the banned substance with other substances, including controlled and other substances.

Finally, the Government should be encouraged to commit to reviewing the temporary banning powers in general after three years from their first use. This will provide an opportunity to evaluate how effectively they are being used and what impact they are having on the consideration of other control mechanisms.

Baroness Browning Portrait Baroness Browning
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My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken. I know that we share an understanding across the House of the seriousness of this important subject. The measures in this legislation are designed to implement a coalition agreement that we would introduce a system of temporary bans on new legal highs and psychoactive substances while health issues are considered by independent experts. We will not permanently ban a substance without receiving full advice from the ACMD. That was the Government’s commitment. I hope that I can reassure noble Lords that, although this has come before the House in this legislation, we have not been neglectful of the need to act quickly on these matters. We know that this is a fast-moving subject.

We have, for example, completed a three-month pilot to explore improvements to the current forensic early-warning system for indentifying new and emerging drugs, which are emerging all the time. The forensic early warning system will see the Government and the forensic community working together to proactively identify emerging drugs using a range of methods including laboratory testing and analysis of police seizures. I will not say more about that, but I wanted to share it with the House because it is important that, while we legislate on the need to be able to bring in these temporary bans, a lot of work takes place alongside that.

Of course, we also rely on the expert advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, which we consider to be an important part of the process. Indeed, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has already asked the ACMD to produce a further report in the summer, looking at how we will take this overall policy forward in a more general way.

Clause 152 introduces Schedule 17 provisions for temporary class drug orders by virtue of amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The new provisions will ensure that our drug laws are responsive to the changing drug landscape. New emerging psychoactive substances come at pace out of laboratories where they are designed. As has been mentioned, these laboratories are not necessarily located in this country. The substances may also be marketed from abroad and, as we have heard, over the web. Suppliers market them to young people in particular. We propose to remove from these unscrupulous manufacturers and suppliers the opportunity to cause harm to the public with these new synthetic drugs. The UK’s response, including the use of the new powers, will remain proportionate to the threat that a new drug poses.

The Secretary of State must meet two conditions to invoke a temporary class drug order which are aligned to current provisions for permanent drug control. The first condition is to have established that the drug in question must not be caught under the 1971 Act. The second condition, which we introduced in response to the concerns expressed by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and in the other place, is that ACMD must be consulted or have made a recommendation for an order to be made.

The ACMD will continue to be entrusted with the provision of comprehensive advice to government on measures that ought to be taken. As an independent expert body, it will provide best advice that may or may not include a recommendation to make a temporary class drug order. It may or may not include broader advice. The Government have no intention of fettering the basis on which its experts advise. Noble Lords will be interested to know that we will shortly be receiving from the ACMD its general advice on approaches to demand and supply of new psychoactive substances. We will give full consideration to that advice and implement it where appropriate.

The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, suggests in her amendments that the supply of a temporary class drug should be regulated under the Intoxicating Substances (Supply) Act 1985, I believe with the purpose of restricting sales to a person under the age of 18. I commend her focus on protecting young people from these drugs and their harms. She and I have discussed this very important area and I hope that we will continue to do so. However, if the ACMD and the Secretary of State consider that a drug’s harms are or have the potential to warrant temporary control, it is the Government's policy to take steps that protect all of society, not just those under the age of 18.

I was also asked—I think by the noble Baroness—about the need for more information to be provided, particularly to young people. We are hoping to improve this situation. Since I took up my post in the Home Office, I have written to the organisers of music and pop festivals which take place around the country at this time of year. My predecessor did this last year. It was a good way to get that information across to the people who attend these festivals—that is, through the organisers. That would apply particularly to some of the young people the noble Baroness mentioned.

The new powers will bring control of a temporary class drug order under the 1971 Act, which requires that an initial impact assessment is made. Under the current provisions, a further, fuller impact assessment is required if a drug is to be permanently controlled, and in more detail where any legitimate use of the drug has been identified. We want to avoid duplicating those arrangements that are already in place.

In addition, annual publications of drug misuse and enforcement statistics and research outcomes in the delivery of our policies will also give effect to noble Lords’ and the Government’s shared purpose of gathering evidence to inform our policies. We regard that as very important.

The noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, mentioned methadrone and the Mixmag survey. Although mephedrone became a controlled class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act on 16 April 2010, and the Mixmag survey of 16 to 24 year-olds survey showed that since the drug was banned 56 per cent of respondents said that their use of the drug had decreased or stopped, perhaps particularly important was the fact that since the ban approximately 141 kilos of mephedrone were seized by the UK Border Agency. That is a quantity of the drug that has not gone into the public arena for use by young people.

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Baroness Browning Portrait Baroness Browning
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My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have spoken. On the last group of amendments, I referred to the protocol. It is true that we are still working on the protocol for the ACMD but the draft protocol was placed in the House of Lords Library in April this year.

The working protocol makes very clear that the ACMD will inform the Home Office what expertise it requires and that the Home Office will seek the views of the ACMD to inform any recruitment campaign. The chief scientific adviser to the Home Office will advise the Home Secretary on the balanced membership requirements appropriate to available resource and the need for effective functioning, and the chair of the ACMD will sit on interview panels. I that hope noble Lords who have not yet availed themselves of that document will obtain a copy from the Library.

The Government share the concern for ensuring the quality of the ACMD’s expert advice to inform our drug policy. Therefore, I welcome this opportunity to set out our reasons for proposing this change to the ACMD’s constitution, and in particular to disabuse noble Lords of the allegations laid at the Government’s door that we are intending to remove scientists from the ACMD, which could not be further from the truth.

I fully acknowledge the intention of the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay. It may not appear so at first consideration but we share a common interest and appear to be working to a common end, namely securing expertise to the ACMD from which it may provide high-quality advice and by which we may maintain public confidence in that advice. However, we are going about it in a different way. Our proposal is intended to place all members of the ACMD on an equal footing. It might be of interest to the House to know that similar constitutional changes were made to the advisory body under the Medicines Act 1968, the original requirements in it having been similar to requirements placed in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The statutory membership requirements were removed in 2005 and replaced by a broad understanding that members will be appointed because of their high-level scientific expertise and their ability in critical appraisal rather than, as my noble friend Lord Carlile pointed out, a rather old-fashioned and pre-prescribed set of six disciplines.

We recognise that each member of the ACMD has a valuable contribution to make to the work of the council. We take the view that placing one area of expertise on a greater footing than others brings into question the need for the latter. In addition, we do not want to devalue ACMD advice where it derives from particular areas of non-statutory expertise altogether. I advise noble Lords to consider the list of expertise of which it is anticipated that the ACMD membership will be predominantly drawn up, as outlined in the working protocol. When members who have not had a chance to look at the protocol see that list, if they have issues about it or the range of disciplines suggested I would be very happy discuss those with them.

The working protocol also sets out the future involvement of the ACMD in recruiting new members, and the Government and the ACMD are prepared to be held to account on the terms of the protocol. The final version will be published and placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

The Government are of the view that we are giving a far more expansive commitment regarding the expert advice and independence of the ACMD than it is reasonable to doubt. It is not in anyone’s interests, including those of the public, to expose the ACMD—the advice that it gives, the actions that the Government may take in response to that advice and, as appropriate, Parliament’s endorsement of those actions—to speculation and indeed to challenge over whether at any point the ACMD has members who cover the expertise that a statute may discriminate in favour of. I am sure that it is not noble Lords’ intention to facilitate such a situation but it would be an unacceptable product of these amendments.

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Baroness Scotland of Asthal Portrait Baroness Scotland of Asthal
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No, my Lords, certainly not. I was seeking to relieve the Committee of the burden of listening to me for more than was absolutely necessary, bearing in mind that we are now at 9.19 pm and the Government have yet to respond. Of course, it is for the Government to deal with these matters. I simply wanted to make plain that we on this side would support the analysis made by the noble Lords, Lord Carlile and Lord Pannick, and my noble and learned friend Lord Goldsmith. I thought that that would be the fastest way. I am sure that we can return to this on Report. If the Committee would love to hear from me on that basis, I am sure that I could entertain your Lordships for some considerable time. But, at this time of night, something told me that the Committee would not thank me. For that reason, I have curtailed my remarks. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, need have no such restraint.

Lord McNally Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally)
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My Lords, sometimes the House throws up, well outside the usual hours of attention, debates of immense importance. There is no doubt that this debate will be read and studied outside the confines of the House to great advantage, because it was extremely thorough, with arguments deployed on both sides with great passion but also, in the tradition of the House, with great courtesy. As one of the non-lawyers participating, I very much benefited from listening to the learned side of the House dealing with matters of law.

Of course, as with all these things, it is a matter of judgment. We get advice from many quarters. It is not a matter of setting the view of the Joint Committee on Human Rights at nil; our judgment is carefully considered. However, as the two former Attorneys-General pointed out, somebody then has to make a judgment. The judgment that we have made is that the purpose of Clause 154 is to ensure that in respect of offences over which the United Kingdom has asserted universal jurisdiction, an arrest warrant is issued on the application of a private prosecution only where there is a real prospect of a viable prosecution. This outcome is achieved by requiring the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions before the warrant can be issued. The Government have decided that this is the best way forward.

The detail of this debate indicates that more than one opinion can be honestly held, but nothing that I have heard today has dissuaded me from thinking that this is the right way forward. However, we will return to this on Report. I hope that some issues were clarified in the debate. Certainly I will look at the resource issue that was raised by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, but I am a little worried about the answer that I will be given—[Interruption.] It is always worrying when there are interventions. It is bad enough when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, intervenes, but when the thunderous intervention seems to come from an even higher authority, one gets really worried.

I pay tribute to the previous Government on their record on universal jurisdiction. The two officeholders responsible can take rightful pride in it. I also put on record the confidence of this Government in the independence and abilities of the present DPP. The way that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, introduced the debate set a tone that encouraged the exchange of honest and informed opinions. Although I will ask noble Lords, given the nature of the Committee stage, not to press their amendments, it is clear that the debate will influence further discussions on how we go forward.

I will deal with some of the issues. The noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, finished her remarks by expressing her concern that there would be unnecessary delay. That concern was also expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza. It was answered very clearly by the noble Lords, Lord Carlisle and Lord Pannick. In some ways, I shall try to shorten my remarks because I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, is after my job, but his speech answered many of the questions raised, including on delay. The DPP has made it clear that anyone who wants to pursue a crime of universal jurisdiction should engage very early with him. Giving evidence, he said:

“They should come to us with whatever evidence they have, and we will undertake to look at it and to advise”.—[Official Report, Commons, Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill Committee, 20/1/11; col. 124]

We have already heard evidence about the amount of resources and the 24/7 nature of that coverage.

It is not a matter of trusting the judges to do their job. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, put the problem far better. The actual case put to the judge is not the one that causes the problem in that, as the noble and learned Lord rightly pointed out, it may involve somebody being detained on very spurious grounds. We are all experienced politicians and we have seen examples. The gain for those wanting to raise these issues is not in the trial or the verdict but in the publicity gained by getting the individual into the situation in the first place. As the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, and the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, suggested, it is not in any way that we wish to take away the right of the private citizen to pursue matters of universal jurisdiction, but simply that we believe that the present situation is unsatisfactory and extremely difficult in terms of law. I know that there have been very few cases but, as the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, pointed out and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, confirmed, the previous Government were looking at this issue and feared, as do we, that there is a risk that the present weakness of our system could be exploited at a time when we would want to use all our influence.

One accepts the point raised by the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, that there may be a chill factor in asking for that hurdle to be cleared. As the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, argued, there may be a deterrence factor. We have had to weigh those things, and we have come down in favour of trying to remove that deterrence factor while not removing the line to universal jurisdiction. We are asking a non-political officer to look at the issue and asking those wishing to take it forward to clear what is in many ways a very modest hurdle if the situation is as clear as they would claim. There is no point in allowing the court to issue a warrant in a case where the director has concluded that there is no realistic prospect of a viable prosecution. That is why we believe that the first three amendments cast the Director of Public Prosecutions in an advisory role to the court, which is not welcome.

Amendment 245 requires the court to apply to the DPP for advice on the advisability of granting a warrant or summons. It goes on to make it clear that such a warrant or summons cannot be issued without taking into account the DPP’s advice. As was acknowledged by those who tabled the other amendments, the thrust of them is to move from giving responsibility to the DPP to putting him in an advisory role. The DPP was clear in his evidence to the Public Bill Committee about the degree of detail in which applications for consent are examined and the specialist resources that are available for him in doing so. If the DPP concludes that the tests under the code for the Crown prosecutors are not met, it is difficult to see what purpose will be served by the court nevertheless issuing a warrant or why it would wish to do so.

Amendment 245AA is obviously intended to place in the Bill the test used by the DPP in considering whether to grant this consent. I will not go into great detail at this point because I would be afraid of rekindling the fire between the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, and the noble Lord, Lord Thomas. But I ask readers of Hansard to turn to those exchanges to judge again whether we have got the balance right. I think that we have. I am not persuaded that it is necessary to embody the guidance in the clause. The tests are of general application but they are not set out in statute and it would be strange to do so in this context.

The amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Carlile is designed to monitor the arrangements for investigating and prosecuting certain grave international offences and for assisting the International Criminal Court. I understand the interest in reviewing the effectiveness of these arrangements but I am not sure that what is proposed would be helpful. Prosecutions for one of these exceptionally grave offences are rare and when one takes place it is newsworthy enough for a reporting requirement to be superfluous. Investigations that do not end in prosecution are a different matter and reporting on them would not be straightforward.

As the exclusions built in the amendment recognise, it would not be right to disclose personal details, but without such details the information is unlikely to be meaningful. The information that the report provided would therefore be so incomplete as to make it effectively useless. What would be of value would be for the Director of Public Prosecutions to monitor any case for which his consent is sought under Clause 154, which applies to offences that to some extent overlap with those listed in this amendment, and to publish the number of cases and the outcome. I understand that the director would be content to carry this out.

The amendment includes a requirement to report on the assistance of the International Criminal Court. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office produces an annual human rights command paper, which includes details of the UK policy on criminal justice and the rule of law. It is subject to the scrutiny of the Foreign Affairs Committee. The command paper makes clear the UK’s commitment to the principle that there should be no impunity for the most serious international crimes and that we should provide details of the practical support which we have provided to all six existing international criminal tribunals. The paper does not currently provide the level of detail which the amendment would require but the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will give careful consideration to extending it to include more specific details of assistance provided as envisaged by this amendment.

I would ask the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, and the noble Baroness, Lady Tonge, when they have time to look at those two responses, to see whether they are satisfactory. I will be happy to meet with them on these points, but I hope that they go a long way to meet what they say. If not, of course, we can return to this on Report or clarify it further in discussions. I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment, but with real and personal thanks both for the spirit and the level of engagement in this debate which I hope will help to reassure people about where we are coming from. I think that both in this House and in this Parliament there is cross-party commitment to pursuing those who perpetrate horrific crimes that are committed all over the world and which were so graphically described by my noble friend Lady Tonge. As a country, we have been for many years a leader in this, and we will continue to be.

I can make a personal commitment. At the Ministry of Justice and within this Government, I am the Minister responsible for civil liberties and human rights. I would not stand at the Dispatch Box advocating this clause if I did not believe that it was absolutely foursquare with our continuing full commitment to the universal jurisdiction. It is not a step towards political control. It gives us a law that is fit for purpose, a very noble purpose, if we all continue to pursue it.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours
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My Lords, we have had a fascinating debate. It is nearly 10 o’clock and I have not eaten yet, as indeed will be the case for most noble Lords. We have a lot to reflect on before the Report stage, as indeed will many organisations outside this House which have been in contact with Members. Before I withdraw the amendment, I should say that I remain slightly confused about the public interest. That is where the suspicion may well lie, and as I understand it, explanations as to what constitutes the public interest in particular cases are not published. With that in mind, the responses of the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, to my interventions may well be of interest to a number of organisations. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Browning Portrait Baroness Browning
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My Lords, my noble friend Lady Doocey has put forward the assertion that it is not in the interests of the Metropolitan Police Service for the model to be implemented in London before the Olympics due to the potential impact on the operational delivery of policing within London. I have to say to my noble friend—and I know she has heard this also from my right honourable friend the Policing Minister in person on a number of occasions—that not just the Mayor of London but the Commissioner of the Metropolis is also keen for the transition from MPA governance to that of the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime as soon as possible after Royal Assent is achieved for this Bill.

I appreciate that my noble friend’s concerns that moving to the new system of governance ahead of the Olympics will require the membership of the newly established police and crime panel in London to be brought up to speed on the intricacies of the Olympic operation in London, which the Metropolitan Police will co-ordinate with the support of other forces in England and Wales. However, I would stress that the key decision-makers around this operation within London, the Mayor for London and the Commissioner of the Metropolis, will remain the same if the transfer from one system of governance to the other takes place before May 2012. Of course, we cannot predict the outcome of the mayoral election in May 2012. It may be the case that in May next year the commissioner will be briefing a new mayoral team on the policing arrangements for the Olympics. But that is a possibility that arises whenever we commence the provisions in the Bill. The point is that commencing the provisions before May 2012 would not create any additional disruption.

I am sorry that I cannot say more to my noble friend. I know that she has had several conversations with my right honourable friend in another place about this since she originally raised these concerns. I am obviously very happy to talk to her about it again, but we have double-checked that there is no real concern with the mayor or the commissioner. That is the response sought specifically in relation to the concerns that my noble friend raised previously.

We have already debated at some length the merits of pilots, and it is the Government's view that pilots should not take place, as this would create two models of governance within England and Wales for a police service that on a daily basis interacts and collaborates across force boundaries. We have also made it clear that the Government do not believe it necessary for HMIC to conduct a feasibility study into the coalition Government’s manifesto commitment. HMIC has already provided sound evidence of the need for reform and greater accountability and transparency to be introduced within the policing landscape within England and Wales.

I am grateful to the many noble Lords who have made their views known during the Committee stage of this Bill. I am also grateful for the meetings that I have had with Members across the House on Part 1 of the Bill. I hope to meet as many concerns as possible when we return at Report, but I am unable to accept the amendments before the House tonight, and I invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Rosser Portrait Lord Rosser
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I thank the Minister for that response, which I have to say was not entirely a surprise. The Minister has said on more than one occasion that the Government are listening. We will await and see what impact that has at Report before considering whether or not to pursue this matter at that stage. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.