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Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Volume 727: debated on Wednesday 11 May 2011

Committee (1st Day) (Continued)

My Lords, as Amendment 1 has been agreed to, I cannot call Amendments 2 to 8A inclusive because of pre-emption. I now call Amendment 9 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Harris.

My Lords, this may be an appropriate moment for me to raise an important point. The Committee has just voted against the principle of elected police and crime commissioners, which is a key pillar of the Bill. From our perspective, everything that flows from that is part of that important principle. It makes a mockery of the discussion and debate on this part of the Bill if we continue as though this has not happened. It is our view on this side of the Committee that it would be prudent to adjourn so that the Government and Members of the Committee can reflect on what has happened to the Bill so that we can proceed in a sensible and orderly way. Having ripped the guts out of a piece of legislation, I cannot see how we can intelligently proceed as though nothing has happened.

My Lords, the process is clear. The House of Lords tonight made a decision to remove elected commissioners. That does not prevent the House of Lords doing its normal duty of properly scrutinising this legislation. The Opposition Chief Whip seeks to prevent the House of Lords scrutinising other parts of the Bill tonight. In asking the Committee to suspend proceedings, he is asking it to do just that.

The decision that was taken by the Committee a short while ago means that consequential amendments have not yet been agreed to, Amendment 9 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Harris, being one. The noble Baroness is not in her seat but others are present who may move it. The Committee has decided that it does not wish to discuss piloting schemes because it has removed the elected commissioners from the Bill, but it has left in place police authorities with a different system of operating, so it is in order for the Committee to proceed in the normal way—that is, to consider accepting the consequential amendments to Amendment 1 and then to consider the other amendments beginning with Amendment 10. The noble Lord who is on the Woolsack will guide the Committee on which amendments may be further pre-empted.

I know that every Member of this Committee who voted to defeat the Government in the Division will have considered very carefully all the consequences of what they were doing before they took that action. Therefore, I am sure that they would not wish to suspend the Committee and deny it any further opportunity to consider amendments. I think it is appropriate that we should proceed. If the Committee has decided that it does not wish to do its job of scrutiny, that would, of course, be a different matter.

My Lords, having heard what the Chief Whip has said, I accept, of course, that we should proceed to consider the important parts of the Bill. I will not move that the Committee should adjourn, but the Government need to come back to the Dispatch Box, if not today then certainly when the Bill goes into the second day in Committee, to explain exactly how they intend to deal with this issue because the Committee has made its voice very clear on this matter. I would have thought that a period of mature reflection on the implications of the previous amendment being passed would greatly benefit our further consideration of the Bill.

The noble Baroness is right to say that we should deal with consequential amendments. My advice to the Committee would be rather different from her own, but we are the Opposition and the noble Baroness represents the Government.

My Lords, perhaps I can help the noble Lord further. This Government, like any other, would wish to engage in discussions with all those who are interested in the Bill between Committee and further stages. That is the normal way of doing things. However, the difficulty is that the Committee has taken a decision that it does not wish to consider all these matters again until another place has had the opportunity to consider them. That does not, of course, stop discussions with those who moved the initial amendment and those who supported it. That is the normal way we proceed; it is just that the Committee has prevented us doing it on the Floor of this Chamber. Although the fact that Amendment 1 was carried must necessarily still the voices of those who would have liked to speak to Amendments 2, 3, 4 and so on, there is much else of importance in the Bill.

I am grateful to the noble Lord for agreeing that it is right for this House to do its job—a job it does with some distinction. The results of that do not always bring the Government Chief Whip joy but we will all work together, now and in the future, to work our way through this legislation. The Deputy Chairman has called Amendment 9. It might be for the benefit of those who were keen that Amendment 1 should be carried that Amendment 9 should be put to the Committee so that it can be agreed as a consequential amendment.

My Lords, I ask for clarification on what the Chief Whip told us, because I feel that I am again a novice in this House, after a mere 12 years, or whatever, as a Member. I am completely confused as to where we are. I am sure that the Committee would welcome further clarity from the noble Baroness the Chief Whip. Am I to understand that because we have effectively deleted the first line of the Bill, which states that there shall be in each area outside London an elected policing and crime commissioner, we have pre-empted not just the amendments that the Lord Speaker told us at the beginning were pre-empted, but all amendments to all bits of the Bill that relate to policing and crime commissioners? In that case, we might, I suppose, debate Clause 2 that deals with chief constables; and we might deal with those bits of the Bill that deal with London, licensing, universal jurisdiction and Parliament Square. Are we being told essentially that those clauses—which are, of course, interspersed with other clauses dealing with policing and crime commissioners—are effectively pre-emptive? I simply want to know and understand, because people will spend time preparing for debates that might otherwise not take place?

My Lords, I reassure the noble Lord, Lord Harris, who is an experienced performer, both in this Chamber and in another Assembly, and therefore knows how to obfuscate to his advantage what is clear, that the position is clear. Consequential amendments from Amendment 9 will naturally be accepted and not be opposed by the Government. Amendments from Amendment 10, where they have not been pre-empted by Amendment 1, are to be debated. The noble Lord will of course look carefully, at Amendment 31 and others that follow. There are amendments on which we will continue discussions. I suggest that it is time to do just that.

My Lords, I am sorry to intervene, but I do so also for the purpose of clarity. The debate that resulted in the vote was on the basis, of course, of the deletion of the provision for police commissioners and for the insertion of a police commission, consisting of two parts. That provides a similar basis for debating many of the amendments that we will come to, because it will allow a number of points to be raised similar to those relating to a sole commissioner. I was assuming, for instance, that although we will not, I suspect, consider a group of amendments on piloting the new arrangements, nevertheless there will be new arrangements which, in due course I will seek to argue should be piloted.

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend. I was trying to say, but less succinctly, that debate continues. Of course the Committee has decided to silence debate on those issues that were within Amendments 1 to 8. I suggest that we continue the debate and allow the Chairman of Committees to call Amendment 9, so that we can agree to something.

Moved by

9: Clause 1, page 1, line 8, leave out subsection (2)

Amendment 9 agreed.

Amendment 10 not moved.

Amendments 11 and 12

Moved by

11: Clause 1, page 1, line 9, leave out subsection (3)

12: Clause 1, page 1, line 11, leave out subsection (4)

Amendments 11 and 12 agreed.

Amendment 13

Moved by

13: Clause 1, page 1, line 13, after “has” insert “, subject to section (Shadow operation)”

My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendments 23, 28, 149 and 237. This group of amendments proposes the shadow operation of the new arrangement. It is as well that for the purposes of this argument I do not need to spell out which arrangement that might be. However, it seems that there will be some sort of new arrangement—whether it be a single commissioner or a commission, as my noble friend has proposed.

I tabled these amendments thinking of recent experience at local government level. When new authorities were formed—most recently some new unitary authorities —it was the normal arrangement that there should be a transitional period involving shadow working of the new authorities. The most recent involvement related to the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 that provided for implementation arrangements by way of orders dealing with transition. I accept that local government is more complicated—or I did, at any rate, until about 7 pm—but it seems sensible to allow for a transition from the current police authorities to the new structure on an authority-by-authority basis. This is not an argument for staging the transfer at different times.

I am sorry to interrupt the noble Baroness in mid-flow, but as I understand it, if her amendment were accepted we would, after the phrase,

“A police and crime commissioner has”,

insert the words in her amendment. If police and crime commissioners have just been removed from the Bill, what are the words that her amendment follows?

The police and crime commissioner has not been removed from the Bill, in that Amendment 31, which was in the first group, provides for a commission consisting of, first, a police and crime commissioner. I am sorry if the noble Lord feels that we should disrupt debate about something which I think it is appropriate for us to discuss in principle. As the Government have decided tonight that we should go on, it seems a pity to forfeit the opportunity to talk about how any new arrangement might come into being. I would like to continue. Clearly, several noble Lords would not like me to continue.

I must put the Question before the debate starts. I would be grateful if the noble Baroness could continue her introduction.

I thank the noble Lord. I have explained why I think it is still appropriate to debate the amendment.

At local government level, there was a format. For each new authority’s structural change order, there was an implementation executive which was adapted to local circumstances and literally shadowed the executive. There was preparation of an implementation plan, which included,

“such plans and timetables as the Implementation Executive considers necessary to secure effective, efficient and timely discharge of”,

the functions, in that case, and such budgets and plans as it considers necessary or desirable to facilitate the economic, effective, efficient and timely discharge of the functions after the relevant date. As I said, this is not the same as a local authority, but the noble Lord will recall, as I do, that when the Greater London Authority was formed, there was a period of shadow working—probably insufficient; it was a month or so.

Whatever arrangement we end up with—after the debate this evening, we are not without a proposed new structure—I am concerned that it should work as well as possible. Schedule 15 provides for transitional provisions. I am sure that the Government believe that everything has been covered in the schedule. Experience might suggest to many of your Lordships that it is hard to anticipate precisely everything that needs to be covered and that there is a risk in such a big bang approach. It is better, in my view, to allow time to consider the detail, because things always seem different once you are in the thick of things, when issues may be thrown up, than when you are anticipating them.

However much thought has been given to both the schedule and the transition board, which I understand the Home Office has formed—chaired, I think, by the police Minister—it would be wise to provide some arrangement which will allow for what may not have been anticipated in the legislation. I do not think that my drafting is of the finest order, but there is an issue here. I beg to move.

I am puzzled, even in the context of this place, by the procedure being followed at present. Were we debating the amendment in the normal circumstances that many of us, at least, anticipated on the government side, I would oppose it because, as I said earlier, I support the view that we should have democratic accountability for police forces, although my preference is for elected police authorities. I am very disappointed that we cannot debate that issue as a result of pre-emption. That might have been an intelligent debate on a subject with some empirical evidence on which the House could have offered some wisdom to the Government. Indeed, I was beginning to feel a little like Baldrick, because I thought that I had come up with a cunning plan and, rather like Baldrick, had not anticipated that it might be effective on the odd occasion.

This debate reminds me of the childhood poem that starts, “I met a man upon the stair”. The man is the elected police commissioner but he is not there because, in reality, he has just been removed from the Bill by the vote. To put it another way, it is like the Mad Hatter’s tea party without either the Mad Hatter or the tea. I urge my noble friend Lady Hamwee to draw stumps in some way on this group of amendments so that we can in due course have a proper debate on the proper predicate. The predicate for the whole series of amendments that follows is that Clause 1(1) has been agreed.

Touché! I, too, wish that the man would go away—and I am grateful for the reminder—albeit to be recreated in the form that I wanted to discuss on my amendment. I take the opportunity to repeat that that amendment may well command quite a lot of support after what happened earlier this evening and it may provide some kind of solution.

As I have just said, this is all predicated on something that has been defeated. I very respectfully say to my noble friends on the government Front Bench, who know that I broadly support them in this context, that it is not acceptable for your Lordships’ House to have this kind of artificial debate in what seems like fairyland. I simply ask for the position to be reconsidered. Many substantive issues in the Bill can be debated. For example, I know that my noble friend Lady Doocey has some very important matters to raise in relation to London, and I hope that we can have a really good debate on those. There are substantial matters relating to licensing, and we can have real debates on those issues, too. I am proposing a new clause about war crimes and the universal jurisdiction, which I shall debate with anyone at any time. I shall do that off the top of my head right now if that is desired. However, those are examples and I do not wish to catch the Minister unawares, but I think that we could proceed with a number of serious issues without indulging in this artificial exercise.

Therefore, in the spirit of a government supporter, like my noble friend Lord Blencathra, I ask the Government to think again and to bring us back to some form of order. I know that we cannot raise points of order as such in your Lordships’ House but there is a question of order of great substance here which I invite the Chair to consider.

Is not the matter in the hands of the mover of the amendment? If that person simply says “Not moved”, we proceed to the next amendment. Therefore, the decision as to whether any particular amendment is debated is in the hands of the mover.

That may well be technically right but it may require an expression from the government Front Bench that, if my noble friend decides not to press these amendments, the Government will be willing to return to them in a proper sequence in the correct context in due course and not use any procedural matters to prevent her continuing with this debate on the proper predicate.

My Lords, it is my understanding that we are now operating on the assumption that Amendment 31 has been consequential on what happened with Amendment 1. I draw the Committee’s attention to Amendment 31, which says:

“Insert the following new Clause—“Police Commission … There shall be a body corporate for each police area listed in Schedule 1”,

and that it,

“shall consist of … a police and crime commissioner, and … a police and crime panel”.

That provides the basis for discussing a number of amendments that concern the role of people who will now not be directly elected police and crime commissioners, but who will continue to have a number of functions to which the amendments, which include some tabled by noble Lords whom I see on the opposition Benches, apply. It seems entirely appropriate that we should continue to do that. A number of amendments in Part 1 also apply to the mayor's office for crime and policing, so there is useful, detailed business to discuss.

My Lords, this is ridiculous. Noble Lords know that the Government should have made a business statement at 8.30 pm to adjourn the House and allow the consequences of this to be fully considered by the Government and Opposition, and through the usual channels. It would have been helpful to have known earlier from the Chief Whip that Amendment 31 had been accepted as consequential. Clearly that is an important factor.

This is nonsensical. I am tempted to move the adjournment of the House. I plead with the Government at least to let us adjourn for 10 minutes to allow the usual channels to have a further discussion. I can see that I would win a vote on a show of hands. Surely the Government have the good sense to see this. Why are we going to waste an hour debating a theoretical amendment? It is ludicrous.

My Lords, there are a number of problems with Amendment 31. The first is that we have not debated it yet. We have not agreed it. Logically, if we are to have a structured debate, it should start with Amendment 31. The problem is that we would be debating Amendment 1 all over again.

Following the advice of the noble Lord opposite, I beg to move that the Committee do now adjourn during pleasure until 9.10 pm.

Sitting suspended.

I am going to have to crave your Lordships’ indulgence and ask if we can have a further adjournment during pleasure until 9.20 pm.

Sitting suspended.

Before my noble friend Lady Hamwee continues speaking to her amendment, perhaps I may explain that there has been a short Adjournment of the Committee’s proceedings so that discussion could take place as to whether we should continue. The Government’s position is utterly straightforward. Earlier today, a defeat took place. It is not the first time that a defeat has taken place on a government Bill. There is no reason why we should not continue; in fact, it is the Government’s wish that we should. I understand that some noble Lords who have put down amendments would prefer not to continue. It is entirely their right—and we would not complain—not to move their amendments this evening, but good order and precedent should continue and we should carry on with the Committee stage. I hope that my noble friend Lady Hamwee can continue with her amendment.

I accept what the Leader has said. However, the advice given to us earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, to perhaps take time to reflect on where we are on the Bill and the implications of today’s vote for the remaining amendments, was cogent and very sensible. When the House was adjourned a brief 12 minutes ago, it was agreed that it would be adjourned in order for discussions to take place. I point out to the Chief Whip that that is what was said. No discussions have taken place with the Opposition. I do not complain; I merely point that out as a matter for the record. I am perfectly happy to continue as the noble Lord desires, but I do not think that it is a sensible way forward. It would be far more appropriate for us to take time to reflect. However, the noble Lord is the Leader of the House and it is for him to decide.

I am not very confident of my knowledge of the procedures when we get into a situation like this. I simply say to the Government—and I recognise that I probably would not be their first choice as a political adviser—that there are aspects of the Bill which we could deal with very effectively and get through; for example, on drugs and alcohol. I am at a loss to understand why the Government do not proceed with that, leaving aside the policing bit for the moment while they decide a policy. The provisions on drugs and alcohol will get a lot of support. The Government could be well advised, politically, to split off the policing aspect so that they can take their time on it, and they would get a very good Bill on drugs and alcohol which I think we would all welcome.

My Lords, having heard the Leader of the House speaking earlier, I can see no reason why we should not start to debate Clause 2 of the Bill and everything that follows. It is merely Clause 1 that causes the difficulties. I urge the Government Front Bench, whom, I repeat, I broadly support on this Bill, to consider whether we might move to Clause 2 and invite those who wish to move amendments to Clause 1 not to move them at this stage.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, is trying to be helpful to the Committee. His analysis that it is difficult for us to debate anything in the Bill that relates to police and crime commissioners until a way forward has been determined is helpful. Clearly, Clause 2 does not contain anything at the moment about police and crime commissioners and there are a number of other clauses in the first part of the Bill, including Clauses 3 and 4, that do not relate to police and crime commissioners. So we could with due determination proceed with the Bill with those bits that are not affected by the decision that the Committee took earlier on.

However, there is one further difficulty and I would be grateful for the Leader of the House’s guidance on this point. We were told that the target for tonight was the group beginning Amendment 15. I suspect that a number of noble Lords worked on the basis that government targets on such matters are rarely achieved let alone surpassed. They might have wished to speak about amendments or issues subsequent to Amendment 15 but have left and would not be particularly happy if we were to proceed beyond that point without notice. Speaking for myself, I am always happy to talk on those matters that I have put down. However, it is unfair on those Members of the Committee who may have left on the assumption that the Government’s target—they are, as I said, rarely exceeded—was to reach the group beginning Amendment 15.

This process is enormously unhelpful, although I am sure that she can speak for herself, to the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee. She has an amendment about transitional arrangements. There is a useful debate to be had about transitional arrangements—whether it should be for a year, which I think is the substance of her argument, or whether it should be for a shorter period and how it operates. But it is difficult to understand how we can debate a transitional arrangement when we do not know what transition we are making and from what state to what state. If, for example, a very simple matter were being proposed, a transitional arrangement of a year might seem excessive. However, if a more complicated change were proposed, a transitional arrangement of a year might seem appropriate.

We are in a difficult position and the Government Front Bench has put the noble Baroness in a very difficult position by encouraging her to move her amendment when we do not know what that transition will be. If, for example, the Committee were to decide that this is all getting silly and that we should stop, I would be sorry that the substance of debating transitional arrangements should then be lost. But I do not see how the Committee can debate transitional arrangements when we are not even in a position to judge what state we are in transition from and to what future state we are aiming.

The government Front Bench must help the House and find a way out of this terribly difficult impasse. I appreciate that they might have one or two slightly bigger consequences of today's vote on their minds, but we are in a difficult situation tonight. It would be better for us to have some proper time for reflection and for the Government to have time for reflection so that they can let us know how to proceed.

My Lords, I endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Harris, just said. With my limited experience of the House, I think that we are debating a police and crime panel which is defined in the legislation, which has now become part of the police and crime commission, with much greater powers than it had originally. The police and crime panel will also be the police commission. It will have powers to hire and fire police chiefs and all sorts of other powers as a consequence of this change. But we do not know what we are talking about. We do not know whether it is an elephant, a tiger or what it is. We should think again.

My Lords, I support that idea. The noble Lord, Lord Harris, for whom I have immense regard—I respect his very great experience in these matters—was not quite right when he said that Clause 2 has no reference to a police commissioner. Clause 2(5) reads:

“A chief constable must exercise the power of direction and control conferred by subsection (3) in such a way as is reasonable to assist the relevant police and crime commissioner to exercise the commissioner’s functions”.

Am I right—

As I understand it, under our Standing Orders, we can only speak to a Motion. The Motion before the Committee is Amendment 13. My noble friend the Leader of the House has proposed the way that we should go forward and the Leader of the Opposition has said she agrees that we should go forward. If we go forward now, we have decent time to do at least one amendment and we might get on with this Bill.

I am speaking to the amendment to this extent—that I believe that the amendment is an utter unreality and that every other amendment in relation to Part 1 is similarly tainted and coloured. My argument in favour of that, and I speak from the neutrality of the Cross Benches—

I do not wish any evil whatever upon this House, for which I have immense respect. The situation, surely, is that there are these categories of provision—first, as regards any provision dealing directly with the police commissioner, it would be utterly impossible and absurd to debate it; secondly, as regards any reference to a police commissioner, again, it would be impossible to debate it; thirdly, as regards any implied relevance of a police commissioner, again, it would be wrong to debate it. It seems that no real, genuine and substantial debate can properly occur in relation to Part 1. I do not say that with any sense of pleasure whatever.

My Lords, as a veteran of many amendments and many losses, I am slightly baffled by this debate. The Government have presented a Bill to this House and it is the property of this House. The House has decided, in its wisdom, to vote on an amendment that has removed an important aspect of the Bill. Noble Lords have spoken and have agonised over the implications of that decision. The time to think about the implications of that decision is before you vote, not after.

It is a good point. However, noble Lords have done so, without thinking over the implications. We have an amendment before us. Noble Lords have said it is difficult—

I am going to finish my point. Noble Lords have said it is difficult to continue. Moving amendments in this House is not compulsory. If noble Lords do not wish to move their amendments at this Committee stage, they do not have to. They can reconsider them in the light of the debate. We will of course be returning to this Bill on Report. We have spent a great deal of time discussing the implications of a vote that took place some hours ago. I assert that we should have discussed the implications of that in that very long debate and not now. If noble Lords wish to down tools and go home early, that is their decision. I think we should continue with the Bill.

My Lords, the noble Lord the Leader of the House is being slightly unfair on the House. Noble Lords were very clear what they were voting for. They realised that if the amendment was passed, they were kicking a very large hole in this Bill. That was the decision of the House. What people are querying is the strange “band played on” mentality of the government Front Bench. You have hit the iceberg but the band carries on playing. No doubt, the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, wishes to remain at the wheel until such time as the “Titanic” sinks below the waves—you can see where the metaphor is going. My point is that I do not think it is fair of the noble Lord the Leader of the House to suggest that people were not aware of what they were doing. What we cannot understand is what the Government think they are doing.

My Lords, if I may speak again, perhaps the Leader of the House could help me by telling me exactly what it is that I am now discussing. I think that I am discussing a police commission comprising a police and crime panel that will elect one of its number to be a police commissioner that has no powers in the Bill, as all the powers in the Bill belong to other organisations. I am mystified as to what I am supposed to be thinking about.

The noble Baroness is generous in giving me powers, which I do not have, of knowing what it is that she is talking about. I dare say that what the noble Baroness is supposed to be talking about is the amendment moved by my noble friend Lady Hamwee. If my noble friend Lady Hamwee wishes to proceed with her amendment, she may and she can explain what noble Lords are supposed to be discussing. If she does not wish to carry on with her amendment and subsequent noble Lords do not wish to carry on with their amendments, the rules of the House are utterly clear: you say, “Not moved” when your name is called. We would then carry on to the stage that the noble Lords, Lord Soley, Lord Harris and others, wish to get to. This really is not complicated.

My Lords, could I seek one point of information? Given that, as was suggested by one of my noble friends earlier, we had a target of reaching the group starting with Amendment 15, if noble Lords did not wish to move their amendments in the groups preceding that group, would the Leader agree that we should finish at Amendment 15 for the sake of those people who are not present this evening and who did not expect to have their amendments debated this evening? Would the House then adjourn?

My Lords, the target is a sort of rough target in order to help the House. From other discussions that have taken place, I understand that the Opposition are fully briefed up to Amendment 18, but I do not know whether that is true. I would rather dispose of Amendment 13, which is the amendment that we are on, and see where we get to. It is nearly 20 minutes to 10.

My Lords, will the noble Lord the Leader give an assurance that he will give the Government’s position in relation to the earlier decision of your Lordships’ House on anything that we discuss from now? We need to know what the Government are arguing in the light of the earlier decision. The noble Baroness, Lady O’Loan, was asking that question. As the Government have suffered a defeat and the Bill has now changed, an amendment that we discuss ought to be discussed in the light of the Government’s position now. Therefore, we need the Government’s position to be spelled out even before we debate amendments.

My Lords, the Government’s Minister will respond to the questions posed by those who propose amendments. That is what happens when we deal with Bills at Committee stage. Nothing has changed. Let us get on with it.

My Lords, can we just have some clarity from the noble Lord the Leader? I am sorry to prolong this—I promise not to do so, or I give an assurance in the same sense that targets for amendments are given to the House—but can the noble Lord the Leader explain to the House why the government Front Bench has permitted us to debate an amendment that potentially no one in this House understands? We are talking about transitional arrangements, which are a perfectly valid area of debate, but we do not know what we are transitioning from or to. Under those circumstances, why has the government Front Bench allowed the debate? We are a self-regulating House. If the powers were invested in the Lord Speaker, no doubt we would have a ruling, which we would all of course at once obey. Under these circumstances, the noble Lord has to tell the House how he has reached his decision, and we have to understand it.

My Lords, first of all, this will not be the first time that the House has debated an issue that it does not know anything about. Secondly, it is up to the noble Baroness—this is not a government amendment—who owns the amendment to explain what it is for. Again, I say to the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, that this is really simple. If the noble Baroness does not explain it sufficiently well, the amendment will either be withdrawn, or voted on, or whatever. That is what happens. The Government will respond to questions that are put to them. I cannot be clearer to the noble Lord. I invite the noble Baroness to carry on from where she left off.

My Lords, I hesitate to say it but the House did hear from me some time ago, and I had actually got to the point when I had moved the amendment. However, as it is Committee stage, perhaps I can say another word about it, although it will be by way of repetition and the House is rather fuller than when I was last speaking.

I am not embarrassed at moving the amendment. I understand that there are difficulties relating to many other amendments, but clearly we know what we would be transitioning from—if “transitioning” is a word. What we are transitioning to appears at the moment to be a model that was not the model in our minds at the start of this afternoon as the likely outcome—

Would the noble Baroness care to pose the question that the Leader of the House said could only be asked by her? What do the Government now believe we are transitioning to?

My Lords, if I was not interrupted in the middle of the sentence, I would have tried to get to the end. As I said to the House about an hour ago, Amendment 31, which was in the group of amendments with Amendment 1 agreed by the House earlier, provides for a model of a police commission consisting of a commissioner and a panel. Amendment 31 is not my amendment, but I am reading what it says. Whatever model there is a transition to, it is perfectly proper and indeed required that there should be robust arrangements to ensure that the new model comes into being in a way that works. The point that I was making was that Schedule 15 provides for transition arrangements, but I suspect that although many of the implications of the transition will have been anticipated, it is unlikely that every single one will have been anticipated. That is not intended to be pejorative about the Government or the Home Office, as I would say it of any organisation dealing with a change of this kind. I take it from what the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, is saying that he agrees that some sort of transition period is not a bad idea.

That is all that I am suggesting that the House should consider. I have now said it twice, so I beg the House’s indulgence on that. The brief point is that we know the point and that, whatever the end game, it is not going to be that straightforward, so let us put in arrangements that we have learnt are needed from local authority experience, and use that experience to make that transition more smoothly than I believe the Bill provides for.

My Lords, I would like to speak to the generality of the noble Baroness’s amendment. I will not comment on exactly where we are; a period of reflection would be very helpful. She has raised a very important point. Assuming that the outcome of the Bill is that we move to a new system—we are not entirely sure what system it will be—the substantive question in the noble Baroness’s amendment is that there ought to be a shadow period of operation. I agree with that.

On the question of whether it should last for a year I am not at all sure. One has had experience of reorganisations and when new appointments are made when people think it is a good idea to have two people or organisations working in tandem. Often it leads to conflict because no one is entirely sure about who is in charge or not. From the Opposition’s side, I hope we will be able to pursue this, although I think that the Government’s Bill is rather dead in the water as regards elected police commissioners. On the general principle, I am sure that a certain shadow period is right, but I suspect a year is too long. We can have further discussions on this very helpful matter.

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lady Hamwee because this has been a fragmented debate and she has held it together well. If I have followed the various sections of her case, it is not unreasonable to say that there is a need for transition and, despite what happened to the structure of the Bill earlier tonight, when you move from one system to another—I am speaking in the generality—it is always good to have a plan that outlines the handover.

Where I have a little concern with the amendment is that I am not quite sure that the cost involved would not be prohibitive. My noble friend mentioned a year but we have not heard many details of what that would amount to in financial terms. It would have been helpful to the House—and perhaps to my noble friend—if we had had something more detailed for the House to consider and look at. However, Clause 99 and Schedule 15 cover transition and therefore there will be a further opportunity at later stages of the Committee for the House to consider this issue in more detail.

I hope my noble friend will feel able to withdraw the amendment. Clearly this is a matter of concern to her but she will be able to enlarge upon her views when we get to Clause 99 and Schedule 15 later in the proceedings of the Committee.

My Lords, I take the point about the year and the reality of such arrangements to which the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, alluded. It is a very fair point. It is also fair to say that I have not costed these arrangements.

My underlying concern is that as Clause 99 and Schedule 15 stand at the moment—although they may be open to amendment—they do not allow for any handover period at all. As I read them, they provide for a cut-off point and life changes at midnight, as it were. That is my real concern.

I was obviously not expecting to debate the amendment in quite the way that we have and it may be that, because of the circumstances, the Minister is not able to give more detail than she has. However, she is right. We will come back to the topic on Schedule 15. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 13 withdrawn.

House resumed.

House adjourned at 9.49 pm.