Clause 36 - Police regulations: cadets

Railways and Transport Safety Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 13th February 2003.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Anne McIntosh Anne McIntosh Shadow Minister (Transport)

The subject of this clause is not covered by clause 34. Presumably, any difference in the regulations on the recruitment of cadets will relate purely to the fact that they have to be transported. I omitted to say that special constables are volunteers and that if they are travelling by train it may take them some time to get back. I do not know whether that poses a particular problem.

Is the Minister concerned about the recruitment of cadets and will the regulations reflect any potential difficulties? What has the trend been during the past five years? We welcome the way in which cadets are recruited by the police force. I mentioned that during the debate on clause 25, but it is equally significant in respect of this clause. It would be interesting to know the average length of service of those recruits. I assume that some may be as young as 16; perhaps the Minister could confirm that. What is the average number of cadets recruited every year, and what is the average length of service? I understand that regulations will limit maximum service to 30 years. That would mean that recruits could retire and look in comfort for opportunities elsewhere. Is that what generally happens, or do cadets tend to remain in post for only five or 10 years and then seek other employment?

I am mindful of the Minister's comment on a company operating a transport depot. Potters, based in my constituency, has two such facilities—one in Selby and one in Ely, near Cambridge. The Minister was clear that if such firms had private security for those sites, they would not be required to enter into a police service agreement. There is clearly a big and attractive market in private security firms for which people might leave the police service to earn higher salaries. Has there been a tendency to poach young cadets after five or 10 years?

In response to my hon. Friend the Member for Westbury, the Minister said that there was difficulty in recruiting specials. Is there such difficulty in recruiting police cadets? If so, will that be reflected in any regulations that the authority would hope to make under the clause? How many cadets on average join the British Transport police, and what is their average length of service? I would imagine—I am guessing—that they would wish to stay in the force for the full 30 years.

Photo of Mark Lazarowicz Mark Lazarowicz Labour/Co-operative, Edinburgh North and Leith

I want to raise one issue, on which I am sure there is a simple answer. I should be grateful to find out what it is.

The clause and the preceding one make no specific mention of Scotland, even though the Police (Scotland) Act 1967 rather than the Police Act 1996 is applicable. I understand that the Government have tabled amendments to clauses 42 and 43 specifically mentioning regulations applying to Scotland. I wonder why there is no such mention in clauses 35 and 36.

Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

Clause 36 replicates the Home Secretary's powers under section 52 of the 1996 Act to regulate the conditions of service for police cadets. It enables the authority to make non-statutory regulations for the British Transport police's cadets. They must be consistent with Home Office regulations; they may differ only in order to meet the transport police's specific needs. As I said in the previous debate, if Home Office regulations change, it will be the authority's responsibility to ensure that the non-statutory BTP regulations also change to fit as appropriate.

The hon. Member for Vale of York asked a number of detailed questions about the present arrangements for cadets. I imagine that anyone who had been a cadet for 30 years would no longer consider themselves to be one. The job is mainly intended for younger people, so the idea of retiring after 30 years would not apply. One would have thought that they would before then have joined the main service or become a special. Perhaps I should have spared the hon. Lady the agony of asking all those questions, as the Committee will recall from the debate on clause 25 that there are currently no BTP cadets. We were therefore unable to make the comparisons that she sought.

Clauses 35 and 36 allow the Secretary of State to make regulations that will apply to clause 34. Clauses 42 and 43 allow us to make regulations under the 1996 Act. We will need to make it clear that they are UK-wide, which explains amendments later in the Bill.

Photo of Mark Lazarowicz Mark Lazarowicz Labour/Co-operative, Edinburgh North and Leith

I am grateful for the Minister's reply, but it does not answer my question. Why do clauses 42 and 43 specifically refer to their applying in Scotland when clauses 35 and 36, which also apply UK-wide, do not? The Minister will be aware that the Home Secretary does not have powers in Scotland to make regulations in relation to police matters.

Photo of Mr David Jamieson Mr David Jamieson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Transport

I shall look at that matter in more detail and will take written advice. I would like to come back to my hon. Friend and give him a full and proper answer later.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 36 ordered to stand part of the Bill.