Clause 29

Part of Protection of Freedoms Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:45 am on 26th April 2011.

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Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) 11:45 am, 26th April 2011

Obviously, the victims commissioner is not a relevant authority, because the relevant authority relates to those persons who are subject to the code. The hon. Gentleman was suggesting that local authorities and police forces were not covered, that their voice did not count and that they were left out and excluded from the Bill. I am seeking to highlight to him that thought has been given to this and that it is addressed in the Bill already.

I recognise the hon. Gentleman’s passion and his desire to ensure that there is appropriate consultation and that the parties involved are properly brought within scope, but I gently point him to the fact that some of the language that he used—although I understand his reasons for using it—was a little wide of the mark. That is particularly true when we take into account the public consultation, which is being undertaken to ensure that the voices and views of as many people as possible are framed in the public engagement. We very much welcome that engagement, which is very much at the core of, and in the formulation and development of, the code.

The hon. Gentleman will say that that does not go far enough, but the Secretary of State can consult other people, and that is very much embodied in the clause, which refers to the people it may be appropriate for the Secretary of State to consult. Members of the groups that the hon. Gentleman has identified may well be considered appropriate. There is not some sort of ring-fencing, with only the people specified in paragraphs (a) to (f) being consulted; there is flexibility in the Bill to accommodate consultation.

I hear the hon. Gentleman’s points, but I repeat that these issues have been dealt with. Indeed, the public consultation, which is already taking place, and which people are still very much able to contribute to, allows people’s voices to be heard loud and clear in the formulation of the code and in its continuing review and development. That is intended very much to promote the confidence that we seek to achieve in establishing it and the CCTV systems that protect us all.