Schedule 5

Policing and Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:15 pm on 24th February 2009.

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Amendment of Part 3 of the Aviation Security Act 1982

Photo of David Ruffley David Ruffley Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

I beg to move amendment 258, in schedule 5, page 133, line 8, at end insert—

‘(8) In relation to disputes to which this section applies, the Secretary of State shall require that the police provider provides all parties to the dispute full and transparent information about the resource deployments and justifications for those deployments.

(9) In determining disputes under this section, the Secretary of State shall have regard to the principles of transparency and accountability in relation to the policing costs that are reasonable to be born by the aerodrome manager.

(10) Such principles will have regard, inter alia, to the following—

(a) whether an alternative police provider would have made different operational resource judgements based on the identified risks (and such comparison may include references to other airports with similar risk profiles);

(b) whether an alternative police provider would have provided those resources at a lower cost.’.

Clause 61 and the introduction of schedule 5 are important. Schedule 5 will omit sections 25, 25A and 25B of the Aviation Security Act 1982 and insert new text. It will change the current regime and remove the system of designation whereby only some aerodrome operators pay for policing at their aerodromes. All airport operators requiring a dedicated police presence at their aerodrome—not all do—will have to pay for services provided by the police. There must be agreement on whether police services are required at an aerodrome.

Dispute resolution, which has been alluded to in a different context, is at the heart of amendment 258, which I tabled with my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch. It would amend the schedule so that in relation to disputes,

“the Secretary of State shall require that the police provider provides all parties to the dispute full and transparent information about the resource deployments and justifications for those deployments.”

It also states:

“the Secretary of State shall have regard to the principles of transparency and accountability in relation to the policing costs that are reasonable to be born by the aerodrome manager.”

As was alluded to in earlier debates, there must also be regard to

“whether an alternative police provider would have made different operational resource judgements based on the identified risks” and to

“whether an alternative police provider would have provided those resources at a lower cost.”

In short, the purpose of the amendment is to tease out once again the transparency of policing costs and the requirements that must be met in that regard.

The Minister should give a full reply to this debate because cost is an issue that most concerns those who have contacted Committee members. What has struck me is not that aerodrome managers and operators are going to die in the ditch over the concept that they have to cough up for policing. Some think that it is totally iniquitous, but many believe that the principle in the Bill is sound. However, they wish to ensure that any payments they must make are levied in a transparent way. I gave examples earlier of operators who have suggested that under the current regime some police forces will merely say, “This is a security risk and this is the level of policing. Now pay your money.” The purpose of the amendment is to tease out how we might improve the current regime, which appears to be inadequate for many operators.

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The amendment is clearly designed to ensure that the Secretary of State’s determination in resolving disputes about policing at aerodromes is transparent, fair and proportionate and that it provides value for money. Those are the very factors that were considered in drafting the schedule so I understand why the hon. Gentleman wants to ensure that it has that effect. As I mentioned, stakeholders in industry and the police have welcomed the decision to change the final arbiter in disputes from a panel of independent experts to the Secretary of State for Transport precisely because they believe that it will provide sufficient accountability for decisions and will be fair and proportionate.

The amendment seeks to achieve the desired outcome by placing specific requirements on the Secretary of State, which we believe add no value to provisions that already provide broad powers to ensure that a fair and thorough determination is made.

Proposed new section 29C (5) is drafted in broad terms to allow the Secretary of State to gather information from relevant parties, whoever those may be. That extends to the airport operator and the police as well as other relevant organisations. The measure was included to ensure that the relevant police force supplies information on resourcing, as described in the amendment under proposed section 29C (8). By using powers under proposed new section 29C (5), the Secretary of State will look for clear evidence that police resources are justified in making any determination. Prescribing the specific types of information that the Secretary of State should consider is unnecessary as those powers are already in the Bill.

The amendment seeks to ensure that the police do not impose an unreasonable level of their resources at the airport, which the aerodrome manager will be required to pay for. It is also about ensuring that airports receive value for money, and we understand that. The Government are conscious of those issues, which is partly why we are instituting an end-to-end process for security planning that builds in collective agreement for the necessary security measures based on agreement between all those with an interest in airport security.

The Government believe that subsections (9) and (10) to proposed new section 29C should not be included in the Bill. We all agree on the principles of transparency and accountability and they run through the entirety of the current provisions. The act of producing a risk report and an airport security plan to support security decisions—both of which will be available to all relevant parties—is wholly transparent and provides a clear set of accountabilities. The amendment would provide no added value as such measures already exist.

Subsection (10)(a) to proposed new section 29C would create a hypothetical situation whereby the Secretary of State would need to consider whether another police force would have made different operational resource decisions. It would not be possible do that adequately without asking another police force to make such a judgment. That would be impractical since the other force would not have been privy to the discussions and arrangements that led to the final decision. It would have to go back to the start, take evidence and weigh it up. Therefore, the process would be time-consuming and could leave the Secretary of State in a dilemma as to which force’s view should be given greater credence.

If, however, the Secretary of State feels that such advice would be helpful, that can be pursued under the existing provisions as drafted in the schedule. It would  not be appropriate for the legislation to prescribe that in every instance when it is not relevant to the dispute. If accepted, the amendment would require the Secretary of State to consider whether another police force would have provided resources at a lower rate. That implies that policing of airports is a competitive, commercial venture—that was the discussion that we had at the beginning of the debate on the amendments tabled by the hon. Member for Bury St. Edmunds.

Resourcing costs are calculated on numerous factors such as shift patterns, management structures and the like, which may vary from force to force. The costs must reflect the circumstances of each force and the Secretary of State must consider those factors when determining if something is proportionate, rather than considering whether another force could have provided the resources more cheaply.

The schedule is designed to ensure that the procedures followed by the Secretary of State in determining a dispute are impartial and transparent, and that the determination is fair and proportionate. Comprehensive guidance material will clarify the more detailed issues raised by the amendment. I therefore invite the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his amendment.

Photo of David Ruffley David Ruffley Shadow Minister (Home Affairs)

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 6:30 pm, 24th February 2009

I beg to move amendment 303, in schedule 5, page 134, line 35, at end insert—

‘10A Omit section 30 (supplementary orders).’.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

With this it will be convenient to discuss Government amendments 304 to 306.

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Amendments 303, 305 and 306 provide for section 30 to be repealed with saving provisions to ensure that any orders made under the section are preserved. In practice, section 30 has principally been used where airports have been designated to effect the transfer of private forces to local Home Office constabularies and to make associated arrangements. The relevant orders date back to the late 1970s. As the aviation security provisions in the Policing and Crime Bill will remove the concept of designation, there is no longer any need for the Secretary of State to retain such a power.

Amendment 304 ensures that a standard definition is employed in schedule 5 wherever the phrase

“dispute about the policing of a relevant aerodrome” occurs in the provisions. I beg to move the amendments.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments made: 304, in schedule 5, page 134, line 41, at end insert—

‘(ba) before the definition of “immigration officer” insert—

‘“dispute about the policing of a relevant aerodrome” has the meaning given by section 29A(2);”,’.

Amendment 305, in schedule 5, page 136, line 24, at end insert—

‘14 (1) The repeal of section 30 of the 1982 Act by paragraph 10A of this Schedule does not affect—

(a) the validity of an order made under that section (“a section 30 order”) before commencement, or

(b) the operation of subsections (4) and (5) of that section in relation to such an order.

(2) In relation to any time on or after commencement, any reference in a provision of a section 30 order to a designated airport is (if that provision is capable of having continuing effect) to be read as a reference to a relevant aerodrome.

(3) In this paragraph “commencement” and “the 1982 Act” have the same meanings as in paragraph 13.’.—(Jim Fitzpatrick.)

Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.