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moved Amendment No. 2:
Page 10, line 41, leave out subsections (3) and (4)
My Lords, I shall be brief. Following discussions with the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, the Government have agreed to remove the provision in Clause 17 that would enable the Secretary of State to attach conditions to the grant payment to SOCA. It is not unusual for such a provision to be included in the founding statute of a non-departmental public body, but in the spirit of co-operation, we are content to omit the provision from Part 1 of the Bill. I beg to move.
moved Amendments Nos. 3 and 4:
Page 11, line 12, leave out subsection (4).
Page 11, line 16, leave out "(including any proposed conditions under section 17(3))"
On Question, amendments agreed to.
Clause 61 [Offences to which this Chapter applies]:
moved Amendment No. 5:
Page 35, line 36, at end insert "which is a qualifying offence"
My Lords, the powers outlined in Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Bill will be vital tools in the fight against serious organised crime. The powers will be used proportionately and only for the most serious offences. These amendments signal the Government's commitment to ensure that there will be an appropriate seriousness test for the use of these powers with certain financial offences. They set a minimum threshold of £5,000 for offences under the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979, the Value Added Tax Act 1994 and the Theft Act 1968. I hope that the amendments will meet the concerns previously raised by noble Lords. I beg to move.
moved Amendments Nos. 6 to 13:
Page 35, line 39, at end insert ", which is a qualifying offence"
Page 36, line 3, leave out ", (d) or (e)" and insert "or any offence in paragraph (d) or (e) which is a qualifying offence"
Page 36, line 6, leave out ", (d) or (e)" and insert "or any offence in paragraph (d) or (e) which is a qualifying offence"
Page 36, line 6, at end insert—
"(1A) For the purposes of subsection (1) an offence in paragraph (d) or (e) of that subsection is a qualifying offence if the Investigating Authority certifies that in his opinion—
(a) in the case of an offence in paragraph (d) or an offence of cheating the public revenue, the offence involved or would have involved a loss, or potential loss, to the public revenue of an amount not less than £5,000;
(b) in the case of an offence under section 17 of the Theft Act 1968 (c. 60), the offence involved or would have involved a loss or gain, or potential loss or gain, of an amount not less than £5,000.
(1B) A document purporting to be a certificate under subsection (1A) is to be received in evidence and treated as such a certificate unless the contrary is proved."
Page 36, line 7, after "order" insert—
Page 36, line 8, at end insert—
"(b) amend subsection (1A), in its application to England and Wales, so as to—
(i) take account of any amendment made by virtue of paragraph (a) above, or
(ii) vary the sums for the time being specified in subsection (1A)(a) and (b)."
Page 36, line 9, after "order" insert—
Page 36, line 10, at end insert—
"(b) amend subsection (1A), in its application to Scotland, so as to—
(i) take account of any amendment made by virtue of paragraph (a) above, or
(ii) vary the sums for the time being specified in subsection (1A)(a) and (b)."
On Question, amendments agreed to.
Clause 110 [Powers of arrest]:
My Lords, I hope it will be acceptable to your Lordships that something more should be said on this clause and on this part of the Bill. The way the matter fell in Committee—the marshalling of the amendments and the way in which they were, for the most part, not moved on this clause—was something on which I sought advice. I appreciated, perhaps rather later than I should, that the only way for the Government to say a little more about this matter was for me to put down the amendment on the Marshalled List, which I shall duly dispatch in the expected manner. This is an important matter because there is hardly a more serious deprivation of liberty than being the subject of lawful arrest.
I appreciate, too, that the law is in rather a mess. Fundamentally, it was not my understanding that the Government really had to adopt the option which they did in relation to it. Looking back over our Second Reading debate and at the extensive debate in Committee in another place, from which one could hardly say a complete consensus emerged, I have to admit that I—and not only I but various experts in the field who have spoken to me about this—was rather surprised that this was not a matter which could have been left over for another Parliament, when I think we would have had a much closer and prolonged debate on it. The calendar, of course, is in the Government's arrangement, and certain parts of the Bill have been left aside because they are controversial. One of the points about putting this amendment down is that the Government may find, as time goes along, that the new pattern of powers to arrest is rather more controversial than they appreciated.
The two matters raised in Clause 110 are the powers of a police constable to arrest and the citizen's power of lawful arrest, without a warrant in each case. I touch briefly on the basic matters: we are abolishing the distinction between arrestable and non-arrestable offences. We are introducing a power for the constable lawfully to arrest without a warrant anyone who is about to commit an offence. That specifically includes any offence whenever committed, someone who is in the act of committing an offence or suspected of being about to commit an offence and where there are reasonable grounds for believing that an offence has been committed, so long as it is necessary to arrest the person in question. New Section 24(5)(e) provides that that includes allowing the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or—and I stress the disjunction—the conduct of the person in question. It deals not merely with the investigation of offence but investigation of conduct.
Commentary on this matter has already begun in the journals. I am sure that the Government understand that that is there. I should like to refer to just one of the articles which are appearing and are about to appear. Professor Spencer of Cambridge, an ex-colleague of mine, who is not to be lightly brushed off as some extravagant gadfly on the law and is a very serious authority, has suggested that,
"the power to arrest will be limited, in theory, in that it will 'only' arise if one of a list of conditions is present. But the limitation is illusory, because the list contains 11 items, one of which is 'to allow the prompt and effective investigation of the offence or the conduct of the person in question'. It will be a rare case indeed in which one of these conditions"— such as that one—"does not exist".
Although Professor Spencer agrees that it is desirable for us to move forward and modernise, as the Home Office has put it, the law on arrest, both for constables and non-constable citizens, he questions seriously whether the Government's position on the matter is right in any respect. Having read all the proceedings, I have not really found a clear statement of the justification for moving at such speed and in such a direction on this matter. I therefore offer the Government an opportunity of saying something fundamental on the issue.
For instance, Professor Spencer says that the Government have promised that,
"after the Bill is passed, it will put limits on the . . . powers of the police by issuing a new code of practice".
But, he says, this is deeply unsatisfactory:
"What the government is telling Parliament, in effect, is this: 'Vote to extend police powers now—and trust us to impose some limits afterwards'".
That is put in the manner in which the author normally puts his points—rather directly.
"In a democracy that respects the rule of law, the limits of coercive powers like these should be laid down in primary legislation, not in codes, written and rewritten as each new Home Secretary sees fit".
On the brink of an election, the power of the last words is immediate.
It is difficult to understand what traumatic damage to the social fabric would have been caused if a reform of this area of the law, which everyone agrees needs rethinking, had been left for a short or medium term in which much more profound debate could take place. With great respect to the other place, which spent some time on this issue on
Of course, similar criticisms are being made about the citizen's power of arrest. The new citizen's power of arrest for any offence will include one where the person is in the act of committing an indictable offence:
"Anyone whom he has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be committing an indictable offence", or guilty of an indictable, offence and it is necessary to arrest the person.
Professor Spencer offers some thoughts on that new power, which goes far beyond breach of the peace and the like, in saying that,
"the Bill proposes to extend the existing power to cover all indictable offences, and limit the power, of the non-constable,
"for the suspect to be restrained or detained. For the citizen out of uniform, this new package would be as obscure and unhelpful as the present law. Unless they have law degrees, 'have-a-go heroes' do not know which offences are indictable, and which are not— or indeed—
"which ones are punishable by five years' imprisonment".
He suggests that this particular reform will create a great deal of danger for people who think that they can operate their powers as a non-constable citizen.
Therefore, I wish to raise two issues with the Government. The first that I have raised is why push this particular package through? My understanding, and my noble friend will correct me if I am wrong, is that the review of the PACE statutory powers did not require the Government to adopt this option. It is their choice and a great number of technical problems arise other than those that I have mentioned.
Secondly, it seems very strange for the power of arrest to cover all offences, serious or trivial. I understand what my noble friend on the Front Bench said in Committee. She said that the Government will come out with the new code of practice,
"so there will be an opportunity for debates and consideration of those issues".—[Hansard, 5/4/05; col. 639.]
Those are the issues that were raised in connection with the power of arrest. I should have thought that such a fundamental issue as deprivation of liberty without breach of the law on the part of the person doing it would have required fundamental debate of all the issues, including the necessity of the arrest—of which particular criticisms can be made, whatever the code of conduct—before the legislation went on the statute book.
I do not see how it would be a breach of any of the Government's obligations. Was this a manifesto commitment? It does not seem to have been. Why push this through now? We know that parts of this Bill are not being pushed through now because they are controversial. The fact that people in the other place and here have not spotted the controversy is not now open to the Government because I am pointing it out to them. This is very controversial: it will be controversial in the literature and in practice.
There is a final point which authors are raising immediately. Academics are allowed to raise points these days about ordinary people—they are rather ordinary people, especially academic lawyers. They are saying, with some seriousness, that the relationship between the police and ordinary people in the public is precious. If the new powers are more likely to give rise to mistakes—and I have every sympathy with someone who has to exercise them and avoid mistakes—surely it should have been argued out in much greater detail and not put into the calendar of the general election. It is not really suitable to be rushed through.
That expresses a strong view of my own, but I rely on those writers who are writing about the matter rather more critically than the Government have yet appreciated. Naturally, I look forward to the response of my noble friend on the Front Bench and hope that she will give us some rather better reasons for what has been done. I beg to move.
My Lords, I am happy to give a fuller explanation and I am sorry that we are doing that so late in the day.
The proposals in Clause 110 focus on simplifying the current complex array of arrest powers which has developed since the introduction of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act over two decades ago. My noble friend was right to raise the issue of the review because we think that the provisions reflect one of the primary recommendations of the review of PACE carried out in November 2002 by the Cabinet Office and the Home Office in consultation with stakeholders.
The review recognised the need for greater clarity and definition of arrest powers. It made a number of suggested changes around definition and lists of offences, but the more substantive recommendation was for more radical ideas about expanding the scope to arrest and to consult on those proposals. That is what we have done. The consultation paper on modernising police powers, published last autumn, set out this new approach which simplifies, both for the police and the public, the powers of arrest but which, importantly, also maintains key safeguards and protections for the public. We understand and are aware of the need for safeguards and protection.
In doing so, we have sought to enable the arresting officer to consider the individual circumstances of each case—to look at the needs of the victim, the nature of the offence, the requirements of the criminal justice system and the circumstances of the offender. This is where the concept comes in.
Section 25 of PACE currently provides a constable with a general power of arrest for any offence. In making use of the power, a constable is required to consider the conditions set out in the Act and is required to make a judgment in each case. The framework powers of arrest for arrestable and serious arrestable offences under Section 24 of PACE remove the arbitrary decision on whether arrest is possible, but it still remains a decision of the officer on the street whether there are legitimate grounds to exercise that power. The necessity test would raise the level of accountability of the arresting officer in each individual arrest situation and minimise the ability for arbitrary interference.
During the passage of this Bill, both in this House and in the other place, concerns have, as my noble friend rightly said, been raised that extending the power of arrest to all offences might lead to a significant rise in the numbers of arrests being made as people are arrested for minor crimes. We are not suggesting that the seriousness of the offence is not a consideration when a constable decides to make an arrest. But it is not the sole consideration. Rather it is just one of a number of necessary factors which should be taken into account.
However, these powers must be proportionate to the offence. That is why we are producing a new PACE code of practice on arrest which will amplify the reasons justifying an arrest of a person. The code will be drafted in consultation with a range of stakeholders and will be subject to the draft affirmative parliamentary process.
As my noble friend identified, this clause also deals with the powers of arrest for persons who are not constables by inserting a new power into PACE in Section 24A. Similarly, we are looking to provide clarity in this area by indicating that a person other than a constable may arrest in those circumstances where it is necessary to prevent harm or injury, loss or damage to property or the person is making off before a constable can assume responsibility. Additionally, the person must be satisfied that it is not reasonably practicable for a constable to make the arrest instead. All of those are within the ken of the normal, average citizen.
In the other place, we tabled an amendment that the so-called "citizen's power of arrest" was applicable only in relation to indictable offences. The amendment was tabled in response to concerns expressed during the public consultation exercise and in the other place that the citizen's power of arrest should not be extended to minor offences.
The rationalisation of powers in this whole area represents a significant change to PACE and the framework of arrest. That is not done lightly nor without significant consideration that it improves and enhances the existing structure. We believe that it does and that view is supported by a large number of respondents to the public consultation exercise. We also believe that we are proposing a new structure that is proportionate and balances the needs of the police while protecting the rights of the individual.
I hope that, given that full explanation, my noble friend will be content that the course that we have taken is appropriate. We shall have an opportunity to discuss the matter when it comes back by way of affirmative resolution. There will also be discussion with all the stakeholders, who, I am sure, will make their views on the provisions crystal clear.
My Lords, will it be a defence for an individual who carries out a citizen's arrest, believing mistakenly that the offence that he is preventing is an indictable one, to argue that the law is hazy or unclear on the precise dividing line between indictable and non-indictable offences?
My Lords, the noble Lord will know that defences are set out in the jurisprudence that we have and in the statutes and that anyone can take advantage of those defences and no other. As I made plain, the measure was not originally in the Bill; it was brought in because there was a strong feeling among noble Lords opposite, Members in the other place and people elsewhere that there had to be some sort of benchmark to differentiate between minor offences and more serious ones. But it is also plain, if one looks at the type of situations when an individual may feel it appropriate to arrest—I have already identified those—that they fall into the more serious category as opposed to the minor. I invite my noble friend therefore not to press his amendment.
My Lords, yesterday, I spoke at length about custody sergeants and the need for them to retain that substantive rank in custody suites. I return to this because the answers given by the Government were wholly unsatisfactory.
None of the real concerns expressed in stringent terms by the police was addressed. I was deeply disappointed to hear that the Conservatives in another place have decided to accept the Government's position on nothing more than a promise that whoever is chosen to go into the custody suite will be well trained and held in sufficiently high esteem by their colleagues to perform their duties. What on earth does that mean? What does a person have to exhibit before he or she is deemed to be held in such high esteem? Who will watch over those new appointees and judge whether they will be suitable to hold people in custody—and, more, that they will be under the full power of PACE? Can the IPCC—the Independent Police Complaints Commission—investigate complaints against civilian custody officers? If so, how will that be publicised, so that a person held in custody will know that they have the protection of that law?
I contacted the Police Superintendents' Association this morning and got its views. Thinking back to the time before the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984—the time of Judges' Rules and so on—they remembered a time, as do I, when many abuses were carried out regarding the detention of suspects. PACE was necessary to codify what the police should and should not do with suspects. The linchpin of all that was that custody officers, who have protection in law for their decisions taken in support of the Act, were able to have the strength of the law behind them, even if it meant speaking out against senior investigating officers, who might want to interview a suspect against the requirements of PACE.
The service respects that independence, and I was told that senior detectives had accepted custody officers' decisions when clearly they had been unpopular. The new provisions do not provide anything like the proper independent statutory role for this post. A member of police staff—a civilian custody officer—may not have the same authority with senior investigating officers as a police colleague would do. I am fearful that it will not be long before we reap the whirlwind that that might unleash.
Custody, surely, is part of the investigative process. Many crimes have been detected in custody suites, and what I fear is behind the Bill is the aim that a custody suite will be enabled to be operated by a private company. I am sure that I do not need to elaborate on the problems that that might cause.
Yesterday, I listed a range of important players in the police field who have expressed deep concern about this part of the Bill—bodies such as the Police Federation, the Police Superintendents' Association, Liberty, the Law Society, Centrex, and so on. Even at this late hour, I ask the Government to reconsider their position.
Yesterday, the Minister told us that Customs officers and others had similar expertise. I should like to know how many people Customs officers "and others" have held in their custody and under what regulations. Were they subjected to PACE regulations, as well? When will all the training for those "other" people take place, and what happens in the lacuna before that training is completed? In my experience, different applications of training standards apply across the individual police forces, with the result that national standards are not always adhered to. Those standards ought to be crystal clear and certainly understood before the Bill is enacted. Who will be the independent evaluator of the pilot studies? Will we have the opportunity of seeing that evaluation and assessing for ourselves whether the pilots have been successful?
It is simply not right to keep telling us that it is to be a new and different agency from traditional policing. It is still going to deal with crime. The whole area has been so badly thought out and flies in the face of such strong policing opposition that I hope that the Minister will reconsider her position on the use of civilians as custody officers. I beg to move.
My Lords, I shall be brief in supporting my noble friend Lady Harris.
I served as a member of the Police Complaints Authority, and it was at this time that I came into close contact with custody officers in police cells. In cases when violence or death in custody were being investigated, the first point of contact was always the custody sergeant. The responsibility for what happens in custody suites is very heavy, and the Police Federation is right to criticise the Government, because no civilian without the type of training that a sergeant receives can carry out his or her duties satisfactorily.
Only a few minutes ago, I received an e-mail from a member of the Police Federation. The crux is that the Police Federation believes, according to this particular member, that the measure,
"will have a detrimental effect on the care and custody of prisoners. It is vitally important that this remains a role carried out by fully sworn, experienced police officers".
The question that my noble friend Lady Harris posed concerned the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and its relationship to custody officers. It would be very helpful if the Minister were to explain whether civilian custody officers would form part of the Independent Police Complaints Commission's machinery; in other words, can an individual make a complaint about a civilian custody officer? What processes and procedures will be in place to make the public aware that that can be done?
The police have paid out millions of pounds in compensation where cases have been taken up not by the Independent Police Complaints Commission but where cases have been brought in the civilian courts long before the IPCC or the PCA had the opportunity to consider them. What would be the position of civilian custody officers if cases were brought against them by suspects who considered that they had been violently treated or had not received appropriate treatment? We need to clarify those questions at this stage.
My Lords, I too would like to support the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Harris, as I did yesterday. Indeed, I have very little to add to what I said then. I simply emphasise that this matter is of serious concern to the police themselves. I also emphasise the point that SOCA will not deal with civilian complaints, civil matters, but with hardened criminals. It will be necessary to have experienced people to deal with that kind of work. My noble friend Lord Clarke started when he heard mention of a privatised suite, as did I. It seems to me that we are privatising a service which has previously been properly and efficiently handled by the police. It will be handed over to civilians who, no matter what training they have, will not have the same authority and experience of criminals as have the police. Our discussion now and, indeed, our previous discussion on Amendment No. 14, which was moved by my noble friend Lord Wedderburn, shows that that is the case.
I did not intervene in the discussion on the previous amendment as, frankly, the whole issue was so complicated that it was difficult to grasp it in the short time available. That is happening with the amendment which we are currently discussing, has happened with many other amendments which we have discussed and with other matters which we shall not discuss. It is a disgrace that we are pushing this important Bill forward with such haste and with so little scrutiny by this House of the many matters contained in this Bill with its 174 clauses and 18 schedules. It is an abuse of parliamentary procedure.
I repeat what I suggested yesterday; namely, that we should not have allowed the Bill through. It should be returned to the House of Commons after the election and given a formal passage through all its stages and then it should be sent back to this House to enable us to discuss it properly. I support the amendment.
My Lords, I should underline very clearly that the Bill has been fully scrutinised in the other place. There was proper debate and anxious consideration of it. We have spent considerable time exploring the issues both on Second Reading and in Committee. Therefore, I shall not weary the House by repeating everything that I said yesterday in replying to the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Harris, or in replying to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia. However, I should like to deal with a couple of points that they identified as being still of concern in relation to the IPCC.
The noble Baroness asks what we are going to do about complaints regarding non-police officers who take up the role of custody officer. Part 2 of the Police Reform Act 2002, which set up the IPCC, gives the commission oversight of the investigation of complaints against police officers and police staff. In addition, noble Lords will know that, as now, police authorities, as the employers of police staff, are liable for any wrongful acts committed by such staff. That will also be the case with civilian custody officers.
Looking at the general position, I emphasise that the proposals in the Bill do not remove the ability for a police sergeant to continue in the role of custody officer. We very much recognise the contribution made by uniformed sergeants to the post and the effective and efficient operation of custody suites. We do not want to lose that experience or those skills. In the Bill we are providing a capability for others who have demonstrated that they have the appropriate skill to discharge this function to do so. I said yesterday, and I repeat, that there is provision for appropriate training before any individual could be entrusted with this role. We have spoken about Centrex's role and the guidance.
I remind the House that PACE itself sets the benchmark for how an individual should be treated when detained in a custody suite after arrest. Those provisions will apply as strongly to any new custody officer as they have always applied to those who are detained.
I appreciate the anxiety expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Harris, and what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia. However, this is a new body. It will have to be properly integrated. I would not be surprised if in the first instance the majority, if not all, the custody officers who join SOCA come from the police. However, we are not putting in place provisions for what happens now, this year or next year but for the long-term development of the agency. Over time, a number of people will enter the agency who will be, or may be, fitted for that role by virtue of the experience of having worked within it. It is important for us to remember that.
I say to the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, that there is no question of privatisation of the role of custody officer. We are talking here about enabling chief officers—I emphasise that—to appoint to that role police staff employed by the police authority. Therefore, there is no reason for there to be concern that somehow something will be inappropriately done.
I hope that with that further explanation the noble Baroness will think it appropriate not to press her amendment.
My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for attempting to ameliorate some of the harm that has been done in this Bill. Sadly, her arguments do not persuade me one little bit. Custody sergeants were always going to be my cause célèbre.
For instance, how is the noble Baroness going to ensure that national training standards for this very important role are going to be rolled out and used in exactly the same way in every police force in the country? They have not been so far. As I said earlier, national standards, while they apply, have been used differently in different police forces. There is still no way of getting around that.
I certainly have not been persuaded by the arguments that the Government have put forward. Therefore, I beg leave to test the opinion of the House.
My Lords, we have already heard some impressive speeches this afternoon. I immediately express my apology for not having been able to be present in Committee yesterday, but I was present at Second Reading. I feel extremely strongly about the issue, and I shall be brief.
The noble Lord, Lord Wedderburn, and my noble friend Lady Harris of Richmond have drawn attention to the fact that, in the Bill, there are a number of unrealised and insufficiently appreciated elements that will have a major effect in our society in years to come. One of them concerns demonstrations and whether they can be held within the ambit of Parliament Square and the areas that traditionally in this country have been the centres of demonstrations for many decades.
Either on grounds of security—not necessarily justified—or even on arguments of tidiness, we are gradually seeing the colour and the vivacity of our democracy leeched out. Many of us are conscious that we live in a society that feels much less free than it did 10 or 15 years ago. We always have to ask whether it is necessary to take such steps. In these clauses, it is not necessary to do so. Let me say one or two quick words about that.
Demonstrations are a crucial safety valve—a way in which our fellow citizens can express their indignation, anger or disgust at government policy. I say that about all governments at all times. It is crucial to allow our fellow citizens to demonstrate peacefully because, if we make that extremely difficult, sooner or later they will demonstrate non-peacefully. That is the lesson from many other societies.
Let us look at the examples of two recent great demonstrations. Both were great credits to our democracy, and both saw Parliament as their target and the hub of their protest. The first was the great Iraq march, in which many of us took part. It brought home to the Government the extent to which many of our fellow citizens felt deeply concerned about that war and the arguments leading up to it. The second, from a very different part of the political spectrum, was the Countryside Alliance demonstration. It was widely rumoured in the press to be likely to get out of hand, but was actually conducted with extraordinary courtesy and restraint.
It has been a credit to our democracy that, on both sides of the political spectrum, such demonstrations have been held, to the great admiration of many other parts of the world. It might be said by the Government, "There is no reason for you to object. After all, we are still going to permit demonstrations". However, they will be demonstrations so controlled and capricious that it would be very difficult for them to take place within the "designated area" with any degree of true freedom. I shall give three examples.
First, the designated area is much wider than it need be to protect the Houses of Parliament. It is simply ludicrous that the designated area as it stands—I am not clear exactly where it will run—includes almost all the areas of traditional demonstration in London, such as Whitehall, the Embankment and Parliament Square itself. Then there is a question about whether Trafalgar Square is in or out; it is certainly within a kilometre of the Houses of Parliament.
Secondly, there is some uncertainty about the degree of notice required. Will it be six days except in exceptional circumstances, and how does one define those? Will the exceptional circumstances be widely recognised so that anyone dealing with a demonstration about a recent event—something new that has happened or an announcement by the Government—would be permitted to go ahead?
Thirdly—this was hardly debated at all in Committee, and not debated much in the other place—huge uncertainty is constituted by Clauses 134 and 135, which are rather innocently described as supplementary provisions. If I understand them properly, they allow, amazingly, any "senior police officer"—defined as the most senior person in any group who happens to be present at the time, which often may be a constable or someone only a little more senior—to change, vary or add to the conditions. Those are the very conditions laid down by the commissioner of police that have required notice to be given.
That is intolerable. It means that a decent organiser of a demonstration will not know until he is actually involved in it precisely what conditions have to be met by those whom he has organised to take part in it. That would not be so serious were it not for the scale of the punishment that would be visited on him or her if he or she got it wrong or was unable to change what the demonstration did at what may be the very last moment. Those sentences include 51 weeks of custody or a level 4 fine—the kinds of punishment that we normally reserve for people who have committed some substantial crime in the ordinary world.
Do we really want to put police officers in a position in which they vary and change conditions at such a high price to the genuine citizen taking part in a demonstration? That will gradually drive people away from the designated site altogether, which is far from desirable because—bluntly—it is important that Parliament feels in itself the anger and indignation of its fellow citizens and does not try to encapsulate itself from any such inconveniences. We worry about the gap between Parliament and the people; the Bill will widen that gap yet further, completely unnecessarily.
In conclusion, all of us in the past few weeks have hugely admired the amazing demonstrations in the Ukraine against rigged elections, which went right up to the doors of the parliament and which brought about, totally non-violently, the change in the Ukrainian regime and the ushering in of genuine democracy. We have admired the demonstration of tens of thousands of people in the Lebanon, calling for the Syrians to leave. That was described, from the White House to 10 Downing Street, as a remarkable example of the great attempt to extend democracy to new parts of the world.
How bizarre and how ironic it should be that those very things that we praised in the Lebanon, in the Ukraine, in Kyrgyzstan and elsewhere, we are now beginning to make almost impossible in our own country. I would ask the Minister to think seriously about the implications if the Government's proposals, not only here, but also far beyond where British influence and British example have long been regarded as important. I beg to move.
My Lords, I rise briefly, not to add to the passionate and sensible speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, but simply to point out that, as a Front-Bencher, my remarks on this were put on record at Second Reading and yesterday. For the record, I remind my colleagues, who may not be present at this moment but may read the record, that if a Division were to occur it would be on a free vote.
My Lords, I shall speak briefly in support of my noble friend Lady Williams. I fear that this part of the Bill in particular gives such wide and discretionary powers to the police, and those to whom they are expressly given, as to create a dangerous regime. I should add to my noble friend's remarks that, for example, under Clause 136, a constable can arrest a single demonstrator in the belief that the demonstrator has not obtained the necessary authorisations.
A demonstration could constitute a single person, because the Bill makes it clear that the demonstration can be by someone who is merely shouting in the street—for example, when seeing someone leaving these Houses who that demonstrator feels passionately about in relation to the issue concerned. That individual will, if the provision is passed, be subject to immediate arrest by any policeman in the vicinity. That is not remotely right or sensible.
If the Minister says that the police will of course exercise their discretion, it would underline my concern about the discretionary nature of these vast powers. Parliament is increasingly dealing with that type of legislation and it is bad legislation. I merely wished to say that and to support strongly the comments that have been made.
My Lords, I have an open mind about Amendment No. 17. Regarding Amendment No. 18, I acknowledge the stirring speech given by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, and I take on board the many interesting points that she made, with which I agree to a considerable extent.
Is not one of the problems with Amendment No. 18, as drafted, that a 100-metre exclusion zone that started even at the south-eastern corner of Parliament Square would not, I suspect, protect the Black Rod's Garden entrance, for example, nor—although I have not had time to pace it out—would it protect the southernmost part of our car park?
Would the noble Baroness consider returning at Third Reading with an amendment that compromises at somewhere between one kilometre and 100 metres? I would suggest a quarter of a mile—and I declare an interest as patron of the British Weights and Measures Association, to which the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, also belongs. Survey after survey has demonstrated that the great majority of people in this country, of all age groups, continue to think in Imperial terms, despite years of metric indoctrination. Setting down the limits in terms of yards or fractions of a mile would help the public to understand—quite literally—how far they could go.
My Lords, I, too, support the amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams. I do not wish to repeat what I said yesterday, but I feel that I am living in some type of Cloud-cuckoo-land when a Labour Government are bringing forward this type of legislation.
I was in the Labour Party for 54 years and in that party we believed that people had the right to assemble in virtually all circumstances and that it was part of this country's freedoms and heritage that they should be able to do so. We were always proud of the right to assemble outside Parliament and to be able to demonstrate our views to the elected representatives of the people and do so without let or hindrance; and, indeed, with the assistance of the authorities and the police.
Now we have a piece of legislation which will keep people away from the doors of our great and ancient Parliament. We will discourage them from coming here and will put them at the risk of arrest, as far as I understand, for the minor offences that they may commit. I cannot hope to emulate the language of the noble Baroness. She put the case so well that it needs little addition, but I emphasise that the most disgraceful part of the proposal is that it comes from the Labour Party—a party that was built on the right of people to speak and to act in support of freedom, to demonstrate—particularly against Tory governments—when things were going wrong and to allow trade unionists to march in the vicinity of this place. I think that trade unionists shall still be able to do so, but I do not see why it should be only them.
I wish to express my sheer disappointment that we should have this type of legislation from the party of which I was a member for 54 years, which I admired throughout that period and for which I worked with great alacrity. I regret the passing of such a party.
My Lords, I shall be brief, as I spoke at some length on this matter yesterday. It is not often that I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, but I am delighted with his contribution today. The point that I made yesterday was right—if I may remind the Minister again—that when the Leader of the House of Commons, Peter Hain, was the chairman of my Young Liberal movement, he and I repeatedly passed outside the House, shouting various slogans. It would be nice to seek his opinion on this clause—but I shall leave that matter on one side.
My reason for standing up was to talk about Amendment No. 17. Its purpose very much relates to the comments of my noble friend Lady Williams. We believe that the reduction by the Government from six days to 24 hours of the need to notify the commissioner still does not allow spontaneous protests in the vicinity of Parliament. The purpose of our amendment is to remove this provision and to ensure that spontaneous demonstrations are possible.
My Lords, I should like to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, that the Labour Party has not changed in the 54 years in which he has been a member—
To this extent, my Lords. We still passionately believe in the freedom of assembly and the freedom to demonstrate. We are proud, too, of the right, as the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, said, to assemble before Parliament to demonstrate before the elected Members.
I should also like to reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, that we similarly believe that great credit should be given to our democracy for that ability to protest. We do not believe that the controls that we put in place are capricious, as she fears; they have to be judiciously and reasonably exercised. It is incumbent on any commissioner who has this duty and capacity to exercise that power reasonably. As she knows, there are perfectly robust ways of ensuring that the proper exercise of that power is maintained and is not capriciously used. It will therefore be incumbent on the Metropolitan Police Commissioner to act reasonably. Therefore, it is putting the case far too high to suggest that it would be impossible for reasonable protest to continue.
I remind the House that although it is reasonably understood, the concern that has been expressed is not justified. These clauses would require protesters to give prior notice of their protest to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. However, he or she is obliged—I emphasise that word—to authorise the demonstration. It will, however, be open to him or her to attach conditions to the authorisation where necessary; for example, to safeguard the operation of Parliament or to prevent a security risk in the area. "Necessary" is an important word. If you can combine necessity with reasonableness, then it is quite clear that the power would have to be judiciously and properly exercised.
The Government believe that no point in the designated area may be more than one kilometre in a straight line from the point nearest to it in Parliament Square. I say straightaway to the noble Lord, Lord Monson, that I understand his preference to use the old ways of defining distance rather than metres. I have that prejudice myself. However, in this we have to move with the times, and it would be more appropriate to remain in kilometres.
I can assure the House that the Government intend to lay an order on the precise area to be covered. We intend to consult with the Metropolitan Police on this area so that it covers the area where the demonstrations that disrupt the work of Parliament and hinder access to the House take place. In this Bill we do not want to restrict unnecessarily the area that will be covered.
As I indicated yesterday, we are aware of concerns about the designated area taking in Trafalgar Square, a matter which has been raised in this House on a number of occasions. The House can be assured that in exercising the order-making power we shall ensure that Trafalgar Square is excluded. As a result, demonstrations could continue there without the need for prior notification from the commissioner.
The nature of a demonstration may well change during the course of the demonstration, and as such it is entirely appropriate that the senior officer on the ground should be able to vary the conditions to reflect the changing conditions. That is already the case. Under the Public Order Act, in the case of processions, the senior officer on the scene could attach additional conditions in certain circumstances; for example, if there is a serious threat of disorder. So that is not a new change; it merely confirms the position that has existed for some time.
I turn to the issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, on timing. The Government have responded to the concerns expressed about the requirement to give at least six days' notice of any demonstration. In Committee yesterday, the House agreed an amendment that recognises that there should be provision for a shorter period of notice—24 hours—in exceptional circumstances. For example, a demonstration may be organised as a response to an event that could not be foreseen, precisely as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said. An important issue could spring up at very short notice and it would be important to demonstrate about it. This provision allows that to take place in a way that is proper.
The Government believe that the notice period is an essential part of these provisions, so that the commissioner is able to consider the circumstances of the demonstration and its likely effect on the work of Parliament and the security of the area around it. He can then set conditions that are appropriate and proportionate. The Government have recognised that there may be occasions when demonstrations are organised as a response to events that, as I said, could not have been foreseen. We have therefore shortened the notice in response.
So what we have done both on the ambit of the designated area and the notice period is to respond in what we hope is a positive and sensible way to the concerns that have been properly expressed. I make it clear that it is no part of the Government's intent to restrict the proper demonstrations that should continue to occur on those matters about which the public feel strongly. That is a fundamental part of our democracy, of which we are justly proud.
My Lords, I thank the Minister very much for what she said and indeed for her reference to Trafalgar Square, which I mentioned on Second Reading. She made a very eloquent and reasonable defence of the position of the commissioner, and I accept that what she said is correct. The Government are very fortunate to have the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, to argue their bad case.
I was, however, particularly concerned about the supplementary provisions, which among other things refer not to "a serious disturbance to the life of the community" but only to "any disturbance to the life of the community". I used the word "capricious" because those words are so wide and go so far beyond what is provided in the Public Order Act that the nature of the demonstration will allow far more of those supplementary provisions to be relevant.
However, in view of the lateness of the hour and my sense that it is a fairly empty House, it would be inappropriate to press the issue to a Division. So, with great sadness, at this point, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
My Lords, this amendment has the support of the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, the noble Baroness, Lady Stern, and my noble friend Lady Falkner of Margravine. We spoke at some length to this matter yesterday but the Minister did not address two issues in reply. I therefore wish to raise them again.
The issue relates essentially to the proposal in Clause 138 to reverse the presumption on withholding from the public the identity of a child accused of breaching an ASBO. The current legislative presumption that a child subject to criminal proceedings should not be identified enshrines the principle of Article 40 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It states:
"State parties recognise the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognised as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child's sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child's respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child's age and the desirability of the child's reintegration and the child's assuming a constructive role in society".
The convention goes on to state that the states parties shall ensure that children alleged as or accused of having infringed the penal law shall have the guarantee that their privacy will be fully respected at all stages of the proceedings. We ask whether naming and shaming individuals is compatible with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. I beg to move.
My Lords, my name is also attached to the amendment and I strongly support the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, relating to the convention. Last night I mentioned the issue of scrutiny. While much of the Bill was scrutinised in the other place, this aspect of it received no consideration there. We had an occasion to discuss it late last night but, given that those on the front line are so concerned about the Government's current agenda of improving services for children and giving more thought to the needs of those who work directly with children, we should give the matter careful consideration and listen to those concerns.
Last night I raised the issue of research into the impact of publishing the names of these children—a practice that has been going on for several years. When the Anti-social Behaviour Bill passed through this House, I urged the Minister to produce research into the consequences of that activity. At the time, I believe that the Minister replied that it would be too difficult to carry out such research, and she repeated that in her response last night.
I am also concerned at the division that such a practice might provoke among agencies working together to improve outcomes for children. I shall come to that later.
I reflect on my experience of being responsible for the type of children covered by this clause. I remember 20 years ago working in an intermediate treatment centre with a 10 year-old traveller boy. He would hit all the workers and, to ingratiate himself, would tell obscene jokes about his mother to the older boys—he was by far the youngest in the centre. He was a deeply troubling and deeply troubled young man.
I think of a boy with whom I worked last year—a 10 year-old, who got into fights with other children. One lunchtime, we came across him lolling in a tyre-shaped inflatable, rocking himself backwards and forwards like an infant. It was only towards the end of our time working with him that we learned that he had just come out of care and had been newly adopted.
I think of a young man with whom I worked recently who had just come out of his minority. He demanded attention from all the staff and young people in the hostel and made himself deeply unpopular. He was eventually excluded from the hostel but fortunately he has found another place.
Those are the kinds of young people whom we are discussing now. As the noble Baroness herself made clear in a conversation that we had on this subject, she recognises that many of the young people whom we are discussing and who will be caught by this clause are the kind of young people to whom I have referred. In its evidence to the Select Committee on Education and Skills in the other place, the Association of Chief Police Officers said that it was important to recognise,
"that children who commit offences, without excusing them or trying to defend them, are exactly the same constituency as children who get excluded from school, children who become in need of protection or have CAMS [Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services] needs".
Last night, the noble Baroness spoke of the difficulties of research in this area. I recognise that it can be difficult to conduct such research where there are a number of interventions with these children and their families and where there are parenting orders and so on. Nevertheless, if we are to encourage the local media to publicise the identities and photographs of these children—we have been doing so for several years now—it is incumbent on us, if we really believe that every child matters, to conduct as rigorous research as we can to find out what happens as a result.
I was pleased to be put in touch by the Minister with one of her civil servants to ask about research. He told me that the Youth Justice Board will shortly undertake some research in this area. So I urge the Minister to wait until we know better what the impact of the very controversial publication of these children's names would be before proceeding on this matter. I share the concerns of those outside that, if these children and their families are identified, they may become the targets of people in the local area. I am concerned that labelling them in this way may reinforce some of the bad behaviours that we are seeing and that it may impact on the children's rehabilitation.
We need research, but that has not been forthcoming. There is a possibility of it taking place in the future—fairly soon, I hope. So let us wait until the outcome of that research is available to us and to the courts which have to make decisions in this area. I look forward to the Minister's response.
My Lords, I do not want to repeat what was said last night; I just want to make one point. Since the mid-19th century, people concerned with the welfare of children have been working towards enshrining in law measures for their protection. One aim of the campaigners has been that the identity of children in court, children in trouble and children from problem families should not come into the public domain. As the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, said last night, protecting the privacy of children has always been a basic principle of the youth court and, before that, the juvenile court. We frequently hear in the media about, for example, a 16 year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons, and we accept that that is how the law works.
That principle has become fundamental when dealing with youths in trouble, and there are reasons for that. One is that they may be exposed to danger by hounding, vilification or violence, and another reason is that they should enter adulthood without carrying with them a bad reputation which they gained before they were of an age to be deemed fully responsible.
Those principles are enshrined in United Nations treaties, as the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, reminded us, and accepted throughout the world. Yet, here we are discussing a Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill—not policy about children, youth crime, youth courts, neighbourhoods or any relevant topic—and, without proper discussion and without any substantial analysis, we propose to throw in the rubbish bin the received wisdom of all those who care for the rights of children and who fought for them for nearly two centuries. In my view, we should not be doing that; we should certainly not be doing it without giving it a great deal more thought than we are in relation to this Bill. I support the amendment.
My Lords, I rise briefly to add my support for the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and also to add one extra point in support of my noble friend Lady Stern and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel.
At present, in areas such as parts of Merseyside and the Wirral, there are populations of children who will fit into the description of children who, if this law comes into being, will be named and shamed. At the moment, a great deal of effort is put into various agencies working together to try to prevent that. I fear that, if this legislation goes through, the various agencies will have less patience in relation to such children and there will be a tendency to say, "All right, we have given them sufficient time so let's put the law into effect by exposing them". I think that that would be a very dangerous practice.
My Lords, I understand the anxiety about which the noble Lord, Lord Chan, speaks. I also understand the passion that causes the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, the noble Baroness, Lady Stern, and others to bring the issue to the fore. The plight of these very vulnerable and often damaged children is of the utmost importance. I want to make it absolutely clear that we understand that. However, we also recognise that, because of the nature and extent of their damage, many of those children are also damaging in the way in which they behave and in the threat that they may, from time to time, present. We have to recognise that there is a small cadre of children—it is not all of them—who fall into that group.
As I said last night, the question is how we should respond to those children. Yesterday, I outlined the broad spectrum of interventions that noble Lords graciously agreed were helpful in ameliorating the level of dysfunction and addressing the needs of such children, which, I respectfully suggest, are perhaps greater than they have been for a very long time. The Government have invested considerable energy in ensuring that those better provisions are available.
With regard to these measures, it is important that the courts and professionals who deal with such children understand the nature of the difficulties that they face and the broad spectrum of provisions that now apply to them. So the juvenile Bench, which has the proper training, will determine which cases should or should not have disclosure of identity. Professional judges, who have the skill, training and aptitude to deal with the cases, will judge the proportionate response to make.
I understand the concern expressed, but the provisions are proportionate. They are entirely compatible with the convention to which the United Kingdom is a signatory. The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia mentioned it. Two important safeguards ensure compliance with the terms and the spirit of the convention. The court will retain discretion to make reporting restrictions where it considers that such restrictions are necessary; for example, in the best interests of the child or in the interests of justice. As the order is generally subject to publication, there is no anonymity to protect in this context. I remind the House that the issue of publicity in such cases will have been dealt with at the making of the ASBO.
The reason why we introduced the anti-social behaviour orders in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 is well known. I remind your Lordships of a case. We believe that it is right for the community to know that an anti-social behaviour order has been granted, and in the case of Stanley v London Borough of Brent/Metropolitan Police Service in October 2004 it was accepted that ASBOs needed publicity to operate and that appropriate and proportionate publicity was compliant with the Human Rights Act 1998. Equally, we feel that it is right that it is known what happens if one is breached, so that everyone is clear about the consequences of a breach. Otherwise the community will lose confidence in the system designed to protect it. However, we are mindful of the distinct issues that surround offenders who are under 18, as I have already made clear. That is why we have issued specific guidance on publicity and highlighted the fact that specific consideration should be given to the age of the individual perpetrators and whether they are vulnerable.
We listened carefully to the concerns raised in the House during yesterday's debate. We intend to retain the clause, but we propose to address some of those concerns as follows. I make it plain that we believe that some of those concerns are proper concerns. We shall issue guidance via our Together website and a step-by-step guide on the operation of the new clause prior to its commencement. The noble Baroness, Lady Stern, requested that yesterday in the Chamber. That guidance will make it clear that, in a breach case involving an under 18 year-old, although the presumption will initially be in favour of allowing publicity, the court must consider whether publicity was allowed when the anti-social behaviour order was initially granted. If it was not, then unless there has been a significant change in the intervening period, publicity should normally be refused. If publicity was originally allowed, it should again be allowed, unless the court directs otherwise. I hope that noble Lords will consider that a robust and proper response to a concern properly and judiciously expressed.
We shall also ensure that the guidance clearly refers to welfare and safeguarding issues, so that they are in the mind of the court when it makes its decision. We believe that that provides a way forward that addresses the needs of the community and of the young offender in a reasonable, balanced and proportionate way. I urge your Lordships to retain Clause 141.
My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have supported the amendment. I accept and appreciate much of the Government's work on youth justice, but like the noble Baroness, Lady Stern, I still find it difficult to accept that a Bill that deals with serious crime should incorporate provisions for naming and shaming our children. That does not fit in the Bill. As the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, said, more research is vital. For that reason, it is right that we should put on record our concern. I wish to test the opinion of the House.
moved Amendment No. 20:
After Clause 152, insert the following new Clause—
:TITLE3:"Disclosure of information about insurance status of vehicles
(1) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision for and in connection with requiring MIIC to make available relevant vehicle insurance information to PITO for it to process with a view to making the processed information available for use by constables.
(2) "Relevant vehicle insurance information" means information relating to vehicles the use of which has been (but no longer is) insured under a policy of insurance, or security in respect of third party risks, complying with the requirements of Part 6 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52).
(3) The regulations may in particular—
(a) require all relevant vehicle insurance information or any particular description of such information to be made available to PITO,
(b) determine the purposes for which information processed from such information by PITO may be made available for use by constables, and
(c) determine the circumstances in which any of the processed information which has been made available for use by constables may be further disclosed by them.
(4) In this section—
"information" means information held in any form,"MIIC" means the Motor Insurers' Information Centre (a company limited by guarantee and incorporated under the Companies Act 1985 (c. 6) on 8th December 1998), and"PITO" means the Police Information Technology Organisation."
My Lords, in Committee yesterday I indicated in response to two amendments tabled by my noble friend Lord Simon that we would bring forward these amendments which effectively import into the Bill two clauses from the Road Safety Bill. As noble Lords will know, unfortunately that Bill did not survive the wash-up.
The two new clauses will, first, enable the police to have access to insurance industry data relating to vehicles whose use is no longer insured; and, secondly, permit police to carry out an evidential breath test not only at a police station, but also at a hospital or at or near a place, such as the roadside, where a preliminary breath test has been administered. In the last of these situations the police constable making the requirement must be in uniform. I hope that will suffice. I beg to move.
My Lords, I have Amendment No. 22 in this group of government amendments, which is tabled as an amendment to Amendment No. 21. I believe that the whole group still stands. I look to the noble Baroness for guidance. I think the Table agrees with that. Therefore, I can go ahead.
I apologise for taking time: the whole point of this was not to. As the noble Baroness said, yesterday, amendments were tabled by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, and I and others added our names in support of those amendments to new clauses. When the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, introduced the amendment, he made clear that, at this late stage in the Bill, we anticipated that the whole point was that we should have further opportunity to debate these matters after an election, whatever government happened to occupy the government Benches then.
The noble Viscount moved his amendment at 10.45 p.m. I added my support to that view at that late stage. The Government seized on that opportunity with a "whoopee" to put them into the Bill straight away. I cannot complain about that because I support the clauses, as did my honourable and right honourable friends in another place, but that highlights the difficulty that we have in wash-up—as has been noted earlier—because we rush through a large and important Bill of this nature with insufficient scrutiny. Although I and the noble Viscount support the clauses—naturally, the Government do—other Members of this House may not and are therefore denied the opportunity for detailed debate.
I have therefore tabled Amendment No. 22 merely to ask the noble Baroness to put on record some reassurances about one aspect of a change to be made. In the past, whenever a breath test has been taken, the screening test—the first test, if I may put it that way—may be done at the roadside. The change is that the second, the evidential, test may now be taken by the roadside or at a hospital, instead of only at a police station. The noble Baroness looks pregnant with information.
Yes, my Lords, it was probably remiss of me. I really wanted to shorten this debate and I honestly confess to the noble Baroness that I had forgotten that this was the time for me to make a full explanation. I am happy to do that; I thought that, as we were all going to agree, it would go through quickly, but I apologise to her for failing to recollect that that was the purpose. If it will assist her, I will now go through how the provisions will operate, so that she does not have be put to the trouble of doing so herself.
We have made the changes to the second new clause—powers to require specimens of breath at the roadside or at a hospital—in response to comments made by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its 13th report of Session 2004–05 about clauses in the Road Safety Bill that the committee considered to be at risk of incompatibility with Article 5 of the ECHR. The Government are grateful to the committee for its advice and are acting accordingly to deal with that matter.
The effect of the changes is to modify the conditions under which a constable must release from detention a person who has been detained following a requirement to provide a specimen of breath, blood or alcohol. They require that a constable should be able to detain a person only if he has reasonable grounds for believing that that person would commit an offence under Sections 4 or 5 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 if released. The two amendments to Clause 177 are consequential on the insertion of those two new clauses.
I turn to the amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay. It may help if I explain that procedures for dealing with drink/drive cases are covered by a precisely worded set of documents, known as the MGDD forms, that can be found on the Home Office website. The key form includes the following passage, which it may be convenient if I read into the record:
"As the specimen with the lower proportion of alcohol is in excess of the prescribed limit, but contains no more than 50 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath, you may claim that it should be replaced by a specimen for a laboratory test. If you elect to provide such a specimen it will be of blood or urine which, in the case of blood, will be taken by a doctor (or health care professional) . . . You will be supplied with part of the specimen if you so require. The other part will be sent to a forensic laboratory for analysis. The result of the analysis of the laboratory specimen will replace the result of the breath test. Do you wish to provide a specimen for laboratory alcohol analysis?".
The police, in conjunction with the Home Office and the Crown Prosecution Service, will adapt those forms to deal with the roadside and hospital circumstances for breath testing. I can assure the noble Baroness and other noble Lords that the procedures to be undertaken at the roadside will be no less rigorous than those at the police station. The history of drink/drive law has been peppered with challenges in the courts. That is why Sections 4 to 11 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 have been amended only where absolutely necessary—and then with great care and attention.
I hope that that will better explain to anyone who is not in the Chamber but able to read our proceedings later how the provisions will interact.
My Lords, as this is Report, may I interpret that as a very helpful intervention from the noble Baroness, so that this is not my second speech on the same group of amendments? The best laid plans go awry, because I telephoned the noble Baroness's office first thing this morning to explain why I was tabling the amendment and that there was no hostile intent.
I thank her for anticipating all the questions that I would have asked about my amendment and giving a more thorough and helpful explanation than may have been possible in another place on
moved Amendment No. 21:
Insert the following new Clause—
:TITLE3:"Power to require specimens of breath at roadside or at hospital etc.
(1) Section 6D of the Road Traffic Act 1988 (c. 52) (preliminary tests for drink and drugs: arrest) is amended as follows.
(2) After subsection (1) insert—
"(1A) The fact that specimens of breath have been provided under section 7 of this Act by the person concerned does not prevent subsection (1) above having effect if the constable who imposed on him the requirement to provide the specimens has reasonable cause to believe that the device used to analyse the specimens has not produced a reliable indication of the proportion of alcohol in the breath of the person."
(3) After subsection (2) insert—
"(2A) A person arrested under this section may, instead of being taken to a police station, be detained at or near the place where the preliminary test was, or would have been, administered, with a view to imposing on him there a requirement under section 7 of this Act."
(4) Section 7 of that Act (provision of specimens for analysis) is amended as follows.
(5) For subsection (2) substitute—
"(2) A requirement under this section to provide specimens of breath can only be made—
(a) at a police station,
(b) at a hospital, or
(c) at or near a place where a relevant breath test has been administered to the person concerned or would have been so administered but for his failure to co-operate with it.
(2A) For the purposes of this section "a relevant breath test" is a procedure involving the provision by the person concerned of a specimen of breath to be used for the purpose of obtaining an indication whether the proportion of alcohol in his breath or blood is likely to exceed the prescribed limit.
(2B) A requirement under this section to provide specimens of breath may not be made at or near a place mentioned in subsection (2)(c) above unless the constable making it—
(a) is in uniform, or
(b) has imposed a requirement on the person concerned to co-operate with a relevant breath test in circumstances in which section 6(5) of this Act applies.
(2C) Where a constable has imposed a requirement on the person concerned to co-operate with a relevant breath test at any place, he is entitled to remain at or near that place in order to impose on him there a requirement under this section.
(2D) If a requirement under subsection (1)(a) above has been made at a place other than at a police station, such a requirement may subsequently be made at a police station if (but only if)—
(a) a device or a reliable device of the type mentioned in subsection (1)(a) above was not available at that place or it was for any other reason not practicable to use such a device there, or
(b) the constable who made the previous requirement has reasonable cause to believe that the device used there has not produced a reliable indication of the proportion of alcohol in the breath of the person concerned."
(6) In subsection (3) (circumstances in which requirement to provide a specimen of blood or urine may be made)—
(a) in paragraph (b) (breath-testing device not available etc.) insert at the beginning "specimens of breath have not been provided elsewhere and", and
(b) in paragraph (bb) (police station breath-testing device has not provided a reliable indication of alcohol level) for "at the police station" substitute "(at the police station or elsewhere)".
(7) In section 8 of that Act (choice of specimens of breath) after subsection (2) insert—
"(2A) If the person who makes a claim under subsection (2) above was required to provide specimens of breath under section 7 of this Act at or near a place mentioned in subsection (2)(c) of that section, a constable may arrest him without warrant."
(8) In section 9(1) of that Act (protection for hospital patients) for "for a laboratory test" substitute "under section 7 of this Act".
(9) Section 10 of that Act (detention of persons affected by alcohol or a drug) is amended as follows.
(10) In subsection (1) (detention at a police station)—
(a) for "until it appears to the constable" substitute "(or, if the specimen was provided otherwise than at a police station, arrested and taken to and detained at a police station) if a constable has reasonable grounds for believing", and
(b) for "not be committing" substitute "commit".
(11) In subsection (2) (grounds for detention) for "A person shall not be detained in pursuance of this section if it appears to a" substitute "Subsection (1) above does not apply to the person if it ought reasonably to appear to the".
(12) After that subsection insert—
"(2A) A person who is at a hospital as a patient shall not be arrested and taken from there to a police station in pursuance of this section if it would be prejudicial to his proper care and treatment as a patient.""
[Amendment 22 is an Amendment to Amendment 21.]
On Question, amendment agreed to.
[Amendment No. 22 not moved.]
Clause 177 [Short title and extent]:
moved Amendments Nos. 23 and 24:
Clause 177, page 135, line 5, leave out "152," and insert "(Disclosure of information about insurance status of vehicles),"
Page 135, line 29, at end insert—
"( ) section (Power to require specimens of breath at roadside or at hospital etc.),"
On Question, amendments agreed to.
moved Amendment No. 25:
Schedule 4, page 155, line 35, at end insert—
:TITLE3: "Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (c. 27)
(1) Section 87 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (exemption of fire, ambulance and police vehicles from speed limits) is amended as follows.
(2) The existing text of that section is to be subsection (1).
(3) After that subsection add—
"(2) Subsection (1) above applies in relation to a vehicle being used—
(a) for Serious Organised Crime Agency purposes, or
(b) for training persons to drive vehicles for use for Serious Organised Crime Agency purposes, as it applies in relation to a vehicle being used for police purposes.
(3) But (except where it is being used for training the person by whom it is being driven) subsection (1) above does not apply in relation to a vehicle by virtue of subsection (2) above unless it is being driven by a person who has been trained in driving vehicles at high speeds.""
My Lords, this is an important amendment that will allow SOCA to be included in the provisions that exempt police, fire and ambulance vehicles from speed limits, where it is necessary in pursuit of their functions. Section 87 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, which makes that exemption, will not automatically extend to SOCA as the agency will not be a police body pursuing police purposes. Noble Lords may recognise that similar provisions were included in the Road Safety Bill. They have therefore enjoyed previous scrutiny and debate. However, as that Bill will not receive Royal Assent in the current session, it is essential that we make provision for that exemption in the SOCA Bill. There are safeguards inherent in the amendment that will limit the exemption to SOCA staff who are carrying out the purposes of the agency and those who are undergoing training to do so. Furthermore, the exemption covers only those vehicles driven by someone who has had training to drive at high speeds. With those considerations, I invite noble Lords to accept the amendment. I beg to move.
My Lords, I wish to put to the noble Baroness some points sent to me today by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety. I am sure that she will find those points welcome; she will perhaps have to respond to them.
The advisory council points out that, although the amendment is welcome as a specific response to one problem, the original clause in the Road Safety Bill had a wider remit. It applied to fire, ambulance and police services and other prescribed purposes. That has been omitted from the Government's new amendment—naturally, because this is not the Road Safety Bill. The noble Baroness said that that Bill had been drowned in the wash-up. It is hardly surprising, given the vast raft of Bills that the Government introduced in the Queen's Speech knowing full well that they could not get through. Indeed, their own noble friend Lord Graham of Edmonton, in the latest edition of The House Magazine, trumpeted broadly the fact that everybody knew that the Government had done that knowing that a load of Bills would fail. Here is such an example, but we have managed to salvage something, on which all-party agreement has been reached, to tuck into this Bill, which looks as though it will have a safe passage today.
The advisory council says that it would be very helpful if the Minister could give a reassurance that if this particular Government—I have changed its wording to include the word "particular"—were in office and intended to return to such matters, they would look at the wider issue after the general election. I can certainly give an undertaking from these Benches that we would do that if we were in a position to do so.
I agree with the organisation that there is widespread concern about the number of road users who have become casualties as a result of police vehicles involved in incidents while carrying out statutory duties. The original clause would have ensured proper and adequate training for police, ambulance and fire service personnel driving vehicles at high speed. I agree that that should not be overlooked in future legislation. I invite the noble Baroness to give the appropriate reassurances.
My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has spoken for me. I was approached very early this morning by ACPO with exactly the same concerns. The noble Baroness has spoken to them very well and I have nothing further to say, apart from the fact that those are the concerns of ACPO also.
My Lords, I hope that I will be able to give noble Lords satisfaction. I remind the noble Baroness that it would have been open to Her Majesty's loyal Opposition to agree to all our Bills because they were all very meritorious and needed. I remind her that, in 1992, when this Government were unfortunately in opposition, we were very gracious in agreeing to legislation such as the Charities Bill and the Museums and Galleries Bill. They all went through because they were merited. But the noble Baroness knows that Her Majesty's loyal Opposition are more timorous about what is in the interests of the citizens of this country.
I can assure the noble Baroness that, if we are re-elected, we will certainly seek an appropriate legislative opportunity to bring back what was Clause 18 of the Road Safety Bill. It is clearly right that all emergency service personnel are properly trained if they are authorised to drive at high speed. I am very happy to give that assurance as regards when this Government come back.
My Lords, I now come to what many will see as the most pleasurable part of this Bill. I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.
Oh dear, my Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a third time.
My Lords, I now have the pleasure that I sought precipitately a moment ago. Before doing so, I thank all those who have worked so hard to ensure that the Bill has a safe passage. I pay tribute to the work of those on all sides of this House, including the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and Members on the Cross Benches. I hope that noble Lords will allow me to give my particular thanks to the Bill team, which has worked extraordinarily hard to ensure that all of us, including noble Lords opposite, have the sort of support to enable us to make good and judicious decisions on the matter. We all, I am sure, wish this Bill Godspeed. I have therefore great pleasure in begging to move that the Bill do now pass.
Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)
My Lords, we are also keen to see the end of this Bill; it is the honest experience of those who had been expecting four days in Committee but find ourselves with two days for the passage of the whole Bill.
I echo the Minister's thanks, particularly to the Bill team, which, throughout a difficult time on this Bill, has ensured that all of us have been better informed than perhaps would otherwise have been possible. It has meant that sometimes we have not needed to table amendments that would have taken up the time of the House. Particularly because of the difficulties of timetabling, I wish to put on record my thanks to the Public Bill Office, which has ensured that advance Marshalled Lists have been available and has kept us all sane through difficult times.