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Session 1999-2000
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Delegated Legislation Committee Debates

Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 (Amendment of Section 10) Order 2000

Second Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation

Monday 30 October 2000

[Mr. Jonathan Sayeed in the Chair]

Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 (Amendment of Section 10) Order 2000

4.30 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Mr. George Howarth): I beg to move,

    That the Committee has considered the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 (Amendment of Section 10) Order 2000 (S.I. 2000, No. 2024).

I welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Sayeed. I know that you will chair the Committee with your customary good humour and fairness.

The order was laid before the House on 26 July by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, having been made under the urgency procedure on 25 July. The order amends section 10(7) of the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998. The reason why my right hon. Friend found it necessary to lay the order was both unforeseen in the original legislation, and will almost certainly not be repeated.

I cannot give details of the two prisoners concerned as they have both been charged with serious offences while they were on home leave in early July before their scheduled release under the prisoner release scheme. The Committee will understand why it would be inappropriate for me to give more details in those circumstances.

It quickly became apparent that the sentence review commissioners would be unable to reach a decision in the time available before the pending release date. I hope that that is sufficiently clear to enable the Committee to agree to the order.

4.32 pm

Mr. John M. Taylor (Solihull): I second the Minister's welcome to you this afternoon, Mr. Sayeed.

I hope that I will not be ruled out of order for saying this, but the Minister was gracious enough to give me some insight into this matter, and I realise why the interests of justice might not be served by pushing him into saying things that might be prejudicial to on-going arrangements concerning certain persons. He has satisfied me that the Secretary of State has had to deal with what was almost a freak set of circumstances, and that the chances of a recurrence are quite slender. It is clear from the order that there is now another condition to be met, over and above serving two years, namely that there must be an outstanding application for a revocation of the qualifying declaration. One can see that that could be a sensitive circumstance.

I need not extend my remarks beyond the general observation that the official Opposition have no great relish for prisoner releases. We have made those views known to the House on other occasions, so it is unnecessary for me to labour that point.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

    That the Committee has considered the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 (Amendment of Section 10) Order 2000 (S.I. 2000, No. 2024).

    Committee rose at twenty-six minutes to Five o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Sayeed, Mr. Jonathan (Chairman)
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Dowd, Mr.
Flynn, Mr.
Gordon, Mrs.
Howarth, Mr. George
Mackinlay, Mr.
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Perham, Ms
Taylor, Mr. John M.

 
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Prepared 30 October 2000