Clause 1 - The Agency and its Director

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 13 Tachwedd 2001.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 10:30, 13 Tachwedd 2001

As I said, it is our intention to have a separate office with a specific official appointed to run it. The title that we give to that official is not set in stone. I am happy to reflect on how we give appropriate recognition to that role and to the priority of the work that must be done in Northern Ireland. However, I must tell the hon. Gentleman that deputy director is not the appropriate title. Perhaps we should reflect on whether there should be a named senior official, or perhaps an assistant director, for Northern Ireland. The title should be appropriate and should send out the right messages. The amendment to make the title ``deputy director'' could lead to confusion and make people believe that that role influences matters beyond Northern Ireland, which is wider than expected. I will consider the matter, and will, before Report stage, reflect on the hon. Gentleman's point that the senior official's title should reflect the priority given to work done in Northern Ireland.

The hon. Gentleman asks whether the Secretary of State, rather than the director, should appoint the Northern Ireland official, whatever his or her title. That arrangement would not be the best way to achieve the management accountability necessary for the agency. If the official for Northern Ireland were appointed by the Secretary of State, he or she would be the only member of the agency's staff not appointed by the director. That might create confusion as to whether the Northern Ireland official is accountable to the director or to the Secretary of State.

The official will exercise the director's functions in Northern Ireland, and will receive his or her powers from the director. It makes sense for the director to make the appointment in order to preserve the unity of the agency's management structure. The director will retain overall control of his functions in Northern Ireland. Ministers will be involved in the appointment process, and the director will have to consult the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when making the appointment. We reject amendment No. 1, because the title

``deputy Director for Northern Ireland'' could be confusing. We reject amendment No. 6 because it would make management accountability in the agency difficult. For those reasons, I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.