Police Reform Bill [HL]
Lord Renton (Conservative)
My Lords, I, too, support all three of the amendments. As the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, will remember, I wished to oppose what is now Clause 68 in Committee and on Report. However, in view of the full and candid discussions that we had then, I shall not oppose it any further. These three amendments would add clarity to the clause and remove doubts without changing the substance to any extent that the Government may worry about.
I shall briefly comment on each of the three amendments, the first of which is Amendment No. 31, moved by my noble friend Lord Dixon-Smith. If a person would not qualify for naturalisation as a British subject, surely it would be absurd to say that he would be suitable to be a police officer. That is why I support my noble friend's amendment.
Amendment No. 32 does not make a big change, but it does add clarity. The noble Lord, Lord Monson, simply suggests adding the words,
"who is resident in the United Kingdom",
after "nationality" in Clause 68(1), beautifully clarifying the effect of the whole clause.
As for my own amendment, the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, was very candid and fair-minded when he replied to us on this rather difficult matter. I did not think that the clause was well drafted. When I said that the word "may" went too far in relation to the qualifications mentioned in subsection (4), he pointed out that some of the people mentioned in subsection (1)—for example, a member of the Royal Parks Constabulary—are in a different position from those who are going to be appointed police officers. So my amendment clarifies the position and says that those who are going to have the responsibility of being police officers should meet the requirements set out in subsection (4), which I shall quickly mention. They are:
"competence in written and spoken English",
and to meet,
"requirements with respect to . . . immigration status",
"requirements with respect to nationality in the case of particular ranks, offices or positions".
Surely my amendment has the advantage of specifying which of the ranks should be regarded in that way. It is a very simple amendment which merely brings into relationship the provisions of subsection (1) and the provisions of subsection (4). I do hope that that will appeal to the Minister.