The 3rd day of the Committee Stage of the Police and Justice Bill on Thursday, still did not get as far as debating the controversial Computer Misuse Act amendments.
However, Lord Ramsbotham, the former Army General and former Chief Inspector of Prisons, made a Speech and moved an Amendment against the Government's plans to abolish and amalgamate 5 different supposedly independent inspectorates, into one bloated, centralised "umbrella organisation:
- Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons;
- Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Constabulary;
- Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service;
- Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of the National Probation Service for England and Wales;
- Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Court Administration.
His speech starts at Clause 26 [Appointment of Chief Inspector]
This speech was not merely a case of letting the Government Bill have it with both barrels of a 12 bore shotgun, it was repeated salvoes of Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank 120mm Armour Piercing Fin Stabilized Discarding Sabot depleted uranium kinetic penetrator rounds, which blasted through the pathetic Home Office plan.
Given the past, present and for the forseeable future "not fit for purpose" state of the Home Office and its component agencies, it would be utter madness to further dilute the independence of these existing Inspectorates.
These Inspectorates had been highlighting the problems in the Immigration and Nationality Directorate and the Prisons and the Probation services etc. even though the previous Home Secretaries and senior Home Office civil servants had ignored the warnings, or had been distracted by the latest off the cuff tabloid press headline policies emanating from Tony Blair the Prime Minister
Neither Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service, nor Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Court Administration should have anything to do with the Home Office, which has relinquished these areas of policy regarding the legal system to the Department for Constitutional Affairs.
Even Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen, the Labour peer who thought that "Number 2 ID" was a "sinister" organisation, supported Lord Ramsbotham.
His speech was described by Lord Mayhew of Twysden thus:
"I respectfully say that the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, was the most devastating that I have yet heard in this House. I trust that the Government will think again."
Lord Ramsbotham withdrew his Amendment, despite unanimous support from both sides of the House, except, of course from Baroness Scotland of Asthall, the Government Minister, who vaguely promised some Government amendments at Report Stage after the summer recess.