Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill
Michael Crockart (Edinburgh West, Liberal Democrat)
The amendment is probing, seeking clarification from the Minister on why a member of a police authority is required to stand down to be able to stand as a police and crime commissioner.
We must accept the great likelihood that candidates for the role of PCC will come from the present membership of police authorities and, indeed, other elected representatives. I am unclear, therefore, what clash of interests or responsibilities arises. Although such candidates would have to resign from a police authority, my understanding is that, even if elected as a police and crime commissioner, they would not have to resign as a councillor, although they would if elected as an MP.
The situation seems confused. More clarification would be helpful about why that type of candidate for that role should be singled out. In the House are serving councillors and Members of the devolved Parliament and Assemblies. There might even be an MP who is not only a serving councillor but a member of a police authority. Yet, under the Bill, if that person wished to stand as a police and crime commissioner, only the police authority membership would need to be resigned. I would welcome some clarification on why that role has been singled out.
Nick Herbert (The Minister for Policing and Criminal Justice; Arundel and South Downs, Conservative)
As my hon. Friend notes, the Bill will require a police authority member to resign from the post if wishing to stand as a police and crime commissioner—in the same way as a police officer, a judge or a civil servant must—because we look to the police authorities to continue overseeing policing during the transition to police and crime commissioners. They will need to be fully focused on that task, especially providing local political leadership in driving value for money. That and the transition process are particularly important for police authorities in the run-up to 2012 and the elections, and we would be concerned if police authority members spent much of their time campaigning.
The provision does not prevent any individual from standing; it merely requires people to resign from their role—a role that brings with it an allowance, paid for from public funds. I therefore think the proposition is reasonable. I hope that, on reflection, my hon. Friend will agree.