Members of the House continued examining the establishment and role of the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour) opened the debate with an amendment to Schedule Two which details the NCA framework document and annual report. She called upon the government to give a framework 'by order' for the proposed NCA to 'set out the detail of how the agency will be arranged'. She asked if the government 'will set out a clear framework for how PCCs and chief constables relate to the NCA and... how they balance local against national priorities'.
Lord Henley (Conservative), the government minister, responded: 'We have provided in Schedule Two for the framework document to be laid before Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly, as the NCA will cover all parts of the United Kingdom'. He went on to say that both Houses of Parliament will get a chance to look at the outline document and tried to promise that members of the Lords will have at least an outline by report stage.
'This House has a duty to do its job, which is to scrutinise legislation. It is being hampered in doing so by not having the documents', Baroness Smith of Basildon then argued. 'I withdraw the amendment at this stage, but this is a subject to which we will be returning,' she said.
Schedule Two was agreed after further debate and proposed amendments were withdrawn for committee stage pending further discussion in report stage.
Lord Henley proposed Amendment 45 to Clause Seven which relates to the disclosure of information to and by the NCA. He explained that the amendment 'creates a separate gateway for the onward disclosure' of information which may prevent or detect crime. Amendment 45 was agreed and the following amendment which sought to debate whether it should be included in the bill was also agreed.
Members also debated the NCA's role with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). Lord Henley assured the members that 'child protection will run throughout the National Crime Agency'. He explained the CEOP will 'retain its operational independence in the context of the NCA'.
Members will continue its line by lines examination in day three of committee scheduled for 25 June.
About the Crime and Courts Bill
The bill was introduced in the House of Lords at its first reading stage (formal introduction) on 10 May. It aims to establish the National Crime Agency and suggests abolishing the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the National Policing Improvement Agency.
It also examines the structure, administration, proceedings and powers of courts and tribunals and addresses issues like border control and drugs and driving.
What is committee stage?
Detailed line by line examination of the separate parts (clauses and schedules) of the bill takes place during committee stage. Any member of the Lords can take part.
It usually starts no fewer than two weeks after the second reading and can last for one to eight days or more.
The day before committee stage starts, amendments (changes) are published in a marshalled list – in which all the amendments are placed in order. Amendments on related subjects are grouped together and a list (groupings of amendments) is published on the day.
During committee stage every clause of the bill has to be agreed to and votes on the amendments can take place. All proposed amendments can be discussed and there is no time limit, or guillotine, on discussion of amendments.
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