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Justice And Security (Northern Ireland) Bill


These notes relate to the Lords Amendments to the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill, as brought from the House of Lords on 2nd May 2007 [Bill 100]




1.     These explanatory notes relate to the Lords Amendments to the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill, as brought from the House of Lords on 2nd May 2007. They have been prepared by the Northern Ireland Office in order to assist the reader of the Bill and the Lords Amendments and to help inform debate on the Lords Amendments. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.

2.     These notes, like the Lords Amendments themselves, refer to HL Bill 42, the Bill as first printed for the Lords.

3.     These notes need to be read in conjunction with the Lords Amendments and the text of the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the effect of the Lords Amendments.

4.     All the Lords Amendments were in the name of the Minister except for Amendment 3, which was accepted by the Government.

Bill 100—EN     54/2


Lords Amendment 1

5.     Lords Amendment 1 clarifies when challenges to the DPP's decision for non-jury trial will be possible. It provides that exceptional circumstances can include exceptional circumstances relating to lack of jurisdiction or error of law. It will be for the courts to decide in any case whether those grounds meet the threshold of exceptional circumstances.

Lords Amendments 2, 6, 7 and 8

6.     Lords Amendment 2 inserts a new clause into the Bill. This clause provides that the provisions in clauses 1 to 8 of the Bill (which relate to non-jury trial) will expire at the end of a period of two years beginning with the day on which clause 1 comes into force. The Secretary of State may extend the duration of the provisions for further consecutive periods of two years by means of an affirmative resolution order. The clause also provides, in subsections (4) and (5), for transitional arrangements for the expiry of the system of non-jury trial. Subsection (6) enables the Secretary of State to make, by affirmative resolution order, amendments of legislation consequential on the expiry of the provisions.

7.     Lords Amendment 6 provides that subsections (6) and (7) of the new clause inserted by Lords Amendment 2 extend to England and Wales and Northern Ireland. This is necessary because some of the consequential amendments that may need to be made by means of an order under subsection (6) of the new clause are in legislation that extends to England and Wales (as well as Northern Ireland). For example, there will be references to the Bill's new system of non-jury trial in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (see paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 to the Bill).

8.     Lords Amendment 7 clarifies that, so far as they relate to amendments set out in Schedule 1 (which deals with amendments consequential on the new non-jury trial system), clause 8 and subsections (1) to (4) of the new clause introduced by Lords Amendment 2 have the same extent as the enactments being amended.

9.     Lords Amendment 8 provides that the new clause introduced by Lords Amendment 2 comes into force on Royal Assent.

Lords Amendment 3

10.     Lords Amendment 3 requires the Secretary of State to maintain a public register of accredited community restorative justice schemes in Northern Ireland. It also requires the Criminal Justice Inspectorate (which is led by the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice for Northern Ireland, a statutory office) to inspect the schemes regularly and to report to the Secretary of State. The Inspectorate may make recommendations, including for the removal of schemes from the register, and the Secretary of State is to publish reports.

Lords Amendments 4 and 5

11.     Lords Amendments 4 and 5 give effect to a recommendation of the Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform in relation to the new policing and justice departmental model set out in Schedule 5 to the Bill. If that model is adopted, the Secretary of State is required to abolish, by order, the post of deputy Minister in the department three years after devolved policing and justice functions are transferred to the department, unless the Assembly has resolved that it be abolished earlier than that or, alternatively, that it be retained beyond that. As originally drafted, the Bill required such an order to be subject to the negative resolution procedure. However, the Committee observed that the circumstances specified in the Bill in which the Secretary of State shall act are matters of ascertainable fact, not of opinion, and the timing, too, is preordained. The Committee recommended that, in the consequent absence of any element of discretion for the Secretary of State, no parliamentary procedure should apply.

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Prepared: 3 May 2007