Small Government reshuffle in the Lords prompts complete drivel from Number Ten

I am genuinely sorry to hear that Baroness Browning is standing down as Minister of State at the Home Office (particularly so as I understand this is on health grounds).  Despite the lengthy (even epic) exchanges that I and others had with her during the passage of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill (now an Act), she always responded with good humour, even when she was having to defend something that was either indefensible or so poorly drafted as to be incomprehensible.  I think her approach will be missed in the Home Office.

Her retirement has triggered a mini-reshuffle in the House of Lords: Lord Henley is promoted to Minister of State rank and moves across from DEFRA to the Home Office; his place as DEFRA Parliamentary Under Secretary is taken by Lord Taylor of Holbeach; and his postion as a Junior Whip is taken by recent-appointee Baroness Stowell of Beeston.

Fairly straightforward you might think, but that doesn’t prevent the Number Ten website mangling the information and implying that all three have been thrust into Ministerial office and appointed as members of the Lords at the same time under the headline:

New appointments to the House of Lords made by the Queen

Can’t they afford proof-readers now?

An indication of differing approaches in the Home Office?

Lord Henley replaces Baroness Browning

A tied vote means that the Government’s Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill will get Royal Assent tomorrow and become law

The House of Commons put Police and Crime Commissioners back into the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill on Monday and the Bill came back to the House of Lords to consider the Commons Amendments this afternoon.

The main “concession/u-turn” from the Government was to propose that the first elections for Police and Crime Commissioners outside London should take place in November 2012 instead of May as originally planned.  This will cost an extra £25 million as the elections will not coincide with any other elections and is likely to lead to a low turn-out.  As the Electoral Commission pointed out:

“We believe Parliament should be aware of the following additional risks and issues arising from a 15 November election before deciding on the date:

? A November election will coincide with the annual canvass of electors. While there will be a number of options available to each Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) in updating their registers during this period, it is possible that different approaches may be adopted across different areas of the country, possibly resulting in inconsistent practice within a single force area. This could present risks to the accuracy and integrity of registers used for the PCC elections and for the elections in May 2013. The Government should therefore make clear how it intends to ensure consistency of approach in managing this process.

? There are almost half as many daylight hours on 15 November compared with early May and there is also the increased likelihood of inclement weather. It is possible (though not proven) that such conditions could discourage some electors from participating in the election and limit campaign activities by candidates. We would therefore be interested to know what the Government’s assessment of this issue has been in selecting this date.

? Standalone elections will incur greater costs than elections combined with other elections. The Government should quantify the additional expense and ensure that Returning Officers are adequately resourced to ensure that the elections are well-run.”

There was a three hour debate on the Bill – occasionally heated by House of Lords standards.  My contribution was as follows:

“My Lords, I rise to speak to Motion A4 in my name but, before doing so, I repeat my declaration of interests. I am a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority—indeed, on that authority I am the noble Baroness’s representative, whose every word I clearly follow in every aspect of these matters—and I am a vice-president of the Association of Police Authorities.

I listened very carefully to the arguments that the Minister put forward on the legislation and the proposals. The Government’s proposals are about clear and democratic governance. The noble Baroness made the point that your Lordships’ House is a revising Chamber. However, the question that I have to ask is: where are the revisions that respond to one of the most profound concerns expressed in the debates throughout the lengthy period over which your Lordships considered this Bill—that is, where is the sound framework of governance around this single individual who is going to exercise these substantial powers?

I understand the Government’s desire for clarity in the direct election of this single individual. However, although I understand the argument, that does not mean that I agree with it. Around that individual must be a proper framework of governance. What is more, there must be a proper standards regime around the way in which that single individual operates. This is not a member of a committee or a council who can perhaps be hauled into line by the other members; it is a single individual exercising those powers, and therefore it is paramount that there should be a standards regime around them.

The major change brought forward from the other place by the Government is the date of the elections. I do not intend to go into detail on that, although I will say a word about it. That change does not deal with the fundamental question about governance and standards; it simply alters the date. I say in parenthesis that, as a member of a police authority who has sat through 11 budget-making exercises and is well into the 12th as we speak, electing someone on 15 November and expecting them seriously to influence the process for the budget for the following year—given that an absolute date is set by which precepts must be levied so as to allow the district authority or whatever else it may be to deal with the matter—is nonsense. If you are to change the shape of the budget of an organisation as complex as a police service, you need to start a lot earlier than 16 November. You probably need to start as soon as the previous year’s budget has been finalised in May and June. I know that colleagues in the police authority in London have been meeting throughout August and are continuing to meet to look at the details of the budget for next year. An election on 15 November and someone taking office then is far too late. Essentially, you are electing police and crime commissioners who will be held responsible for a budget which in practice they will have had no opportunity to influence other than in the crudest and most simplistic form. Therefore, that is not going to resolve the matter.

Another consequence of changing the dates is that the Home Office will have to look at whether independent members of police authorities whose terms of office expire in the summer of next year should have their terms of office extended or whether instead there will be a process of advertising in order to fill those posts. I am sure that the Home Office has all this in hand, but I suspect that, again, we will find that this is going to be an additional expense or something cobbled together at the last moment. The key point is that changing the date does not provide a robust governance structure. It does not provide protections against an individual who, while not being an extremist but perhaps exuberant with their power, exercises their responsibilities in what is perhaps a maverick fashion. That governance is necessary.

The Government’s response both today and on previous occasions has been fourfold. The first argument is that the electorate in its wisdom will make sure that such people are not elected. I believe in elections because they are the best available system for managing something—except, perhaps, your Lordships’ House. But the point remains that elections take place at a certain point in time. If the noble Baroness has her way, they will take place on 15 November next year. It will then be three and a half years, or whatever period is chosen, before the electorate can put right something that has gone wrong. You need to have around an individual with such powers a mechanism which can ensure that they continue to operate appropriately and within a system of governance.

The second argument deployed by the Government is that the police and crime panel will be able to exercise these functions, but the reality is that although there has been a change that will require it to collaborate with and support the police and crime commissioner, nothing here enables it to get involved while a decision is being taken. That is the point at which intervention is so important.

The third argument made again by the noble Baroness today is that nothing in the legislation would preclude a police and crime commissioner from perhaps having non-executives and obeying the strictest guidelines on governance. Yes, nothing in the legislation prevents it, and I am sure that most sensible police and crime commissioners will do all that, but it is the ones who do not do it who are precisely the ones about whom we should be concerned. For that reason, there should be a provision that requires them to have proper systems of governance.

The other argument the Government have deployed is that there will be an audit process. That is fine, and so there should be. But, again, an audit process takes place after the event. The Government will say that they are proposing a financial code of practice. That is excellent, but what they are actually doing, of course, is remedying an error in the Bill. A financial code of practice already exists, but they forgot about it so far as police and crime commissioners are concerned, so they have remedied the error. It is quite proper that it should be corrected, but in itself that will not solve all the problems. My amendment, which is modest and does not undermine the principle the Government are trying to adopt or stop in its tracks the election of police and crime commissioners, whenever that may be, says only that the vehicle of the financial code of conduct should require there to be a non-executive presence around police and crime commissioners when they take key financial and other decisions, and that they should be obliged to follow a proper process of good governance and appropriate standards of behaviour—something that is otherwise missing from the Bill.

I believe that this Bill is not necessarily the best solution to the problems of governance of the police service. That is an understatement which is meant to be ironic and not taken too seriously. But the point is that, as the Bill stands at the moment, it will not even do what the Government want it to do. It will store up problems for the future, and the reality is that it is more likely that there will be problems with a police and crime commissioner who behaves inappropriately or does not operate the best systems of governance. This proposal is a safeguard, not only for the public and the police service, but also for the Government. It will make sure that what they are proposing today does not blow up in their faces.”

In the event, the key vote turned out to be on a motion from Lord Condon, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, who proposed that the elections should take place in May 2013 and not in 2012 at all.    In his speech he said:

“My Lords, I again declare my interest as a life member of the Association of Chief Police Officers. I am also deputy chairman of a major private security company. I thank the Minister for her generous comments and the courtesy she and her colleagues have shown me throughout the consultative process for this Bill.

The Government originally proposed that the first elections for police and crime commissioners should take place in May 2012. However, by amendment in the other place on Monday, it is now proposed that the first elections should take place in November 2012, to allow more time to prepare.

In August we had the most serious riots and looting that we have experienced in this country for 30 years. In London, we had the most serious looting in living memory. Those events and the concerns about their causes and remedies have weighed heavily on my thinking over the past few weeks and have been instrumental in my proposals referred to in Motion A2.

There are very strong operational reasons, sensible policy reasons and significant cost reductions for moving the elections from November 2012 to May 2013. That is why I have put forward this Motion. If my proposed Amendments 6E to 6H are agreed they will simply move the elections from November to May 2013.

The changes to police governance and accountability set out in the Bill are the most profound since the Metropolitan Police Act 1829. They are not the product of widespread public pressure for change or the product of a royal commission or judicial inquiry. They did not benefit from a pre-legislative scrutiny process. The proposals are an experiment and a political act of faith. Many in your Lordships’ House have expressed serious concern during the passage of the Bill, and, to be honest, I do not think that those concerns have been fully assuaged at all. However, I am not seeking to re-challenge today the principle of the election of police and crime commissioners, which is clearly at the heart of the Bill. I have no wish to challenge that principle.

However, it is in the public interest to put back the elections by a further six months to May 2013. Change of the magnitude proposed by the Government, if it must go ahead, should be given the best chance to succeed by proper preparation and planning. The Government have already accepted the principle for more time by moving the elections from May to November, but the whole of 2012 should be free of the politics of campaigns and elections for police and crime commissioners. Senior police officers, their police forces and all those connected to them should not, in the face of the riots, now face this major diversion of their time and focus in 2012, which will be one of the most challenging operational years for policing in recent history.

The riots and looting in August were the most serious for 30 years. We need to understand what happened and why. The police service needs to review its strategy and tactics. It needs to train more riot-efficient officers. The summer and autumn of 2012 could again be testing times for potential street disorder, and the preparation and briefing of candidates for PCCs in late summer and autumn will be a major diversion of senior police time and focus. I also fear that extremist candidates could benefit from November elections if we have a troubled summer and autumn of street disorder.

The year 2012 is also the Olympic year, and all our forces, not just the Metropolitan Police Service, will be drawn into policing the Games and the associated terrorist threats. The Olympic Games and the Paralympics will extend well into September 2012, and the police service and others will benefit from a further six-month breathing space and preparation time before the PCC elections and all the consequential changes. We all hope for a wonderful trouble-free Olympics, but we must be prepared for and focused on the threats and challenges that will face us right the way through until September next year.

Other serious changes to policing in the next year need to be harmonised with the new structure of elected police and crime commissioners. The Government should embrace the opportunity for some more time to prepare a clear and developed plan for national and international policing issues. The proposed national crime agency remains a disturbingly vague concept and the extent and limit of its remit are not yet settled. Will the national crime agency or the Metropolitan Police be the lead agency to counter terrorism? Just how will cross-border serious crime be combated and by whom? The police service and the candidates for elected police and crime commissioner deserve much more clarity about national structures before they make their local plans and proposals. Motion A2, if agreed, will create a further six months of important planning time for these important events.

Another reason to embrace more planning time is the important review being carried out into policing by Tom Winsor, to which the noble Baroness has already referred. The Government have commissioned him, in part 2 of his review, to make recommendations which could fundamentally change how police officers are recruited and developed. He may well choose to make recommendations which challenge the status quo of a single point of entry; he may well recommend an officer class; he might suggest that the need for all chief constables to start on the beat is no longer relevant; he might suggest a different route to becoming a leader in the police service. I have no inside knowledge as to his proposals, but I know that he and his team are working hard on them and will report in the foreseeable future. Again, an additional six months of thinking time would put the Government in a much stronger position to harmonise and sensibly sequence all these hugely significant changes to policing nationally and locally.

Elections in November 2012 have two further significant drawbacks. The Electoral Commission has already expressed concern about a low turnout in November and I fear that this will favour extreme candidates. It will be a huge blow to the credibility of the new system if a very low turnout in even one police force area allows a far right-wing candidate to succeed, or, indeed, a single-issue zealot from whatever background. The second worrying consequence of a November election is the additional cost of £25 million. I know that the Government have said that this will be found from budgets other than policing, but what an unnecessary waste of money—money I would rather see put back into public services, particularly policing. This money could provide up to 1,000 police or support staff for nearly a year.

No doubt the Minister will argue that the Government have delayed enough and that successful candidates in May 2013 elections would have to wait a further year before they were able to impose their own budget plans—that is what she has said. However, the Government were originally happy to have May elections and they have also stated that the second round of elections for police and crime commissioners, four years from the first, will revert to a May date. Also, police budgets for the next four years are pretty well set in concrete and established as a result of the very understandable, but nevertheless dramatic and unprecedented, cuts to police funding.

In conclusion, I am well aware of the primacy of the other place, but today is the first opportunity your Lordships’ House has had to consider the merits of elections for police and crime commissioners in November 2012. For all the reasons I have put before you, I believe that it is in the public interest—indeed, I believe that it is in the national interest—to build in a little more thinking time, a little more planning time, before the first set of police and crime commissioners is elected. The Government have already accepted the need for more time to prepare; what is now in dispute is whether November 2012 or May 2013 is the more appropriate date.

At earlier stages of the Bill’s passage through this House I was against open-ended or long delay, as it would leave policing in an unacceptable limbo of uncertainty, but my Motion today, if agreed, brings certainty and, I argue, no undue delay. The riots and looting have seriously influenced my thinking over the past few weeks. If we must have these historic changes to policing, let us take a little more time to give the implementation the best chance to succeed. That is what Motion A2 will achieve.”

When his motion was put to the vote, there were 222 Peers in favour and 222 Peers against.  Under the Rules of Procedure this meant that the motion was not passed and the Government got its Bill through – by the narrowest of margins.

The votes broke down as follows:

In favour of Lord Condon’s amendment:

163 Labour Peers

2 Bishops (Bishops of Exeter and Guildford)

2 Liberal Democrats (Baroness Harris of Richmond and Lord Bradshaw)

1 Conservative (Lord Vinson)

54 Cross-benchers and others

In support of the Government:

145 Conservatives

70 Liberal Democrats

1 Bishop

6 Cross-benchers and others

If we end up with the wrong candidate selected as the next Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis, I know who to blame

The four candidates* to be the next Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis are being interviewed by a Panel of members of the Metropolitan Police Authority tomorrow.  This will be the second interview that the candidates have had – last week a Panel of Home Office mandarins led by the Permanent Secretary, Dame Helen Ghosh, put them through their paces. 

The purpose of these first two interviews is to whittle the number of candidates down to, perhaps, two who will then be interviewed by that marriage-made-in-heaven, the Home Secretary Theresa May and Mayor Boris Johnson (the two are rumoured not to like each other) next week.

After that, the Home Secretary will formulate a recommendation to The Queen who will formally make the appointment.

So whose fault will it be if the wrong candidate is selected?

The answer is simple:  Keith Vaz MP.

The astute reader of this blog (I know who you are) will already have realised that the Chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee does not have a formal role in this convoluted appointment process.  So how does he get the blame, I hear you ask.

Keith Vaz has scheduled a hearing of the Home Affairs Committee for tomorrow morning and has summoned before him, not only Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse AM, Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, who would have been chairing the MPA interview panel, but also two of the Commissioner candidates (Tim Godwin and Sir Hugh Orde).

When asked whether these witnesses could be heard on Thursday morning, when the Home Affairs Committee is also holding a hearing, the answer from Keith Vaz was that such a change would not be possible.

The result: the start time of the interviews has been postponed; Kit Malthouse will arrive hot and sticky (do not dwell too long on this image) at the MPA offices having given his evidence and chair the interviews of the two candidates not required by Keith Vaz; and Tim Godwin and Hugh Orde will rush direct from their grilling by the Select Committee to their respective interrogations at the MPA (not necessarily the calm preparation time that people up for one of the most important jobs in the country would normally hope to have).

And, if that doesn’t potentially skew the outcome, the most damaging consequence of the Vaz intervention in the process, is that I will no longer be able to participate in the MPA interviews because of the changed timings.

So, if it all goes wrong, blame Keith Vaz.

*     The four candidates are:

Tim Godwin, the current Acting Commissioner, substantive Deputy Commissioner and former Assistant Commissioner for Territorial Policing.

Bernard Hogan-Howe, the current Acting Deputy Commissioner, substantive HM Inspector of Constabulary and formerly Chief Constable of Merseyside and before that an Assistant Commissioner in the Met.

Steve House, currently Chief Constable of Strathclyde, putative Chief Constable of the proposed all-Scotland Police Service, and before that an Assistant Commissioner in the Met.

Sir Hugh Orde, currently President of the Association of Chief Police Officers, former Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and before that a Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the met.

Total Politics 2011 Blog Awards

I gather that the Total Politics Blog Awards are now in progress.  I want to make it quite clear that I will not be in the least bit affronted should you chose to vote for this blog by clicking here.

Compare and contrast the USAF and RAF missions ….

The Royal Air Force mission statement is:

“‘An agile, adaptable and capable Air Force that, person for person, is second to none, and that makes a decisive air power contribution in support of the UK Defence Mission”.

That is pretty clear and fits in with the RAF image, “The Few” and all that.

By contrast the mission of the United States Air Force is:

 “To fly, fight and win in air, space and cyber space.”

The “and win” bit is maybe a tad more aggressive than making a decisive contribution, but the interesting bit is the inclusion of cyber space.

Now this may be a bureaucratic land-grab with the USAF making a bid for the cyber-security leadership role in the United States Government, but it does pose the question who has the lead for cyber-defence in the United Kingdom?  Answers on a postcard (or email) please. 

Royal Air Force Typhoons

The Norwegian atrocities demonstrate yet again the danger of jumping to conclusions

My good friend and webmaster, Jon Worth, has it absolutely right in his blog written earlier tonight:

“We have known for a few hours that twin attacks have taken place in Norway – an explosion in central Oslo and a series of shootings at Utøya, an island in Tyrifjordento the north east of Oslo where a Labour Party youth meeting was taking place.

Beyond that what do we actually know? Rather little, at least for sure. That’s indeed the position taken by Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg, who was calm and collected in a television statement (can’t find the video of it online), saying it was not known who or what was to blame, the priority was for everyone’s security, and people should remain calm. Spot on, and my good friend Bente Kalsnes who lives in Oslo agrees.

But what do you then get? 24 hour news channels start an endless stream of speculation about what may or may not have happened.”

And his latest update notes:

“Partial volte-face from BBC’s Gordon Corera from BBC’s Live Text? (BST to CET explains time difference)

2211: Gordon Corera Security correspondent, BBC News During the day, after an initial focus on an al-Qaeda link, the possibility of domestic extremism increasingly came into focus. The choice of targets – government buildings and a political youth rally – suggested a possible political agenda rather than the mass casualty approach typically employed by al-Qaeda.

Maybe you should not have been so swift to jump to conclusions at the start?”

It is always worth remembering that in the immediate aftermath of an incident even knowing what has happened may be difficult to determine for some while. Remember the initial reports of a “power surge” on the London Underground on the morning of 7th July 2005.  Or the misreporting of the man who jumped over a ticket barrier wearing a bulky coat at Stockwell Station fifteen days later (he turned out to have been one of the armed police team pursuing the tragically unfortunate Jean-Charles de Menezes rather than a suicide bomber).  Or for that matter the initial reports assuming that the Madrid train bombings were ETA-related.

Generals used to talk of “the fog of war”.  But rolling media with their desperate need for an endless supply of talking-head experts create their own fog.  I was in New York on 9th September 2001, sitting in a diner listening to a feed from one of the New York radio stations, when first one “expert” opined that the attacks on the World Trade Center could have been so much worse – “suppose those airliners had been packed with anthrax spores” – which prompted the radio station to produce another “expert” fifteen minutes later to tell listeners what the symptoms of anthrax were and what they should do if they started to have difficulty in breathing ….

This is not to suggest that the media should be censored in the aftermath of atrocities like those today, but rather that media editors and presenters should be responsible and avoid speculation until more facts are known. Maybe, given the excitements about the News of the World and the British media over the last few weeks, the idea of the media acting responsibly looks like a forlorn hope.  However, I do not believe it is an unreasonable aspiration.

The dramatic events of the last few days suggest there should be a pause before the Police Reform Bill is finalised

The dramatic events of the last few days have engulfed the Metropolitan Police in crisis.  Those events have highlighted the importance of strong and robust governance arrangements for policing.  And they have also called into question whether the Government’s proposals in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill are going to be fit for purpose. 

I highlighted one example when the House of Lords considered the Home Secretary’s statement on recent events yesterday afternoon:

“My Lords, I declare an interest as a current member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, and associate myself with the very positive remarks that the Minister has made about Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates. However, given what she has just said about the referrals to the IPCC, perhaps she could ponder for a moment what the circumstances of today would have been had the Bill currently before this House been passed.

The Metropolitan Police Authority sub-committee on professional standards met this morning to consider complaints against named officers. It considered those complaints, and, as the Minister has just reported to the House, it made recommendations in one instance that an officer be suspended, and in other instances that matters now be investigated by the IPCC. Under the Bill which she is steering through this House, that would not happen. Any allegations against individuals would be considered by the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis or the Chief Officer of Police outside-of course the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis has now resigned-who would then decide whether something should be investigated or another officer suspended. Surely the interests of openness and public support for the process demand that there be some independent structure to handle complaints and consideration of whether an inquiry should be opened. That will disappear under this Bill.”

In responding to the statement for the Opposition, Lord Philip Hunt spelt out why a rethink was needed:

“What are the implications of the Home Secretary’s proposals to bring in American-style elected police and crime commissioners? The nearest Britain has to an elected police chief-the London mayor-did not stop these problems at the Met. If anything, he made them worse. Boris Johnson described the phone hacking allegations as “codswallop”. He went on to say:

“It looks like a politically motivated put-up job by the Labour party”.

What backing does the Minister think that Sir Paul Stephenson and John Yates could have expected from the mayor if they had decided to reopen an investigation that he described as politically motivated? The truth is that the elected mayor made it harder, not easier, for the Met to get to the heart of this issue. The Mayor of London is now looking forward to working with his third police commissioner in his current term. To lose one commissioner is a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness. Above all, it shows the risks of the closeness of the relationship between politicians and operational policing.

I come to the implications of all of this on the police Bill, which we are told is based on experience in London. In light of what has happened, I would ask the Minister for a pause in consideration of the Bill, currently due for Third Reading in your Lordships’ House on Wednesday. Whatever the ups and downs of the British police force over the decades, its political impartiality has shone out to international acclaim. However, this Bill threatens a disaster. Party political commissioners to be elected in nine months’ time risk undermining the very impartiality of which we are so proud. The Bill threatens the politicisation of operational policing; and it threatens a huge loss of public confidence in the untrammelled power given to party political commissioners to appoint or to dismiss chief constables at will.

The London situation is particularly worrying. As Sir Paul said in his statement today, the Met faces extraordinary challenges: the phone hacking investigation, the public inquiries, the inquiries that the Home Secretary announced today; its responsibility in counterterrorism and national security issues; and the Olympics. There is now huge disruption in the senior ranks of the force with the resignation of the commissioner and Mr Yates. What are the Government doing to stabilise the situation? They are introducing legislation to scrap the Metropolitan Police Authority, threatening yet more disruption. That is the last thing that the Metropolitan police force needs now. I believe that Third Reading of the police Bill should be postponed so that the consequences of the proposed legislation can be seen in the context of this week’s very disturbing events. Will the Minister agree to that?”

Others also made the case for a pause:

Baroness Smith of Basildon: My Lords, when it became clear that there was no widespread public or professional support for the health Bill, the Prime Minister wisely stepped back and paused the Bill for consideration. What I find incredible in the noble Baroness’s answers is that she does not seem to think that the events of the past couple of weeks have had any impact on, or should be considered in any way in connection with, the police Bill. Will she take this away and think about it? People across the country who support the Metropolitan Police will find it incredible if these events do not impact on deliberations on the Bill. The best thing now would be for the Bill to be paused for consideration, and for the Government then to come back with more effective and thought-out proposals.


Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, would it not be infinitely preferable for the Government, and particularly the Minister, to consider the events of the past few hours and days with some calm, and therefore to postpone reflection on the Bill until the Government have had a chance to come to a sensible reaction?

So what was the Government’s response?

“The Government believe very firmly that chief officers should be held to account, on behalf of the public, by police and crime commissioners for the way in which they conduct business-not operational business-in their force. The public have been the losers in all this. They have lost confidence, and we believe that the police and crime commissioners, on behalf of the public of their police force area, are the answer to ensuring that the police are held to account both for the way in which they tackle crime and for the way in which they prioritise and carry out what the public want, which is a reduction in crime. …. I suspect that there will always be a difference of opinion between this Bench and that Bench, as there was when the Bill came to the Floor of the House, so I am not in a position to say to the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, that we intend to defer Third Reading of the Bill, which has reached its final stages now, having gone through another place and had a great deal of scrutiny in this place.”

I think that is a “no” then.

The House of Lords will therefore consider the Bill at Third Reading (effectively the last moment when detailed changes can be made) on Wednesday – the last day before the Summer Recess – and it will go back to the House of Commons in September.

Ministers ignore warnings from all sides about disrupting policing during the Olympics

Late last night the Government was urged both by Liberal Democrat and Labour Peers to avoid disrupting policing during the Olympics.  Did they heed the warnings?  In a word, “no”:

“Amendment 206A

Moved by Baroness Doocey

206A: After Clause 50, insert the following new Clause—

“Transitional arrangements

(1) The provisions of sections 1 to 50 are subject to this section.

(2) Sections 1 to 50 shall not come into effect until 1st October after the first ordinary elections under section 51 have taken place.

(3) The Secretary of State shall make regulations to ensure that the police authorities established for police areas under section 3 of the Police Act 1996 (establishment of police authorities) and the Metropolitan Police Authority continue to exercise their functions until such time as the provisions of sections 1 to 50 come into effect.”

Baroness Doocey: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendment 310. The purpose of Amendment 206A is to delay the implementation of Clauses 1 to 50 until October 2012 and to allow for a transitional period. During the period until then, the existing arrangements will continue to operate, so in London the Metropolitan Police Authority will continue to exercise its functions until such time as the provisions of Sections 1 to 50 come into effect. The purpose of Amendment 310 is also to move the implementation of this Bill in London from December this year to October next year.

The Government and the Mayor of London are keen to introduce the new system as soon as the Bill receives Royal Assent. The Bill as it stands would allow this to happen. The Government’s prime duty is to keep London and the country safe. Therefore implementation should be timed optimally to ensure that the transition does not compromise public safety. When we consider issues around public safety, we need to bear in mind that there are some very significant events in 2012. We will have the Olympic Torch Relay from May to July, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in June, the Olympic Games in July and August and the Paralympic Games in September. These major events will require a policing operation on an unprecedented scale, so it is difficult to understand why the Government are hell-bent on implementing the changes before these events take place.

My main concern is the policing of the Olympic Games. The Metropolitan Police has described the Games as one of the,

“biggest security challenges the British police have ever faced in peacetime”.

Presidents, kings and queens, heads of state and athletes from all over the world will come together. Their protection will require a security operation of extraordinary complexity. In order to meet this challenge, the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office have spent years planning for every eventuality. As circumstances develop and situations change, these plans are subject to continual revision. The vast majority of Olympic events will take place in London and police officers will be drafted in from every police force in the country to help with the huge operation. For the Government to force the Metropolitan Police to divert their efforts from the security of the Games to a major reorganisation at this critical time almost beggars belief.

Besides the major events I have listed, there is another important event happening in London next year; namely, the mayoral election in May. This election creates a different but no less significant set of problems. It could result in a change of mayor. The new mayor may have a very different vision for the direction of policing in London. If so, this could confront the Metropolitan Police with yet further disruption before the Games. One wonders if the Government’s unseemly haste may be designed to create a fait accompli ahead of the mayoral election.

Whenever this Bill is implemented, it will require a major reorganisation of the Metropolitan Police. The changes proposed have been described by Sir Hugh Orde, president of ACPO, as,

“some of the most radical changes to police governance since 1829”.

Reorganisations are very disruptive. We all know the anxieties being expressed around the NHS. This particular reorganisation will require the police to change all their reporting structures and to get to know, brief, and get up to speed a completely new set of stakeholders and board members. As anyone who has ever served on a police authority will know, gaining an understanding of policing issues is no easy task; it takes time. Let us not forget that this huge organisational change is to be delivered within a framework and climate of an expected reduction in the Met’s spending of some £600 million by 2014-15. Savings to be delivered this year, of £163 million, have already resulted in a two-year pay freeze for police officers and staff, the withdrawing of special payments for police officers and a review of the terms and conditions of police staff.

The reorganisation will be work-intensive, expensive and time-consuming. It should happen at a time when it does not conflict with the London Olympics, so that the police may concentrate their energies and efforts on the huge security challenges surrounding the Games.

The Government have said on a number of occasions that they want to implement the Bill before the Olympics because the Met is in favour of early implementation. In a previous debate in this House on 16 June, my noble friend the Minister said that,

“not just the Mayor of London but the Commissioner of the Metropolis is also keen for the transition from MPA governance to that of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime as soon as possible after Royal Assent is achieved for this Bill … we have double-checked that there is no real concern with the mayor or the commissioner”.—[Official Report, 16/6/11; col. 1033.]

Well, of course there is no concern from the mayor: he wants the changes before the mayoral elections next May. But what the commissioner actually said to Nick Herbert in his letter of 22 June is:

“London should move forward with the new model as soon as is practicably possible … there are some measures that need to be put in place in order that the new structures can work effectively. Clearly if these cannot be implemented in the time available, the arguments for going early become less compelling”.

This is somewhat different from the Government’s claim that the commissioner is “keen” and that there are no real concerns.

In addition, the commissioner has always been entirely consistent in his view that it is for the Government and Parliament to decide the governance and accountability arrangements for policing, so it is not surprising that he will carry out the democratic wishes of Parliament. It is therefore disingenuous for Ministers to claim that the Metropolitan Police wants early implementation so we must do as it says. Governments ignore the advice of the police whenever it suits them. Detention of suspects is just one example.

A delay until October 2012 is not drastic; it is only a few months later than the Government envisage. By October 2012, Londoners will have enjoyed the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. They will have a mayor who has been elected for four years setting a direction over how London is to be policed. Let us allow this direction to be set in a period of calm, with time to think. Let us also give senior police officers the time and space to prepare for these new directions. We need only to delay these changes for a few months, and London will be a better place for it.

I have no doubt that if the Government go ahead and implement this Bill before October 2012, it will cause serious disruption to the policing of the London Olympics and other major events taking place next year. This proposed reorganisation will cause immense disruption at the worst possible time and compromise the safety of our citizens. I therefore appeal to the Minister, even at this late stage, to reconsider this seriously flawed decision. I beg to move.

10.30 pm

Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, I support the amendment for a number of reasons. First, the Bill is amazingly silent on transitional arrangements. In the immediate aftermath of the vote on the first day in Committee, the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, raised with a degree of interruption and noises off—from me, I appreciate—the question of the transitional arrangements that should be in force before a new system is put in place. I would not go as far as those who reorganised London government in the 1960s where there was one year of shadow operation. But I note that there were several months of shadow operation when the new arrangements in London for the Assembly and the mayor took effect. All the Bill provides for in terms of a transition period is seven days—seven calendar days, one week—for transition from one system of governance to another. That seems strikingly short to me, under any set of circumstances. However, that is the smallest and most insignificant of reasons for supporting this amendment.

My admiration for the Home Secretary grows every day, because of the bravery she shows. In Sir Humphrey Appleby terms, the decisions she is taking on policing are extremely brave. Currently, in policing, there is a most extraordinary agenda of change. There are substantial budget reductions, starting with the current year, and moving through next year and the rest of the CSR period. Major changes are proposed for the terms and conditions of police officers, which will at least cause a degree of stress, uncertainty and confusion, if not downright anger from many police officers. Changes are proposed in the pensions of police officers, which are also causing a substantial degree of distress, concern and anger. That is all happening at the same time as other parts of the public sector are withdrawing various functions from their activities so that more will be expected of the police force.

At the same time, we have the challenge of the Olympics, which is probably the largest policing challenge that has ever been faced in this country, comparing a modern Olympiad with the last time that London hosted the Olympics, in 1948. There is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. Wedged in that very short interval between the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games is the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s largest street festival, involving major policing resources. In the midst of all this, our brave Home Secretary is proposing that we change the governance arrangements for policing in London and the rest of the country.

In supporting this amendment I am not trying to frustrate the Government’s intention. I am simply trying to point out that there are major risks in doing this on that timetable, with one week’s transition. That is all that is envisaged for the rest of the country and it is very unclear when the transition in London might take place. All of that will occur, at a time when all of these other things are going on.

I know that our brave Home Secretary has taken the decision to reduce the security alert status, which is always a brave decision for any Home Secretary because that supposes that you know of everything that might be just around the corner. However, the security situation is that there is a very serious terrorist threat against the Olympic Games. There are enormous public order and security challenges. It is not just al-Qaeda and its affiliates that we should be concerned about. Because of the global interest in the Olympic Games—with an estimated several billion people watching the opening ceremony on television around the world—this is an opportunity for any organisation anywhere in the world, pursuing its local objectives, to get publicity on a global scale. The threat is enormous, and in the midst of it our brave Home Secretary plans to change the governance arrangements for policing.

The amendment is very modest. It does not frustrate the Government’s objectives. It merely says, “At least get the Olympic and Paralympic Games out of the way before you make this change”. Is there any need for further distraction under the circumstances? Is there any need for that degree of disruption? Is it not better to wait for a few short months, which will have the added benefit of allowing a sensible period of transition to the new governance arrangements? I urge noble Lords to support the amendment.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, my recollection of the transition/shadow period for the Greater London Authority was that it was very short and clearly not long enough, but that is not the point I will make tonight.

I sometimes think that, faced with a difficult decision, it is wise to ask oneself, “How will I feel, looking back in six months or a year, if I did or did not do something?”. In this situation, if the Government postpone the changes in London, they will be able to look back a year and a half from now and say, “Phew, that went okay. What damage did we do by not making the changes? Well, none really. What damage have we suffered? Maybe a little to our egos, but does that matter?”. How much better to be in that situation if there has been a problem, which may or may not be related to the changes in governance, than to be told by the noble Lord opposite or my noble friend behind me, “Well, we did warn you”, and for the world to say, “You were warned”.

I do not see a problem if the Government make what is hardly even a concession but more a slight shift in thinking. The balance is between very little on the one hand, and possibly nothing but possibly something catastrophic on the other.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness and my noble friend for raising this matter. The Government’s approach to the Bill is on a par with their approach to other pieces of legislation. We have already seen the debacle of the Public Bodies Bill, and the Government are replicating the approach with the Health Bill. I declare an interest as chair of a foundation trust and as a trainer consultant in the NHS. The NHS is facing the biggest challenge that it has ever faced in reducing its spending and in its efficiency programme. At the same time, the Government are drawing up all the structural bodies that are in place and forcing the health service to devote a huge amount of time to structural issues when it should be focusing on how on earth it will cope with the largest reductions in real-terms funding that it has ever faced.

It seems that the same thing is happening to our police forces. The Government have drawn all the wrong conclusions from the first Blair Administration. They feel that they need to speed on, but destruction is inevitable because of the speed with which they are moving. I can only conclude that it is because no senior Minister in the Government has any experience whatever of running anything. If they had, they would not rush in the way the Government are rushing, with no understanding of the impact on essential public services.

When one considers the challenges facing the Metropolitan Police—I shall not go through the list again but they include: the Olympics; the continuing threat of terrorism; the mayoral elections; the budget reductions; staff issues, to which my noble friend referred, including pensions; and the phone hacking issue—it is obvious that over the next months and years there will be intense scrutiny on the force and its senior officers. There are to be two inquiries into the phone hacking issue, one of which is bound to look in close detail at the actions of the Metropolitan Police. The last thing the force needs during the next two to three years is to cope with a structural change in governance. The noble Baroness’s amendment is eminently sensible, and I hope that even at this late stage the Government will give it sympathetic consideration.

Baroness Browning: My Lords, I reiterate what I have said in previous discussions on this subject to my noble friend Lady Doocey: the commissioner has personally asked the Home Secretary to go as early as possible with London. That is a fact. The commissioner, deputy commissioner, the mayor and deputy mayor are very keen for the London provisions to be commenced as soon as possible.

My noble friend mentioned a letter. That letter outlines issues that the commissioner has flagged up for the Government to look at so that London can go early. The issues in the letter are being looked at and many of them have already been agreed in earlier amendments in the House. We debated earlier today the government amendments to the transitional provisions in the Bill to ensure that the PCCs and the MOPC can operate effectively from the outset and that there is no need for a period of shadow operation. The changes to policing governance do not affect operational control and so will not impact on operational issues.

We are going round this circuit for about the third time. My noble friend may totally disagree with me but I have checked and double checked—as has my right honourable friend the Minister of State in another place—to make sure that our understanding of both the commissioner’s and the mayor’s view on this subject are as we have described them in this House. I can but repeat what I have already said to my noble friend in the House: they are keen to commence as soon as possible and they have in no way sought to delay London.

Baroness Doocey: My Lords, I have listened to the Minister with a very heavy heart because, being an eternal optimist, I had hoped against hope that the Government might take some responsibility upon themselves and say, “We are the Government and we are making the decision. On reflection, we do not think that it is a good idea to put citizens’ lives at risk in order to implement the changes in the Bill immediately”.

I have concluded that I have done everything possible to persuade the Government that this is not only a bad idea but a positively dangerous one. I have also concluded that all my pleas have fallen on deaf ears, and it is with a heavy heart that I feel I have no choice but to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment 206A withdrawn.”

Questions the Metropolitan Police must answer about its relationship with the News of the World, phone-hacking and misuse of police information

I have tabled the following questions for the Commissioner for the next meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority – either at its scheduled meeting on the 28th July or earlier if an emergency meeting of the Authority is called:

(1) Access to police databases.  Does the Directorate of Professional Standards audit access by police officers and staff to the PNC and other police databases to check whether the information accessed is appropriate and relevant to the work of the person accessing the information?  If this is only done in respect of a complaint about an individual officer or staff member, will this now be done more regularly to check all accesses to information from the PNC and other police databases on a sample basis?  If these wider checks are already done, what proportion of accesses to information are checked and will this proportion now be reviewed?

(2) Misuse of police information by police officers and police staff. How many police officers and police staff have been (a) prosecuted, (b) dismissed or asked to resign, or (c) disciplined for misusing police information in each year over the last decade?

(3) Guardian article 6th July.  The Guardian has reported that in November 2002 Rebekah Brooks was confronted at “press social event” in New Scotland Yard by being taken into “a side room” and confronted by Cdr Andre Baker and Dick Fedorcio about News of the World surveillance of DCS Cook.  No futher action was taken about this.  Who was party to the decison to confront Rebekah Brooks in such a fashion and to take no further action?  In particular, was the then Commissioner and the then Deputy Commissioner (a) involved or (b) informed?  What other Assistant Commissioners or DACs were (a) involved or (b) informed? (I can confirm that as the then Chair I was not informed – indeed the first I learned of it was when I read the Guardian’s article.)  Was the team led by Assistant Commissioner John Yates which subsequently reinvestigated the murder of Daniel Morgan aware of this behaviour by the News of the World?

(4) Review of phone hacking case in 2009.  What remit did you give to Assistant CommissionerJohn Yates when you asked him to review the phone hacking case in 2009?  Did you set a timescale on the review?  How soon after you asked him to do the review did AC Yates report back to you?  Were you satisfied when he reported back to you that he had properly fulfilled the remit that you gave him?

My procedural spat with the Leader of the House of Lords

By popular demand (well, to be more exact a number of colleagues apparently enjoyed the procedural wrangle I had yesterday with the Leader of the House, Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy Galbraith, 2nd Baron Strathclyde) I reproduce the whole exchange in which I tried (albeit rather cheekily) to bring forward a debate on the timing of the introduction of the new arrangements for policing –  as recorded in Hansard:

Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Report (2nd Day)

3.07 pm

Clause 4 : Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime 

Amendment 15A

Tabled by Lord Harris of Haringey

15A: Clause 4, page 3, at beginning insert “Subject to section 159(2A)”

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, has the opportunity to move his manuscript Amendment 15A, I need to give the House some procedural advice as Leader of the House-it is a very rare occurrence but one that I need to do. I have to inform the House that the Clerk of Public Bills has written to advise me that this amendment is inadmissible and that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, has tabled it against the advice of the clerks. Paragraph 8.56 of the Companion provides that in such rare circumstances it is for me to ask the House to endorse the opinion of the Public Bill Office, and I readily do so.

I suspect that most Members of the House will not have had an opportunity to consider the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Harris. It reads:

“Page 3, line 14, at beginning insert ‘Subject to section 159(2A)'”.

The Public Bill Office advises me and the House that the amendment is about commencement, not the subject of the clause itself-namely, the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime. The reason the noble Lord, Lord Harris, may have been tempted to attempt this procedural manoeuvre is clear: he is seeking to advance a vote on the commencement of the London provisions of this Bill. That is a matter of political tactics, but tactics, or the policy, are not why I rise to address the House this afternoon. I wish only to deal with a matter of procedure.

4 July 2011 : Column 12

The clerks have advised that this amendment is inadmissible under the Companion and I invite the House not to allow the noble Lord, Lord Harris, to move his manuscript Amendment 15A. The difficulty is of course compounded because the amendment is a manuscript amendment. The Companion also provides that,

    “the disadvantages and inconvenience attaching to the moving of manuscript amendments on Report are even greater than at Committee stage”.

I have to agree that this is not how we should go about our business. In short, the PBO has advised the House that this first amendment is inadmissible and I invite the House to agree. However, I reassure the House and the noble Lord that he will have every opportunity to speak to the issue he wishes to raise in the proper place when Clause 159 is debated. I therefore invite the noble Lord, Lord Harris, not to move his amendment. If he chooses to do so, and the Companion does not prevent him doing so, the amendment is in the hands of the House.

Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, if it is in order, I would like to respond to what the Leader of the House has said. It is very difficult sometimes to determine why particular amendments are moved in a particular way and at a particular time. There were a number of reasons for my seeking the indulgence of the House to put forward this manuscript amendment at this time. The first is the question of relevance. There is a specific proposal at the moment that the implementation and creation of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime should proceed in advance of that for the rest of the country and should take place in October 2011, rather than October 2012. Therefore, my manuscript amendment is designed to make clear that preparations, some of which will be costly, should not go forward at this time.

The second reason I felt it necessary to bring forward the amendment in this way was that I had anticipated that there would be an amendment, either from the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, who moved such an amendment in Committee, or from the Government, about the transitional arrangements for the introduction of the Mayor’s Office, and, indeed, of the offices for policing and crime commissioners. A detailed look over the weekend made it clear that such transitional details were not being put before the House and therefore I thought that it was important that we have this opportunity.

The final reason for putting it before the House is that there are, of course, important security issues associated with this. I am slightly bemused about where we are today because I also tabled an amendment on Friday which does not appear either in the list that we received this morning of amendments supplementary to the Second Marshalled List, nor as a manuscript amendment. It seems to have gone into some void in the Public Bill Office, but it, too, was relevant to this point and might have assisted the House had we had it before us. It was also clear from my manuscript amendment that this related to an amendment later on the agenda in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey. That, I know-and, of course, she will speak for herself should we get to the point of debating this

4 July 2011 : Column 13

amendment-is about security of this country during the Olympics period and whether or not the disruption that will be caused in administrative arrangements is sensible at that time.

Those are my reasons for putting forward this amendment and I hope that the House will agree that they are valid reasons, notwithstanding the inconvenience that I am sure it puts the House to. No doubt the noble Lord will wish to respond and I hope that I will then be able to move my amendment.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I do not think that there is any quarrel about whether or not these issues can be debated. The decision of the clerks is about where the debate should take place. Perhaps I may read out the advice about the grounds of inadmissibility, which is very clear and simple. In the view of the Public Bill Office the manuscript amendment is not admissible on the grounds that it is not relevant to the clause to which it is tabled. That is the first rule under paragraph 8.59 on page 132 of the Companion.

The manuscript amendment would make Clause 4,

“Subject to section 159(2A)”,

as set out in Amendment 310 to Clause 159, which would affect the commencement of Chapters 1 to 6 of Part 1. In the view of the clerks, this amendment is not relevant to Clause 4 as it affects commencement, which is the subject of Clause 159. In addition, Amendment 310 covers Clauses 1 to 79, several of which have already been debated.

My purpose is simply to bring to the attention of the House the strongest possible and clearest advice of the clerks, which is that this is admissible. In parenthesis, I can also tell the noble Lord that a transitional government amendment will be tabled today relating to Schedule 15. It will be debated in its proper place next week. It is up to the House and the noble Lord to decide what he wishes to do with his amendment but the advice from the clerks, and therefore the advice that I give as Leader of the House, is completely clear.

3.15 pm

Lord Harris of Haringey: I am grateful to the noble Lord the Leader of the House for that further clarification. I am grateful also to hear that an amendment on transition is being tabled today. I say, in parenthesis, as was the noble Lord’s point, that this demonstrates the problems we have had with this Bill; that is, the late tabling of government amendments and the problems that we have in terms of determining exactly the intention of the Government in terms of various clauses, which is one of the problems that we all face. No doubt we will hear again an apology from the noble Baroness, Lady Browning, about the problems that the Home Office have faced and we will accept it with the usual good grace.

However, the noble Lord has said that this amendment, in the view of the clerks, is irrelevant to where it is placed. It is placed after the line, which states:

“There is to be a body with the name ‘The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime’ for the metropolitan police district”.

The amendment would insert,

“Subject to section 159(2A)”.

4 July 2011 : Column 14

The amendment is tabled there because currently detailed work is going on about the early implementation and the introduction of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime in the London area. This is in advance of the Bill receiving Royal Assent, with a view to trying to get the implementation from October or shortly thereafter. That is why it is relevant to the place it is in and why I moved it in respect of this line in Chapter 2. It is not irrelevant to that point, which is why I moved it. The clerks may not see the relevance. Perhaps because of the hurried telephone calls that I had while inspecting security arrangements at Heathrow airport this morning, we did not have an opportunity to discuss it in detail. The amendment is about ensuring that we do not press ahead in advance of legislative authority.

May I move the amendment?

Noble Lords: No.

Lord Strathclyde: Before the noble Lord continues, there is no point in having this debate on whether the amendment is admissible. The advice from the clerks is clear. Now the House will need to take a view as to whether the noble Lord should continue.

The Lord Speaker (Baroness Hayman): Perhaps I may be of assistance to the House. At the moment, no other Motion is before the House and the noble Lord’s amendment has been called. Normal procedure would be for him to move his amendment.

Lord Richard: Perhaps the Leader of the House could help me. From the muttering around the House, it would seem that there is a feeling that perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Harris, should not move his amendment in view of the clear indications given by the clerks. However, I am not clear about what the procedure should be now. Should there be a Motion before the House as to whether the amendment should be moved, on which, if necessary, the House can divide? How does it work? I never came across this particular type of issue when I was Leader of the Opposition or Leader of the House, or since. I should be grateful if the noble Lord could enlighten me.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, and indeed to the Lord Speaker.

It is true that there is a lacuna in the procedure and when I discovered this about half an hour ago I suggested that the Procedure Committee should look at it. In the normal course of events, there is an underlying assumption in the Companion that the mover of the manuscript amendment would feel so moved as to not move the amendment. However, as I said earlier, under the terms of self-regulation the amendment is ultimately in the hands of the House. There is no Motion before the House. There is the possibility of a closure Motion or indeed the Motion that the noble Lord be no longer heard. Both are quite heavy-handed. I dare say that if the noble Lord insisted on moving his amendment the House would take a pretty dim view of it, and if he tried to convince the House of the merits of his case I suspect he would not succeed.

4 July 2011 : Column 15

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, can the Leader of the House advise me? I wish to vote in support of my noble friend’s amendment but I am not clear, on the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, the Leader of the House, whether any subsequent Division would be about the procedure or the content of the amendment. If it is about the procedure, surely the Lord Speaker has indicated that the Motion before the House is the amendment, and therefore because I support the amendment I want to support it in a Division. However, I take seriously the advice that has been given, so I am sure the Leader of the House can advise me, even though he might not approve of my voting intentions.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, the proper advice I would give the noble Baroness, who I know is a stickler for such things, is to advise her noble friend not to move the amendment this afternoon, given the very clear advice of the clerks, and to speak to his amendment when it comes up in the proper place later on Report.

Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, I hope I have been of service to the House in identifying a lacuna in the Standing Orders. I hope therefore that this will be an opportunity for us to look in detail at some of these difficult procedures. All I was trying to do was to avoid unnecessary duplicate expenditure in advance of legislative authority and to enable the House to debate the security of the nation. However, the Leader of the House has three times at least reiterated the firm advice of the clerks on this point, and I would be foolish to persist beyond that. I assume, however, if I wished to bring forward this self-same amendment at Third Reading there would now be no objection to me so doing.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I would have no objection so long as the amendment at Third Reading were written according to the rules.

Lord Harris of Haringey: I will take that advice.

Amendment 15A not moved.