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 Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 11:45 am, 26th April 2011

I thank the Minister for his reply. I note that the Government are consulting on who should be consulted on the code, but I am saying that the Bill is going through Parliament, and it is incumbent on me, as the Opposition spokesperson, to say what I think should be in it.

Amendments 97 and 54 are important. Amendment 54 includes the victims commissioner, whom the Minister has accepted is not included in the scope of the Bill. That voice of the community will not be heard as loudly as others, and that represents a mistake in the drafting of the Bill.

In looking at clauses 29(5) and 33(5), the commissioner would be astonished to find that she—the person established by the previous Government, and accepted by this Government, as the voice of those affected by crime, criminality or antisocial behaviour—is not listed in the Bill in the way that other people are. At best, that is a surprise.

If the Government are setting out to name those they think it is important to include in the Bill, the victims commissioner, in particular, should be added to the list. It is not good enough for the Minister to say that it is sufficient for the clause to allow the Secretary of State to consult others as he or she thinks appropriate. That is particularly true with respect to the victims commissioner.

I would therefore like to test the Committee’s views in separate votes on amendments 97 and 54. As amendment 54 relates to the clause, we do not have to wait until later to get it out of the way.