Clause 8 - Director General: customs powers of Commissioners and operational powers

Part of Crime and Courts Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 8:55 am ar 29 Ionawr 2013.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Jeremy Browne Jeremy Browne The Minister of State, Home Department 8:55, 29 Ionawr 2013

The right hon. Gentleman is correct that some preliminary work has taken place; it would be difficult to constitute the NCA in a matter of weeks from a standing start. Of course, SOCA still exists—in fact, I had a meeting with the leading officers in SOCA just a day or two ago to talk about their ongoing operations and activities. We are waiting until Parliament has granted its full approval—assuming that it does—for the NCA before we are in “all systems go” mode and can put every single arrangement in place.

I do not know whether it is appropriate to talk about Keith Bristow. The powers in the Bill will last beyond the appointment of any specific individual, although Mr Bristow’s background is clearly in the powers of a constable, rather than the customs or immigration powers. His successor may have a background, and therefore greater expertise, in a different field, and not necessarily  have a background in the powers of a constable. The director general will oversee the work of the NCA and its operational leadership, regardless of whether he or she has designated powers in all three of those areas. He or she might feel it is helpful to have those powers and the Home Secretary might agree with that assessment, so it might be a good idea for the director general to acquire additional skills and training and for an advisory panel to judge whether the director general has reached a satisfactory level of attainment, but the decision on that arrangement will be based on the competence, knowledge and background of the individual concerned.

I do not want the Committee to get the impression that the NCA under the leadership of Keith Bristow will be able to operate only in certain fields because his background is in one area and not in another. He will still be able to manage and run the organisation for which he will be responsible.