Crime and Courts Bill

19 June 2012

The House of Lords started its line by line scrutiny of the Crime and Courts Bill yesterday (Monday 18 June) in the first day of committee stage with a debate on the National Crime Agency's (NCA) role.

The first amendments to Clause One of the bill explored the role of the National Crime Agency (NCA) and put forward modifications to its operational and administrative functions.

Lord Harris of Haringey (Labour), chair of the audit panel for the Metropolitan Police and the mayor's office for policing and crime commented on Amendment One on NCA function. He said: 'The National Crime Agency, as proposed, will be a tremendously significant organisation. It will be responsible for ensuring that as a country we deal effectively with the most serious types of crime. In due course, it may be responsible for dealing with terrorism. This is not some minor government body; it is an extremely important part of the arrangements that we put in place to ensure that our citizens are properly protected against serious crime.'

Amendment One was withdrawn for further reflection.

Baroness Hamwee (Liberal Democrat) then moved Amendments Two and Three looking at the NCA's crime reduction function and 'mitigating the consequences of crime'. Amendment Two was withdrawn and Amendment Three was not moved after a response from the minister.

Members then focused on the issue of human trafficking. Lord McColl of Dulwich (Conservative) spoke of the importance of the NCA in tackling the crime in Amendment 3A (later withdrawn). He said: 'How the new National Crime Agency is formed and functions will impact the prevention and policing of human trafficking offences and the protection of victims. I fully appreciate that the government intend for the NCA to have responsibility in the area of trafficking.'  

The role of NCA officers and the Secretary of State's strategic role were then discussed in Lords suggested changes to Schedule One.

Committee stage day two

Lords continues the debate in committee stage day two tomorrow (Wednesday 20 June).

Members will continue to discuss the NCA's function in line by line detail. They will look at policing responsibility, cases where NCA officers may disclose information and the NCA's role with regard to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). 

Last stage: Second reading

About the 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.

Further information

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