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Mr. Trimble: We are beginning to get closer to the heart of the matter. The current arrangements are that removal from the posts we are talking about is done by the Lord Chancellor on certain grounds. Of course, in such a situation the Lord Chancellor would be acting judicially, not politically. The provisions that the Government are including take the balance away from the judicial equivalent, which would be the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, and towards the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister. What hitherto has been a power resting in someone who would be acting judicially is being balanced towards people who would be acting politically. That again reinforces other aspects of the Bill, whereby the Government are foolishly opening the door to political influence over, first, the appointment and now the removal of judges.

Mr. Spellar: I am sorry, but I cannot accept that argument from the right hon. Gentleman because the decisions on the removal or otherwise of a judge would be taken by a tribunal, which would involve senior members of the judiciary.

Mr. Trimble: That tribunal would be appointed by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

Mr. Spellar: I am slightly surprised that the right hon. Gentleman is therefore impugning the integrity of members of the judiciary who would be sitting as a tribunal, who would probably include one of the lords justices of appeal, and who could include the Lord Chief Justice. Whether those are appointed by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, or by the Lord Chief Justice, I hope that he was not impugning the integrity of those individual judges in taking a proper, fair and impartial decision, irrespective of who had appointed them to chair the tribunal.

Mr. Trimble: The tribunal will be appointed by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. Of the three persons involved, there is only an absolute requirement that one of them should hold a judicial office.

Mr. Spellar: Certainly, however, they would have enormous influence. It is really a question of whether their decision as members of the tribunal should stand, or whether the Lord Chief Justice should have a veto. That reflects nothing about the Lord Chief Justice. The issue is merely whether, within the system, one individual should have the right either to appoint unilaterally or indeed to prevent the dismissal unilaterally. That is the key question.

Mr. Trimble: In view of the fact that there will be political influence in the appointment of the tribunal, and there is only a guarantee that one out of the three persons on that tribunal will be a person who holds
26 Apr 2004 : Column 681
judicial office, that was no doubt part of the reason why the Government in 2002 thought that it would be a useful safeguard to ensure that the Lord Chief Justice would have a power to look again at the matter. The decision of the Government to withdraw that safeguard is a matter of concern and we saw what view was taken of that in the other place.

Mr. Spellar: We do not regard it as a safeguard in that sense but as a veto by one individual over the decision of a properly constituted tribunal in the extremely unlikely circumstances of such a tribunal being required. The right hon. Gentleman is right that that is the nub of the issue as to whether the House regards this as a necessary safeguard or as an unnecessary veto, and that due process would therefore require a properly appointed tribunal to undertake that decision, and for that decision not to be subject to an override by an individual, however eminent and just.

Mr. Mallon: The Minister has obviously thought deeply about this matter. Can he give me one good reason why a judicial person should have a veto over the decision of others including the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in the north of Ireland? Secondly, can he give me another good reason as to why the judgment of a legal person should be better and more pristine than the judgment of political people, because the implication of the right hon. Member for Upper Bann (Mr. Trimble) is that that which is judicial is good and that that which is political is questionable?

Mr. Spellar: I am not sure that I go along all the way with the argument that my hon. Friend advances in this regard. What I am saying is that the appointment of a tribunal with the involvement of the senior judiciary, in order to investigate and adjudicate on the question of whether a judge or magistrate is a right and proper person to be holding that office, must properly be made under judicial procedures and with the involvement of the senior judiciary. Once that tribunal has been appointed, either by the Lord Chief Justice or by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, external or even internal political influence on the operations of that tribunal would be quite improper. That tribunal should come to its decision. That is not what we are deciding today, however; what we are deciding is whether that tribunal, when it has come to a decision, should be subject to a veto by the Lord Chief Justice. As I stress again, that in no way impugns this or any other Lord Chief Justice. I am talking about the basic principle.

Mr. Swayne: For the Opposition, the occasion of a Government U-turn is always joyful. This afternoon has almost been as jolly an experience as last week's great Government U-turn, as we have watched the Minister squirm and try to find an explanation. He says that recommendation 104 requires that it will be possible for a judge to be removed only on the basis of the finding of a tribunal. That is true, and it is true now—it is only possible on the basis of a tribunal, as the procedure sets out in the 2002 Act. The Minister is being falsely pedantic in thinking that simply because that is a necessary condition, which it is, it rules out any other possibility. It is strange that he should be so coy about going beyond the provisions of the criminal justice
26 Apr 2004 : Column 682
review, in saying that the Government cannot take one step further than anything that is in black and white in that review. That was not the line that he took with respect to clauses 2 and 3, in which they have gone well beyond that.

I sense that the mood of the House is that we will not get much further on this issue tonight. I therefore wish to press the amendment to a vote.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 151, Noes 266.

Division No. 144
[6:47 pm


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Ancram, rh Michael
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, Sir John
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies (NE Fife)
Cash, William
Chope, Christopher
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James (Beverley)
Dodds, Nigel
Donaldson, Jeffrey M.
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gidley, Sandra
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Greenway, John
Gummer, rh John
Hague, rh William
Hammond, Philip
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howard, rh Michael
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lamb, Norman
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, rh Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
Mackay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moore, Michael
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Page, Richard
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Tredinnick, David
Trimble, rh David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, David
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:

Hugh Robertson and
Mr. Mark Francois


Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Barron, rh Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Bennett, Andrew
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blizzard, Bob
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Byers, rh Stephen
Caborn, rh Richard
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hanson, David
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hinchliffe, David
Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Kaufman, rh Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Linton, Martin
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, Denis
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallon, Seamus
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Quin, rh Joyce
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Short, rh Clare
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, rh John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Straw, rh Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Watts, David
Weir, Michael
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Noes:

Paul Clark and
Gillian Merron

Question accordingly negatived.

26 Apr 2004 : Column 685

Clause 6

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