Fresh defeat for police Bill

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PROPOSALS to end local government control of police authorities by allowing the Home Secretary to appoint half their members were dropped by the Government last night as its beleaguered Police and Magistrates' Courts Bill ran into fresh trouble.

All-party opposition left Earl Ferrers, Minister of State at the Home Office, with no choice but to withdraw the plan or face committee-stage defeat in the House of Lords.

Critics have chipped away at key provisions of the Bill. Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, has scrapped plans to appoint authority chairmen and limit members to 16. The Lord Chancellor, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, climbed down over provisions for performance-related pay and fixed-term contracts for justices' clerks and for the appointment of magistrates' courts committee chairman to be subject to his approval.

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