Committee (2nd Day)(Continued)
Relevant documents: 13th Report from the Delegated Powers Committee, 14th Report from the Constitution Committee and 11th Report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
Clause 1 : Police and crime commissioners
24: Clause 1, page 2, line 32, at end insert—
“( ) Each police and crime commissioner shall appoint a non-executive board of between four and seven members.
( ) Such non-executive boards shall work with the police and crime commissioners to ensure good governance of—
(a) financial,(b) staff, and(c) equality,matters, and to support the police and crime commissioners in respect of their functions.
( ) Police and crime commissioners may make such arrangements as they see necessary to remunerate and reimburse expenses incurred by members of such non-executive boards.
( ) Appointments to and remuneration and expenses arrangements for such non-executive boards shall be subject to approval by the relevant police and crime panel.”
My Lords, I will speak also to Amendment 58. I begin by saying that I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, for his support for the amendment. I understand that he is still abroad. The rapid pace with which we have gone through the first two days of Committee has confounded our original expectation that this amendment might not be dealt with until the third or fourth day. That is why he is not here to speak to the amendment.
Amendment 24 deals with police and crime commissioners, police and crime commissions or whatever else we might have. Amendment 58 is a parallel amendment that deals with the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime. The principle behind both amendments is to ensure that arrangements are written into the Bill that will ensure that there is good governance. The amendments follow the principle that we should use the best practice that we know exists in other sectors for the appointment of non-executive directors to support the general direction that is being set.
Amendment 24—and Amendment 58, which is exactly parallel but applies to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime—requires each police and crime commissioner to appoint a non-executive board of between four and seven members. In the context in which we are operating, in which we are talking about police and crime commissions, a duty would still be placed on the police and crime commissioner, as constituted under Amendment 31, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Harris, to appoint these non-executive board members. The task placed on those board members would be to work with the police and crime commissioners to ensure that there was good governance.
In the amendment, three areas are set out in which it is important that there is a very clear and transparent mechanism to support good governance in respect of the work of the police and crime commissioners or commissions, or of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime in London. The first area is that of financial decision-making. Again, this will depend on the ultimate balance that is struck in each case between the commission or commissioner, or the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, and the chief officer of police. I am working on the basis that the police and crime commission or commissioner, or the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, will be corporation sole and will have responsibility for major decisions such as the placement of contracts, financial allocation and a number of other serious financial matters. They will also be responsible for receiving audit reports and will carry out the functions that in a private sector company and on many public boards would be fulfilled by audit committees. In a series of areas where financial decisions are made, it is important that they are seen to be made not by an individual but in a good governance context in which other people are involved.
The issue of staffing is similar. Again, there will be appointments to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime or to the commission office where it will be important that the approach taken will be one of best practice and that there will be no question—as my noble friend Lord Hunt described—of someone appointing his or her chum to an office where they could end up setting the precept for a particular area. Again, it is important that there is a transparent and clear process with good governance. I suspect that there are many other staffing and human resources issues where the existence of non-executive board members who can deal with grievances, appeals and so on will be extremely valuable.
The third area that I identified in the amendment relates to the equality responsibilities that would be placed on the police and crime commission or commissioner, or on the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime. I refer to equal opportunities responsibilities and diversity. Again, this responsibility obviously could be exercised by an individual, but would be much better exercised with the opportunity for challenge by others, including non-executive board members. Some equality issues would involve looking inwards within the organisation of the commission or commissioner's office, or within the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, but some would be external and would involve looking at how the police service operates in that area.
In this respect, there are a number of ethical questions where having non-executive board members would be extremely valuable. The Human Rights Act places obligations on all public bodies to act in a way that is proportionate, appropriate and so on. Again, if this is left solely to an individual, the only outcome if there is a dispute is recourse to the courts. Having an ethical challenge mechanism built into the structure is important and helpful. The amendment also states that non-executive directors would be responsible not only for good governance, but could support the police and crime commission or commissioners, or the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, in their functions. That is deliberately phrased in a wide way, not in a way that requires things to be done in a particular fashion. It would enable certain functions or responsibilities to be delegated to support the work of the policing and crime commissioner or commission. It would enable individuals to be asked, for example, to investigate particular matters, issues or concerns from local communities, or perhaps to take an overview of particular concerns affecting those communities. An individual might be delegated on behalf of the commission or commissioner to oversee the way that stop and search is being used by the police force; or one or more non-executive board members might be tasked with looking at other specific issues. It is a way of ensuring that the workload of the person charged with this responsibility, whether the commission, commissioners or mayor’s office, could be spread and managed effectively. For that reason it is extremely important.
The amendment also makes arrangements that would ensure that these appointments, and the arrangements for remuneration of expenses, are subject to approval by the relevant police and crime panel. That could also apply in the Government's original model of the Bill. It would ensure that the other members of the policing and crime commission in the model envisaged in Amendment 31 would have responsibility for the oversight of the mechanisms by which these non-executive directors were appointed.
The reasoning behind the amendment is a desire to ensure that individuals do not act on their own. Clearly, if we have the model envisaged by Amendment 31, the policing and crime commissioner will act in accordance with a policing and crime panel and together they will form the commission. However, that does not remove the desirability of a requirement to have a non-executive presence in that structure. It would ensure that the elected members who are part of the policing and crime panel are leavened with other individuals who would act in a non-executive capacity. In circumstances in which a single individual fulfils this role—the Government’s preferred model—the amendment will ensure that that individual does not act alone and is not in a position where they can act capriciously. It does not undermine the principle that that individual is elected to fulfil a particular role in the Government’s model. However, it does address some of the concerns expressed by Members of your Lordships' House in this Committee and at Second Reading about ensuring that there is a structure around that individual which ensures that they cannot act capriciously. If you like, it is a bit like the Roman emperors who had around them someone to remind them that they were mortal. There is the danger that individuals who have this huge responsibility for perhaps very substantial areas of the country may lose sight of what is or is not reasonable. This is part of a structure of ensuring that they act reasonably, appropriately, proportionately and with the widest interests of the public at large.
That is not to say that I believe that if there was a directly elected policing and crime commissioner, they would automatically act capriciously; nor am I suggesting that the mere fact of being directly elected prevents it, or that your judgment automatically disappears because you are directly elected. I have been elected too often in the past to various bodies not to have that view. However, if you are a single individual whose checks and balances are remote and in arrears, you need that governance structure around you. If I were in that position, I would want to have it. I know of individuals who may find themselves in this position in future who would want to have that arrangement around them simply to ensure that there can be no question about the nature and quality of the decisions that they take, and that there is a structure around them that good governance follows.
That is the process that is envisaged in this amendment. The purpose is to make this work better and to avoid the concerns about the single individual. Even in the context of Amendment 31 and a police and crime commission, this is designed to ensure that that system works better. We all know of examples of organisations with executive members where the value of the non-executives who sit with them is extremely important in making sure that decisions are taken properly and that the right degree of external challenge takes place before those decisions are finalised. My noble friend Lord Hunt is very experienced in the health service—as am I at a slightly greater distance—and there are plenty of other examples. Even government departments these days have non-executive directors supporting the management board of the department concerned. Indeed, I believe that that was made a priority by the new Government, who perhaps wanted a different style of non-executive director from those which existed before, and who brought in some leading figures from the business community to fulfil the role. It is a concept with which the Government are familiar.
Again, the amendment is put forward to try to assist the Government to make whatever system emerges at the end of the strange sausage-making process that is our legislative system in this country work better. I hope that the Committee will support me in my belief that the presence of non-executive directors in this context will be extremely helpful. I beg to move.
I rise briefly to support my noble friend who has brought forward a thoughtful amendment. I like this approach which is very much about good governance. He has picked the right numbers of between four and seven, and the right topics, those of finance, staff and equality issues. The only thing I am a little uncertain about, and which we might need to flesh out if the amendment is accepted, is how these non-executives would be appointed. I have some reservations about the commissioner being able to appoint all of them and I am not sure how the process would work.
At this stage I want simply to say that my noble friend, who has a lot of experience, has also thought carefully about the good governance issue. On these topics, non-executive directors can be very good at blowing the whistle and spotting problems as they come up. They are also good at taking some of the pressure off the commissioner, particularly on staff and financing. In that role, non-executive directors can be very productive. I wish to support my noble friend.
My Lords, since 1997 I have been continuously engaged as a non-executive director or a non-executive chairman, so I understand the environment we are talking about. It is difficult to argue against the principle that has been put forward by the noble Lord in proposing his amendment. However, I have a number of reservations. It seems that four to seven non-executive directors plus a panel is getting a bit cumbersome. I understand the principle of the non-executives arising from the Cadbury report, the Hampel report and others. Businesses quite rightly find themselves almost being pushed into the mode of having to have non-executive advice.
It is the word “shall” in the amendment that bothers me. I assume that it is a paving amendment and I hope that it will be withdrawn, but perhaps it is a proposal for the Minister to take back. In short, I applaud the principle of non-executive advice, but I am not sure whether four, five, six or seven non-executives should be in place at any one time. It could be that the non-executives advise the panel rather than the PCC. In short, the whole principle of the non-executive is one to look at closely. I am not sure that it should be mandatory.
I rise to support the thinking behind this amendment because throughout the passage of the Bill through the other place I think that the over -centralisation of power in one person was encouraged. That concern remains. What can be done to ensure that there is due probity, audit, equality of opportunity in appointments and so on given the powers that the Bill currently is going to give to the police commissioner?
The context is extremely important. It is not clear to me where the commissioner is to be based, in what kind of offices and with what level of staffing. A close reading of the Bill indicates that this is perceived to be cost-neutral, that the costs of salaries will be subsumed within existing budgets and that grants provided to the police will supply the additional resources required. But it would help to have a discussion about how big the staffing support structures for the police and crime commissioner are going to be. We note that there will a chief executive and a chief finance officer. The consequence is that underneath those chiefs there must be some other people, and those other people will cost significant amounts of money. There is a real danger that we are going to end up with an alternative structure of bureaucracy being created which actually is not necessary. At the moment, police authorities are housed elsewhere, and get their supplies and support in other people’s premises. For me, therefore, this amendment is extremely helpful in that it identifies the fact that we need to be clear what the support structures are going to look like in detail for the police commissioner.
I take absolutely the point about the nature of the appointments. Who are the people who can apply and how will they be appointed? Perhaps I may suggest that the obvious thing to do would be to use Nolan principles. Those are used in so many other places that that is the right approach. There is the question, too, of audit. It is not clear from the Bill exactly what audit requirements will apply in practice to the management of the police and crime commissioner’s office.
There are therefore many questions around this matter which make me believe that there has to be a further discussion about the size, powers and nature of the panels and about the nature of any non-executive board, be it of four members or seven members or whatever it turns out to be. The precise roles of those board members need to be made clear, because they will be different from those of the panel members. The non-executive board is to do with probity in finances, equality and the way staff appointments and so on are being made. They are not full-time appointments; I am not even sure that they have to be substantially remunerated, although, clearly, expenses would have to be paid. The boards are different from the panels, which are essentially about the nature of policing and supporting the police and crime commissioner in that aspect of their work.
I give a guarded welcome to the amendment but it is part of a broader discussion about the police and crime commissioner’s office.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, did the Committee a service before dinner in drawing our attention to Amendment 62, where there is a specific reference to the staff of the police commissioner. It would be helpful if my noble friend in responding to the debate were to fill in some of the detail of what the Government envisage this staff to consist of, so that the Committee can have a sense of what the structure will be.
My Lords, in this amendment we are pursuing the issue of police and crime commissioners. Before I go any further, and in view of the doubts raised by two of the Minister’s noble friends earlier, perhaps I may ask the Minister to say whether the Government envisage the proposed police and crime commissioners being full-time or part-time positions.
The Constitution Committee of your Lordships' House in its report published on 6 May said that Part 1 of the Bill is,
“self-evidently of constitutional importance … From a constitutional perspective, the chief risk with Part 1 is that of politicising operational decision-making … In our judgement it is essential to ensure that any reform to the governance of the police does not jeopardise this principle”.
The committee also noted,
“the concentration of powers in the hands of individual police and crime commissioners”,
and said that the,
“Government must ensure that the values of pluralism, equality and diversity adequately inform the new arrangements for representation and engagement with communities by individual commissioners”.
The amendments that we are discussing would address some of those concerns by seeking to provide a police and crime commissioner, whether elected or not, with the help, advice, wisdom and support of a non-executive board of between four and seven members. One would hope that a police and crime commissioner would use the power to appoint suitable people of independent mind and approach, with differing backgrounds and life experiences, to ensure, working with the commissioner, good governance of financial, staff and equality matters, and to support the commissioner in respect of his or her functions.
The appointment of non-executives is an accepted part of good governance and common practice in both the public and private sectors. Indeed, the Minister has non-executives in her own department. They bring their own expertise to bear and should not be wedded to the ways and practices of a department, of an organisation or of an office. They are there to support but also to challenge, to offer advice, to question—including asking the questions that no one else is prepared to ask—to act as a critical friend and, in extreme, if they think that something is seriously wrong which the commissioner is not addressing, to make their concerns more widely known, or, as my noble friend Lord Soley said, blow the whistle.
The Government’s proposals put far too much unchallengeable power in the hands of an individual. They also, as was said earlier by my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, put that same power in the hands of a member of the commissioner’s staff whom the police and crime panel would have to appoint in the event of the commissioner no longer being able to carry out his or her role. The panel would have to appoint them, apparently, even if it felt that there was nobody suitable from within what would presumably be a relatively small number of commissioner staff. That is an extraordinary state of affairs which the Minister has not so far maintained could not arise and which makes the need for a non-executive board even stronger.
I hope that the Minister will recognise the strength of feeling on this issue—about the lack of checks and balances and the weak governance arrangements—and accept at the very least the spirit and intention of these amendments which have been spoken to so ably by my noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey.
My Lords, I am replying to the amendments but I wish to assure the House, as my noble friend Lady Browning has just said to me, that we are still in listening mode.
We all understand that whatever institutions are set up, how they will work in practice will depend on personalities, personal relations and the willingness to co-operate. I recognise that there is a great deal of experience and expertise around the House on previous workings of relations between police authorities and chief constables. I was talking to a chief constable some weeks ago and I asked him how often he spoke to the chair of his police authority. He said, “Most mornings”. That is a fair indication that it would not be total revolution if he found himself talking to a police and crime commissioner rather than to the chair of his police authority; it would be a degree of evolution. We also recognise that we are all concerned to put checks and balances in place.
Our main concern with the two amendments is with the word “shall”, as the noble Lord, Lord Dear, recognised. Our secondary concern, as with a number of probing amendments, is how much detail we need to spell out in the Bill. These amendments would compel the mayor’s office to appoint a non-executive board to ensure good governance, to provide support and to make provision for the remuneration and reimbursement of any expenses incurred by board members. We argue that the imposition of a non-executive board is unnecessary. If what is sought is effective checks and balances, that will come from a panel made up of local councillors, as we will be discussing under other amendments, and not necessarily from a board appointed by the mayor’s office. There is a risk of some duplication between the two, an issue that we all need to explore further.
The Bill already specifies that the mayor’s office must appoint a chief executive and chief finance officer to ensure propriety. They will be subject to established public authority duties, as are their equivalents in police authorities and elsewhere.
If the purpose of these amendments is to ensure adequate support, the Government are working to create a legislative framework that permits discretion for the mayor’s office and for police commissioners, however they emerge, in areas where it is right and proper for a person with a direct electoral mandate to make a decision. Our preference is for the mayor’s office or the police commissioner to decide how best to manage its support and secretariat functions. This could include a paid or unpaid non-executive board if that is what is thought best for good governance, or it perhaps might find an alternative.
I repeat that we are still in listening mode but request that for the time being the noble Lord withdraws the amendment.
Is my noble friend able to say how the Government would respond if the word “shall” was “may”? Potentially there is a debate to be had about the functions of an executive board and the police and crime panel and where they might overlap and where they might be different. Would the Government have a different response if the word was “may”?
The Government are prepared to consider a number of matters. We are about to discuss the relationship between the police commissioners, the mayor’s office and the policing and crime panels. How best one organises this and how the staff relate to those who look at the staff and check accountability—and what we mean by accountability in detail—will, I suspect, be discussed over the next night or two.
Before my noble friend Lord Harris of Haringey replies, could the Minister answer the question I asked at the beginning? In view of the doubts that have been raised by two of his noble friends earlier this evening, do the Government envisage that the proposed police and crime commissioners will be full-time or part-time positions?
I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, for replying on behalf of the Government and telling us that they continue in listening mode. That is always reassuring and I am grateful to the broadly positive response that he has given my amendment. In particular, he talked about making sure that there are adequate checks and balances. That is one of the themes that emerged at Second Reading and in the discussions of the Committee last week.
I acknowledge straightaway that I do not consider this to be a perfect piece of drafting. It is heavily influenced by me, although the Public Bill Office tried to remove some of the roughest edges. I am sure it could be improved. For that reason, it might not assist the Committee if it were agreed in precisely this form, but there are some important principles here. First, on the issue of “shall” versus “may”, I suspect that the need for robust governance arrangements would arise in precisely those circumstances in which a single commissioner in particular decided that they did not need some non-executive support. I am sure that a sensible individual in that role would want that support and that “may” would be absolutely adequate, but what of the very unlikely circumstance in which someone was elected or emerged in this office who was perhaps not as sensible as that? That is precisely why “shall” would help good governance.
It is also worth thinking about why this role is different from that of the panels. In the context of the Government’s original model, the panels in essence fulfilled a scrutiny role. They would also be party political bodies because they would all be local authority members. My experience of such arrangements, in four years serving as a member of the London Assembly, is that they are very political forums. I suspect that they would be so in respect of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, and I cannot believe that they would be different anywhere else in the country. An elected politician would come to meetings to be confronted by other elected politicians, many of whom would be opponents or from the same party. As we all know, your relationships with colleagues from the same party are often as fraught as your relationships with the opposition. In that circumstance, we would get a degree of what I hesitate to call slapstick or knockabout politics. Serious issues would of course be pursued seriously, but there would be a political context and the pursuit of political issues—and by and large it would be in arrears.
That is a different sort of role from the one that is envisaged in this amendment, with non-executives who would approach this not necessarily from a political perspective but from the perspective of achieving good governance. They would take part in that process before decisions are taken, rather than after. That is why there is a distinction between the work of the panels and the work of non-executives. Clearly, if we are in the mode of Amendment 31, as opposed to the Government’s original mode, you have a slightly different relationship between the commissioner and the panel because they are all part of the policing and crime commission. I suspect that some of the same principles apply. In any event, good experience exists both in police authorities and in other areas with non-executives. They can bring a non-political or a separate expertise to the fore and can challenge in a way that is not seen as being political. That is potentially extremely important. It is unlikely that the panels are going to fulfil some of these requirements—they would of course question poor governance, but only after the event. This ensures good governance before decisions are taken.
For the last four or five years, I have chaired, in essence, the audit committee for the Metropolitan Police Authority. I am not clear, under the arrangements that we have here, certainly in terms of the Government’s original model, where audit matters would be considered, particularly if they are difficult audit matters. I can certainly remember—I will not go into them tonight—a number of difficult audit matters that came before my committee. Where will they be considered, particularly if they challenge a decision taken by a directly elected police and crime commissioner? The context, under the structure envisaged by Amendment 31, would be different, but where would audit issues be considered and received?
In the structure that I am used to we have a separation. People who are part of the finance committee and who take part in those decisions are not part of the audit panel. Again, that is quite common on public boards and private company boards. That distinction is important. One of the questions I would like the Minister to answer—before I perhaps get round to withdrawing my amendment—is where, under the Government’s preferred model, or indeed thinking ahead, as I am sure they are doing, under the Amendment 31 model, they envisage audit being considered, and how they envisage it being considered.
The Minister talked about the significant role of the chief financial officer and the chief executive in ensuring good governance. Of course they would be dedicated public servants who would be committed to good governance. If someone or an organisation is not convinced about the need for good governance, where would they report? In local authorities the chief financial officer, the monitoring officer and the head of paid service have specific legal responsibilities that ultimately mean making a public report to a full meeting of the local authority. What is the equivalent in the Government’s preferred model for how the chief financial officer and the chief executive supporting a police and crime commissioner would respond to governance issues? The principle also still has to apply in the context of the Amendment 31 mode that the noble Baroness, Lady Harris, will no doubt encourage us to support later on.
The question of how these individuals are appointed has been raised. I would expect these appointments to be made under Nolan principles. That could be specified in the Bill. I look forward to the advice of the Home Office Bill team as to how exactly this might look. That is certainly anticipated. The check and balance that was originally written into this amendment was that those appointments would have to be approved by the police and crime panel. In the case of the London Assembly it would be approved by the London Assembly panel—the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime. With an Amendment 31-type policing and crime commission, again we would have to decide whether the police and crime panel approving the recommendation was an adequate arrangement. Again, that is something that could be looked at when we come back to it, if and when we discover that the police and crime commission has become the Government’s preferred model. If it has not, we have to have that clarity written into this.
The point has been made about the dangers of alternative bureaucracy and the size of the offices. We need to pursue those issues and, if there is an issue about a potential alternative bureaucracy, that is precisely the circumstance in which you need a non-executive challenge. Before I decide whether to withdraw this amendment, I would be grateful for the Minister’s response particularly on the question of whom the chief financial officer and chief executive report to when there are issues about good governance, as well as on the other matters that I raised.
My clear understanding is that the chief financial officer would be responsible for producing accounts, which would be published each year. I will have to take advice on the exact external audit procedures, and I will come back to the noble Lord with that as soon as I can.
I am grateful to the noble Lord for his undertaking to come back on that, but it is not simply a question of the audit. It is a question, too, of the powers that exist for the chief financial officer or a monitoring officer in circumstances in which a decision has been taken of which they are questioning the legality, either in financial or other terms, where they report what that process is. As far as I can tell, the Bill is silent on that matter, and in the Government’s preferred model that becomes a particularly difficult issue because you are talking about a single individual and, effectively, those officers are questioning the probity of the person who employs them. If it is a single person who employs them, there is no safety belt. Those very important issues must be clarified in any event, whatever happens to the rest of the Bill; if this is going forward, that must be clear. In a local authority context it is clear and there is a process, but it is not clear in this context.
I am grateful for the fact that the noble Lord has indicated that he is still in listening mode and for his assurance that he will come back to me on some of these points. For the time being, therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 24 withdrawn.
25: Clause 1, page 2, line 32, at end insert—
“( ) The police and crime commissioner must meet representatives of each local authority in the relevant police area at least twice a year to discuss the policing needs of those authorities.”
My Lords, the purpose of my two amendments in this group, which are Amendments 25 and 59, is to place a requirement—a must requirement—on the police and crime commissioner, or in the model of Amendment 31 the police and crime commission, and in respect of Amendment 59 the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, to meet representatives of each local authority in their particular police area,
“at least twice a year to discuss the policing needs of those authorities”.
The purpose of the amendment is to add to what is already envisaged on public engagement, while talking about the specific relationship with the local authority. Ever since the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 was passed, and in many instances before, there has been a recognition of the importance of the police service working with local government to deliver more effective policies in the local area against crime and disorder. We are all well aware that partnership on these issues works better than one service simply operating in isolation.
I have fond memories of my time as a local authority leader when I led the London Borough of Haringey, which covered Tottenham and in particular the Broadwater Farm estate. I become leader two years after the riots on that estate. I remember that there was a ritual when every summer the police commander for the local area would come and see me and say, “We are very concerned about what is going on on the Broadwater Farm estate”. I would say, “Well, we as the local authority are very concerned about what is going on in the Broadwater Farm estate”. Both parties—or both agencies, as this is not a party-political point—covered their backs in the event of something terrible happening in future. The police had raised it with the local authority and we had raised it with the police. What of course was necessary, which was where we got to even before the requirements of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, was to have a proper dialogue. There was collaboration between the local authority and the police to identify what needed to be done to resolve particular issues. Some crime and disorder issues can be very serious, like some of the issues around the Broadwater Farm estate, but sometimes they are much more mundane—they are about the quality of street lighting or about recognising that there is a particular issue on a particular street corner, where the local authority and the police can make a contribution to reducing the risk or fear of crime in that area. It is about partnership and working together. I know that is implicit in what this contains but we are in a slightly different environment, particularly if the Government’s preferred mode of operation goes ahead where we have a single individual.
My noble friend Lady Farrington of Ribbleton talked in far more detail than I possibly could about the arrangements in Burnley, Blackburn and Blackpool and the conflicts that might arise, and how one would not necessarily assume that the interests of those communities would coincide. I simply recall, from my time as chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, instituting a process of what we called borough visits to meet with each local authority’s leader and chief executive to talk about the policing needs of those areas. That has been carried on by my successors as police authority chairs. The current incarnations are called JEMs, or joint engagement meetings, but the principle is the same. It is about the importance of meeting the local authorities, not collectively but individually, to address the policing needs of those local areas.
I particularly recall the interesting experience when I attempted to do two of those borough visits on the same day. One was in a borough which was very much inner-city and faced all sorts of major inner-London problems. The other was in what I would regard as a quieter, less pressured area of London—very much a suburban area. In the morning, we spent a lot of time dealing with knife crime, gang-related violence and all the issues that were uppermost in the local authority world as well as in the policing world. In the afternoon, I was told that the biggest issue affecting that area was shed crime, with people breaking into garden sheds. I suspect that if you were in the inner-city part of London, you would be considered completely mad if you put anything of value in a shed at the base of a block of flats or even at the end of a garden, if you had such a thing. However, that was not regarded as the situation in a suburban area. You had very different approaches to what was needed from the local police service and what were considered as local priorities.
Setting a single set of priorities across the whole of London—I expect this would apply in Thames Valley, Lancashire, Northumbria or wherever else you might choose to be—needs to be informed by the concerns of local communities, and in particular by the contribution that individual local authorities can make where that series of activities is concerned. One debate we have had in this House, both on Second Reading and last week, has been about how to ensure that a single, elected individual, in the Government's preferred model, pays appropriate attention to all the areas for which they are responsible. In any event, whether it is a commission or an absolute paragon elected for a large area but who none the less recognises the importance of listening to every part of their area, that will be facilitated by a requirement to meet regularly with representatives of the local authorities concerned.
In many policing areas, I think we will find that there is a real problem of coherence. People describe London as being somewhere where everybody knows their part of it—as I understand it, there are one or two bits of London which would rather not be part of it; there are other parts which would be perfectly happy if those areas were not part of London, but I do not want to talk about that. The point is that London is enormously diverse; so is the Thames Valley. Even that strange entity, West Mercia, is a diverse area. This requirement to work with each local authority in an area is an important safeguard to ensure both that those communities are not forgotten and that whoever is in charge, whether it is an individual police and crime commissioner, a police and crime commission or, in London’s case, the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, is seen to be not only listening but collaborating and co-operating with all the local authorities in their area. Only through that collaboration and co-operation will you be able to make a real difference to crime and disorder in those areas. I beg to move.
My Lords, my noble friend has raised an important point. My title in your Lordships’ House is Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton, which is a district—a ward—within the city of Preston. However, in Ribbleton there are not exactly uniform views about what the priorities are. As a county councillor for that division of the county, I had to judge between different issues being raised by different parts of the community. I well remember a heated meeting where those who were aware of where drug dealers were operating were being asked to give the police access to their homes in order to watch and catch people. That applied to residents who did not live in the immediate area, but those who lived in the immediate area were, frankly, quite frightened about getting involved. It is very important that we recognise the local issues in terms of what the priorities are for local communities.
I am so grateful to my noble friend for raising this. It is critical that we allow a mechanism that is not top-down, where someone being elected on a manifesto based on A, B and C precludes people locally from raising issues that are of critical importance to their daily lives.
I wonder if I might follow that by bringing your Lordships back to policing as it actually happens. We now have the benefit of neighbourhood policing. People are invited to meetings with parish councils. They come along, identify their policing priorities and then take a vote among those present about which are the most important of, say, 10 priorities. That is then reflected in the way that the neighbourhood policing team is built up. The teams take their priorities from the bottom upwards.
Given the vast areas that we are talking about, even if the police and crime commissioner visited each district council twice a year, he would not have much time to do anything else—he would have to prepare for those visits and then act upon whatever he learnt. We are ignoring the fact that at district council level there is regular contact between the police superintendent for that area—or in some cases the chief superintendent —that those meetings are regular and that the police have learnt an awful lot about how things really happen. In addition to that, members of the police authority visit every district council, taking with them a superintendent and some officers, and they examine the patterns of crime in those areas in great detail. It is not a question of their not knowing where crime happens; they know exactly where the crimes are. This is then exposed to the elected members, who are able to answer questions. Any idea that this needs oversight from above and lots of activity departs from what happens on the ground. It would be worth people appraising what is going on now, rather than talking in somewhat abstract terms.
My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that the fear of crime in neighbourhoods is also a dimension? This may be unrelated to the actual level of crime. It is a factor that local authorities are able to bring to the attention of the local community. It is a two-way thing between the community and the police service. It is important for people to realise that their behaviour may be informed by lurid descriptions of crime in the popular press, which do not represent the reality in their locality.
I absolutely agree with that. I cite one case—that of Henley-on-Thames, which one of my noble friends has after his title. It was a community that could make a devil of a lot of fuss about things. One had to be very careful that the area did not draw in resources from places that were suffering far more and, on any objective analysis, deserved more attention.
My Lords, I add one point about the fear of crime, which is an extraordinary thing. As has just been said, it is not always related to the level of crime. The fear of crime has become much more widely recognised recently. However, even though it is more widely recognised, it has also undoubtedly increased. Not enough research is carried out into the fear of crime, its origins and who it affects. We have just heard that some of it may come from lurid stories in the press, but it also comes from the population itself. We have an ageing population. The fear of crime undoubtedly affects people who are on their own, people who feel that they are vulnerable, people from minorities, people who are disabled and people who just feel that they do not have the contact that other people have more. Even if we have a good connection with local representatives, something more is needed. We cannot sit there and wait for these people to come to us to find the answers. We have to be more proactive and reach out more to these communities. We have to involve them more. It may not be very democratic; they may neither stand nor be elected. We have to go to them and pick up their fear. We have to make them more aware of what is being done to protect to them, and that crime is in general falling.
My Lords, I shall speak to the amendments in my name in this group. In so doing, I point out that this clutch of amendments effectively relates to local government, as did the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Harris. In that context, I declare an interest as a vice-president of the Local Government Association. I am in excellent company. My noble friend Lord Harris is a vice-president, the noble Lord, Lord Shipley, is a vice-president and the noble Baroness, Lady Eaton, is a vice-president. Even the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is a vice-president—for the time being.
I shall just refer to the observations of the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, who spoke eloquently and aptly about what we might call the tactical level of policing. My amendments address the slightly more strategic level and the need for local government to be involved there. Both levels are of course very important. Amendment 68A seeks to require the police commissioner, or perhaps the police commission, to,
“consult local authorities in the police area and have regard for their views”,
in relation to police and crime plans before they are published, thus involving the local authorities in the policies of the commissioner or commission. Amendment 80A concerns the Secretary of State’s powers to consult before issuing guidance on a range of matters. This would again include,
“consultation with the relevant local authorities”.
Amendment 86A is concerned largely with information. It seeks to add “the relevant local authorities” to those bodies to which the annual report should be sent. Amendments 86B and 86C would enable the chief constable to attend public gatherings alongside the commissioner or commission and give a personal response to reports, in addition to any response given by the commissioner.
Amendment 91A contains a requirement to obtain the views of relevant local authorities on the police and crime plan and the precept. That is not an inconsiderable matter given that, as I have pointed out before, the precept in England will amount to 11 per cent of council tax and a higher proportion—15.5 per cent—in Wales. Therefore, it seems legitimate and, indeed, important that local authorities, among others, should be consulted about the precept. Moreover, who should be regarded as ratepayers’ representatives? It seems sensible to suggest that local authorities should at least be consulted about who should be regarded as ratepayers’ representatives. Incidentally, the Government are a ratepayer in various manifestations. It will be interesting to hear from the Minister how it is envisaged that the Government might play a role in this process, whether through the National Health Service or some other government agency.
Amendment 167A also seeks to involve local authorities in determining what neighbourhoods are in the relevant police area. It does not seem plausible that that should be determined by the Secretary of State without consulting the very body that is best able to determine what constitutes a neighbourhood, or that, given the size of force areas, it should be left to the police authority, however it is constituted. I am suggesting that local authorities should be consulted on that issue, not that they should just be the sole voice in making that determination.
Amendment 226A concerns representative bodies that the Secretary of State is required to consult on a range of issues. The amendment suggests that he should be required to consult also the Local Government Authority, the Welsh Local Government Authority—that should be “association”, not “authority”; it is a typographical mistake—and,
“any body representing police and crime panels; any other body the Secretary of State deems appropriate”.
Therefore, the amendment would not restrict the Secretary of State’s consultation but would encourage him to consult representatives of local government. It is impossible to consider an effective crime and community safety agenda without looking at the responsibilities of local authorities across a range of services which they provide. Whatever may emerge from this legislation, we will still have relatively small bodies of people, with or without executive responsibilities, covering very substantial areas in terms of geography and population. Those areas have local authority services ranging from housing to planning, transportation, environmental issues and education. Most of those services impinge in one way or another on the crime and safety issues with which the relevant authority, however constituted, will ultimately be involved.
This group of amendments is designed to ensure the closest collaboration between the different agencies involved, local government and the policing agencies, in conjunction with the powers of the Secretary of State, so that we have a holistic approach. Surely that is consistent with the policy of community budgeting, which used to be called Total Place, which envisaged looking across an area at all the relevant public services. In that context, it is surely important for local government to have a strong voice and, to a degree, to hold accountable the police service at the relevant strategic level of the local authority as well as at the lower neighbourhood and district levels, as the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, pointed out, which may be the concern of most people on a day-to-day basis.
I give strong support to this group of amendments. I regard them as particularly important. The reason why they are important will become clear if we think about our recent history, by which I mean policing in the 1970s and 1980s, and not just in London. My noble friend Lord Harris referred to Broadwater Farm. I went to Broadwater Farm. I saw the late Bernie Grant there before he was an MP and afterwards. I went to Brixton when the town hall there was virtually surrounded and the fires were burning; the councillors were trapped and almost prisoners. But it was not just in London. I went to the Meadowell Estate in Newcastle, where Lord Scarman also went. It was not about racism there. Clearly, racism in the police force was a particularly serious problem at that time, but Meadowell had no black people. The Meadowell Estate system had broken down. There were different problems there.
When I went to speak to one of the groups there, they were all women; not a man was there. When I asked where the men were, they became defensive and said, “Remember, there are no jobs here; there is nothing for them”. The women had taken over running the locality in that sense. At the time, I had an involvement in policing generally and was at one stage the shadow policing spokesman for the Labour Party. The message I got from going to many such areas, leaving aside the issue of police racism, was that there was an almost total breakdown between local authorities and the police. That had happened not just in London or other areas of high ethnic diversity but other areas.
If we go back to newspapers of that era, we read stories about concern among the police and the Conservative Party that if police and local authorities were forced to get together, there would be the very danger that we have been talking about under the Bill: that local authorities would somehow exert political control. That was the worry and the debate. As I said when the noble Lord, Lord Howard, was in the Chamber, that was when the Labour Party took the view that there ought to be elected police commissioners. I was very doubtful about that theory, and I still am, but it came about because of the breakdown between the local political structures and the police. We found in various areas, including mine at the time, that the police were very reluctant to talk to local authorities and, when the local authorities talked to them, it was often done in a conflictual way. The local authority would say, “Why don’t you do this?”, and the police would say, “This is our business, not yours”.
We will come later in the Bill to the other area that troubles me greatly, which is the lack of clarity about crime prevention. The key here is that we must never again go back to the situation that we had in the 1970s and 1980s—indeed, even in the 1960s, if we consider Notting Hill—where the relationship between the police and local authorities was, at best, non-existent and, at worst, hostile. If we go back to that system or that situation, we will get big problems again. It may be, as it was in Meadowell, a rundown out-of-town estate which has no jobs or it may be on the basis of ethnicity, but something will be the trigger for a breakdown. The lack of co-ordination between the police and local authorities will aggravate that, or indeed almost create it at times. It did create it in certain areas.
What is being asked for in this group of amendments, very wisely, is that we ensure that there is close co-operation between the police and local authorities and close consultation. In the 1970s and 1980s you were just trying to persuade people, including local authorities, that they ought to talk to the police. That is what the problem was then. Now we have got to a stage, which took many years and a lot of persuasion of both police and local authorities, where we can say, “Unless you co-operate, you cannot deal with crime prevention”. The argument at the time was strongly that crime prevention will work only if police and local authorities work together. It was a political argument on all sides, among academics and others, but on the street it was slightly different: “The police don’t represent us. What is the local authority doing about it? Nothing”. We ended up with conflict, hostility and a lack of understanding of the various roles. It is profoundly important that we never allow that situation to arise again. There are a number of dangers in this Bill, but I emphasise that there is a danger that we will create a separate structure that marginalises local authorities. Those local authorities will then become at best distant and at worst alienated from the police, and similarly the police from them. We must not allow that to happen.
There have been two great improvements in policing in recent years, leaving aside some of the detail on numbers and so on. One is the serious attempt by the police to deal with racism. They have been very successful. We still have a long way to go but we have done that extremely well. The other one was the feeling within the police that they could not really work with local authorities because if they did they might lose their political independence. That argument has been dealt with now. We understand it much better and how we need to deal with it. The lessons from the 1970s and 1980s—and the 1960s as well for that matter—are profoundly important in that relationship.
I strongly urge the Government to make sure that even if they do not accept any of these amendments, which are all basically along the same lines, they put something in the Bill to ensure that we do not drift back. It will be drift. There will be a drift back into a situation where the police and local authorities are looking the other way when the problems hit them.
In supporting the amendment, I thank my noble friend for moving it. I am worried that we will be told that since police and crime commissioners will probably do these things anyway, it will not be necessary to write them into the Bill. I anticipate that that might be the line of argument and I want to say that it should be included in the Bill to stress its importance. Policing is a major local service and, on Second Reading, I said that as originally drafted the Bill was an insult to local government because it left local government completely out of policing, which is nonsense. That is why I think that it is quite important that there should be some recognition in the Bill that local authorities need to be involved.
As we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, there are significant local partnerships at work. In the past 10 years crime has come down enormously—by more than 40 per cent. One of the reasons—not the only one, but a major reason—is the quality of the local partnerships that have been established. That is at the heart of what has happened in the past 10 years and we must continue with that. We cannot allow it to stop.
In a sense—this arises from the debate this afternoon—any police and crime commissioner wanting to do a good job will want that reduction in crime to continue. For that to happen, they will have to talk to local authorities, get involved in the partnerships and understand what is happening at divisional level, because, as we know, it is at that level that divisional commanders work with local authorities day by day. In my opinion, that is the engine room of local policing and it is why this amendment is so important. I know that the Government will not want to put this measure into the Bill but, in my view—and this echoes what others have said—it is crucial that this is recognised. I urge the Government to agree to this amendment because, clearly, whoever drafted the Bill did not recognise the importance of local government.
My Lords, I also warmly welcome these amendments, which raise an important issue. I declare my interest as the vice-president of the Local Government Association, and as a member of Newcastle City Council and one-time leader of that council. When I was the council leader, I strongly appreciated the regular attendance of the chief constable at meetings of our executive and at annual meetings of our full council. Indeed, one thing that I would not wish to lose here is local authorities having direct communication, contact and discussion with chief constables.
I regard talking to local authorities as a central function of being a police and crime commissioner. It is not a second-order part of the job. Listening, explaining and acting upon advice received strike me as absolutely fundamental to the role. Therefore, such meetings should be held at least twice a year with what may be large numbers of two-tier authorities. In some other areas, they might be held significantly more than twice a year, and I would welcome that very much.
It should be noted that the panels are not a replacement for that kind of democratic accountability to those who are elected locally. The panels fulfil a different function. The way in which they are currently constructed means that you cannot guarantee that every member—local authorities have only one seat—will turn up to every meeting. Therefore, the level of communication proposed in the amendments is exceedingly important in ensuring that the commissioners know what is going on in their police area.
My Lords, does the noble Lord also agree about the importance of the two-way communication that is part of the local government scene? I recollect that, following the Toxteth riots, I talked to the chief constable after a police authority meeting. I said, “My children have heard that there is going to be trouble in Preston on Friday night”. He said, “You are the fourth parent from the locality who has come to tell me that”. It is a two-way flow of information. I also explained to my sons that, as a member of the police authority, I would be watching what happened and would therefore see whether they defied me and turned up. The fact that it is a two-way flow of information is a very important point. Local authority members gain information which they can pass on to the police service to help it in anticipating and therefore preventing crime.
My Lords, this group of amendments deals with the need for close working between the police and crime commissioner and the local authorities within the police and crime commissioner’s area. Of course, the case for such close working was made at Second Reading, in Committee last week and again by my noble friends Lord Harris of Haringey and Lord Beecham and others in the debate this evening, and I certainly do not intend to repeat it.
I only add that the Government say that they want influence over decision-making, if not decision-making itself, devolved down the line as far as possible. That is the claimed intent of their Localism Bill. A new police and crime commissioner with considerable and largely unchallengeable powers covering an area as extensive as, say, the West Midlands could hardly be regarded as the standard-bearer for the Government’s claimed concept of localism and local accountability. One way of at least partially addressing that deficiency would be to go down the road of these amendments and place a requirement on the commissioner to meet representatives of each local authority in the relevant police area at least twice a year.
As has been said, local authorities and their elected representatives have a key role to play in reducing crime and articulating the policing needs and concerns not only of the local authority but also of those they represent. One would hope that police and crime commissioners would want to meet all local authorities in their area on a regular basis and work in partnership. However, perhaps based on our own personal experiences, we do not necessarily share the Minister’s view, expressed earlier this evening, on the principled approach that will be adopted by all those who are elected or appointed to positions of considerable power and responsibility.
These amendments not only seek to address that point but, as my noble friend Lady Henig said, by providing for such contact between the commissioner and local authority representatives in the Bill, they also seek to emphasise and highlight the importance of working together to reduce crime and reoffending rates and to achieve the goal of ever-safer communities. I hope that the Minister will be able to give a supportive response to these amendments.
My Lords, I begin by apologising profusely to the noble Lord, Lord Harris, because I had temporarily forgotten that paragraph 233 of Schedule 16 to the Bill clearly spells out that PCCs will be subject to the Audit Commission Act 1998, so that is part of the definition of “external audit”. I am sure that the noble Lord has already noticed that.
Many of us have been recollecting policing problems of years past. The noble Baroness, Lady Farrington, led me to have a flashback to when I was a university teacher in Manchester and used occasionally to lecture at the Lancashire police training college in Preston. The chief constable of Lancashire, as I remember him in 1969, was more politically incorrect in his language than would be acceptable for a police constable nowadays. That is part of the transformation in policing since then.
My Lords, the noble Lord may have forgotten that there was a slight cloud when that chief constable left the service. Since then, we have been served by a plethora of superb chief constables who would not have said a word that would have offended the most politically correct Member of your Lordships' House.
I am glad that that is all part of the improvement in policing.
The Government will reflect on this debate and the sentiment behind the amendment. As the noble Baroness, Lady Henig, said, the issue is what needs to be spelt out in the Bill. The amendment seeks for police and crime commissioners to consult local authorities in the police area before issuing or varying the police and crime plan, and to send a copy of the annual report to local authorities in the police area.
When I saw these amendments, I thought of my own limited knowledge of local authorities, local communities and the police. Clause 14 lays a requirement on the police and crime commissioners to obtain the views of the community on policing. It seems to me self-evident how they move forward. I have often attended the Shipley neighbourhood forum where local councillors and various people from the local community, including the likes of me, and local police officers talk about the problems of those communities. I should add that shed crime is a real problem in Saltaire. My allotment shed has been broken into twice in the past nine months. We are much concerned about it, although I am sure the police will not find the offenders. Stealing stone from walls and pavements is also a major problem in Saltaire, and as a World Heritage Site that really matters to us. However, more serious crime is not an immediate concern.
Neighbourhood forums and community safety partnerships are part of what brings local authorities together with others concerned with safety and order in their districts. My wife and I spent Friday afternoon at the Drugs and Offender Management Unit in Leeds, which is part of the Safer Leeds partnership. This is very much part of what we have all learnt to do, and I pay tribute to the previous Government for their efforts to build community safety partnerships and to encourage neighbourhood forums. Therefore, I start from the assumption that a police commissioner will naturally go first and regularly to those bodies when he or she is consulting the local community.
I was asked whether chief constables went to council meetings. They are not required to, or to engage in that formal way; they do so because they want to, and they will continue to do so. The question is whether we include a requirement for the police and crime commissioner to do so, or leave it up to them.
Clearly this is a question on which we need to reflect further. As regards priorities and different stakeholders, my limited experience of community safety partnerships is that they bring together people from the local council and from other services in a way that works extraordinarily well. That is part of what has contributed to the reduction of crime in our cities.
On this point, the danger is not that commissioners will certainly say, “I am not going to talk to them”; it is that we will drift back into a situation where they just do not do so. This is the case for putting this in the Bill. If we allow that to happen, it will not be that the relationships necessarily will be bad; I suspect that if one went back to the 1920s or 1930s, they were quite good at various times when those sorts of contacts were happening. However, we need to make sure that we do not go back to what was happening in the 1960s to 1980s.
I simply add, in response to an earlier comment by the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, that in the Bill the duty on police authorities to consult ratepayers is exactly the same as the current duty. There is no new dimension.
The role of police and crime panels is important here. They will include representatives of all the local authorities in the police area: district authorities as well as top-tier authorities where there are two-tier local government arrangements. The panel will have the power to require the police and crime commissioner to provide information and to attend a meeting of the panel to answer questions, to make reports and recommendations to the police and crime commissioner, and to require the police and crime commissioner to respond in writing to those reports and recommendations. These strong powers would be sufficient to allow local authorities to scrutinise and inform the ways in which the police and crime commissioner carries out their duties.
This is part of what we will be discussing: how the police and crime panel will relate to the police and crime commissioner, and the checks and balances between them. That will be part of the way in which we ensure that local authorities continue to play a useful and central role in representing local communities. However, I think that everyone accepts, as with community safety partnerships, that we have gained by including not only local authorities but other stakeholders in the local community. For these reasons, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.
My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who contributed to this important debate. I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, who reminded me that while at Second Reading I put on record my policing interest, in this discussion I should have recorded my vice-presidency of the Local Government Association. Indeed, it was the noble Lord in a previous incarnation who invited me to take up this post.
I am grateful to the Minister first for his comments on audit. However, I still do not think that they address the specific point about when something goes wrong. As chair of an audit committee, my function is not just to receive the external audit but also to receive reports from an internal audit and to look at them. Those are often more time-consuming and raise much more difficult issues, particularly in terms of the current administration. That is an issue that needs to be addressed.
The thrust of the noble Lord’s response has been that somehow the panels can fulfil this role. I do not think that quite meets it. I realise that I am in danger of trying to help the Government do their job in trying to make this legislation work, but there are several levels at which, as I understand it, they wish to make the police more accountable and listen more to the people. One of those levels is force-wide, and I am sure the panels will be helpful in that process.
I correct the Minister because I am also speaking to Amendment 59, and local authorities are not represented in the arrangements for Greater London. There is a panel of the London Assembly, so none of the 32 London boroughs is automatically represented in that process. The panel would be operating, perhaps, force-wide, but this is about the relationship at local and community level. Of course there is an obligation in the Bill to listen to communities, but this is about relations with the statutory body that is responsible for that local area and has a full range of responsibilities in terms of education, housing, planning, street lighting and all sorts of issues. It is about dealing with the body that has the statutory responsibility and with which you must have partnership if you are to be effective in dealing with crime and disorder. That is why there is a need for direct contact with the local authorities concerned and why it needs to be with individual local authorities, not collectively, because it is about addressing the needs of individual communities.
In the model where the police and crime panel operates, all local authorities, outside London, may be represented. It will be a forum in which one district is perhaps arguing about the resources given to another district or about the approach. This is about identifying the local issues and how the police can work with the local authority to help resolve them. I do not think that this is covered by a requirement that says they may do this. I think that it is one of the areas where it is a central responsibility in terms of making it happen and making sure that partnership genuinely works right across the area. It is of course possible that in the Government’s preferred model, as opposed to the model that this House is considering, you could get elected as policing and crime commissioner with votes from just one part of the area, or even two-thirds of the area, and decide simply to concentrate on that part of the area as opposed to the other. This provides a mechanism which requires that you must at least listen to and liaise with the voice of the local authorities.
I am sure that the Government will continue in listening mode on this matter. On the assumption that that continues to be the case, and given the lateness of the hour, it would perhaps be otiose to divide the Committee at this stage. I therefore beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment 25 withdrawn.
Clause 1, as amended, agreed.
House adjourned at 10.09 pm.