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Clause 1 — Police and crime commissioners

Part of Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:30 pm on 12th September 2011.

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Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 5:30 pm, 12th September 2011

On behalf of the shadow Home Secretary, myself, and all Members of the House, may I wish Mr Hogan-Howe well in his new role as commissioner and in the important job of work that he will have to do?

The issue of the politicisation of operational independence is important, but Members have also referred to the huge problems that will be caused by having one police and crime commissioner to represent such a large number of areas and communities. Despite that, the Government are reinserting the proposal in the Bill with no indication of how they expect such problems to be overcome. We have heard from Devon and Cornwall and Avon and Somerset about this issue of size, yet the Minister just says that it will not be a problem. We also learn from the Minister that he believes that the Bill contains proper checks and balances and that, therefore, the reinstatement of the provision is not a problem. However, he fails to point out to Members that the police and crime panel has only two powers. One—to be fair to the Government, they have amended the majority that is required from three quarters to two thirds—is the veto over the appointment of the chief constable, and the other is the veto over the precept. That is it. The police and crime panel has no other power. The policing Minister wants us to disagree with the Lords amendments on the basis of his assertion that the Bill contains proper checks and balances, but I say to him that the police and crime panel has only two real powers to hold the police and crime commissioner to account.