The controversy over the extension of the powers of the MOD police has arisen in the course of the Select Committee hearings on the Armed Forces Bill. I accept that it is going through that procedure because these matters are difficult, but I thought that it was right to probe the matter now. Given that there is controversy, we should know to what extent the Government intend to empower the MOD police. I raised the issue on clause stand part in that spirit; I did not have any intention of tabling an amendment on behalf of the Opposition. However, we do need to canvass the issue. As the matter is of interest to many people, will the Minister write to us if there are any developments?
In the Select Committee at least, a consensus is emerging, with curious alliances being forged between the Conservative party and the National Union of Journalists. A group of concerned bodies and political parties is examining whether it will work effectively, particularly as the MOD police are such an unaccountable force. Whereas local police forces are overseen by a police authority with a committee that is largely accountable, the Secretary of State for Defence has authority for the MOD police.
We do not intend to divide the Committee, but I wanted to explain why I raised the matter.