Lord Gascoigne debates involving the Home Office during the 2019 Parliament

West Midlands Combined Authority (Transfer of Police and Crime Commissioner Functions) Order 2024

Lord Gascoigne Excerpts
Wednesday 13th March 2024

(3 months, 1 week ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Watch Debate Read Debate Ministerial Extracts
Lord Snape Portrait Lord Snape (Lab)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, as a resident of Birmingham, a few weeks ago a publication called the Birmingham Champion came through my front door. My noble friend Lord Bach referred to the Mayor of the West Midlands as a Conservative. He and I know that he is a Conservative because we take an interest in these matters. The Birmingham Champion is all about the mayor. The one word that is missing from it is “Conservative”, except for one mention—I must be frank about this. With my best spectacles on and under a bright light, I find that the printer’s imprint says, “On behalf of the West Midlands Conservative Association”, but there is no other mention of the Conservative Party. There are no less than seven pictures of the mayor and six stories where he claims the credit for saving the European championship, a training revolution with 100,000 new jobs, bus passenger numbers rising and routes protected. I used to be chairman of the bus company. I had not realised that the mayor had so much power.

Lord Gascoigne Portrait Lord Gascoigne (Con)
- Hansard - -

I hate to have to do this, but I ask the noble Lord to pay attention to what is in the Companion about the use of props when giving speeches. It is not advised. With respect, can he please give his speech—

None Portrait Noble Lords
- Hansard -

Oh!

Lord Gascoigne Portrait Lord Gascoigne (Con)
- Hansard - -

Order. I am quoting what is in the Companion.

Lord Snape Portrait Lord Snape (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I need no lectures from the party opposite about propriety. I have been in this Chamber for a lot longer than the noble Lord. Can he sit down and hear me?

--- Later in debate ---
Lord Gascoigne Portrait Lord Gascoigne (Con)
- Hansard - -

With respect, order. I am not giving a lecture from the Conservative Party Benches but about what is in this book—which is not written by the Conservative Party. Please, bear with me. In chapter 4 of the Companion, which is not written by any political party, paragraph 4.19 says:

“Members should not bring into the Chamber … books and newspapers”.


I do not mind the noble Lord making his points but, with respect, please do not do this.

Lord Snape Portrait Lord Snape (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The noble Lord has wasted quite a few minutes telling me that. It is not a newspaper; it is a publication on behalf of the Conservative Party, but I will cite it from memory: seven different pictures of the mayor and six stories for which he claims credit —over which the mayor has little power, but that has not stopped him. Now he wants to take on the police and crime commissioner’s role. I ask noble Lords how he can fit that role in given all his other duties.

I remind the party opposite, particularly the Minister, that the Labour police and crime commissioner was elected in a democratic election in 2021. The proposals from the Government to merge the two jobs are typical of their attitude towards democracy. When it comes to national elections, the Government insist, with no evidence to back it up, that identification must be provided. When it comes to elections in this city, they change the system. They cannot win in a PR system, so they insist on first past the post. This, in the West Midlands, is just another example of their cavalier behaviour regarding democracy.

I repeat that I do not believe that the mayor and the crime commissioner are roles that should be combined. The mayor insists that the West Midlands Police being in special measures is somehow the fault of the police and crime commissioner. Both sides of this House know full well that the police and crime commissioner has no operational control over the police force. That the police force is in special measures is in no way related to the capabilities of the police and crime commissioner anyway.

What worries me about this power grab on behalf of the Conservative Party is where we will go as far as the West Midlands is concerned if the jobs are combined and the police and crime commissioner finds that he does not have the time or space to do the mayoral role as well. Obviously, given that the Government have already overthrown—or intend to overthrow—the result of an election, the answer is not very far.

I have a vision of the future so far as the West Midlands is concerned. I do not know whether the West Midlands Police band is still in existence, but given the propensity for publicity of the outgoing mayor, I can imagine that band, if it exists, marching down Broad Street in Birmingham, led by the mayor and police and crime commissioner in his best uniform banging a big drum to a patriotic tune—“Lillibullero” perhaps—and blowing his own trumpet in the way that only he can.

This is a power grab; it ought to be resisted, and I will be supporting my noble friend’s amendment. I am grateful for the reference to the Companion from the noble Lord opposite. When he has been here a few more years, he might know better.