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

Part of Crime and Courts Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:15 am ar 29 Ionawr 2013.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Jeremy Browne Jeremy Browne The Minister of State, Home Department 9:15, 29 Ionawr 2013

I hesitate because I cannot immediately think of an individual—although I defer to the two previous Home Office Ministers on the Opposition Benches—who has designated powers as a customs officer, an immigration officer and a police officer. They tend to be different strands of career development, and people will have accumulated knowledge and expertise in the particular strand that they have chosen earlier in their career. To say in advance, when looking to appoint a future director general, that only someone who has accumulated expertise in all three fields would be deemed to be suitable even to put themselves forward would almost certainly limit the field of applicants too greatly.

As I have said, the director general will still be able to oversee the NCA’s operations. Members of the Committee were alarmed that a director general who does not have designated powers in, for example, the field of immigration would have his hands tied in overseeing the immigration function of the NCA. I can put their minds at rest—they should not be alarmed on that score. The director general will take a close interest in all matters regarding the NCA, but he will not be able to exercise the functions of a designated immigration officer if he or she chooses to get their hands dirty on the front line, unless the Home Secretary, following the advice of the advisory panel, has deemed him or her fit to do so.

I would imagine that, in order to extend his or her knowledge, that might be an area in which they could be interested to acquire additional skills and insights, but it will not be a requirement. Clause 8 and schedule 5 lay out the process by which that would happen.