S.R. 2003/293: second memorandum
from the Northern Ireland Office
1. The Committee considered the above instrument
at its meeting on 7th July 2003 and requested the department to
submit a further memorandum on the following point:
In its memorandum of 30 June, the Department states
that the Explanatory Note does not accurately reflect the effect
of Article 5(2)(c) of this Order, and undertakes to clarify the
effect of that provision when the scheme is next amended.
Does this statement mean that the Explanatory
Note needs amending to reflect the article or that the article
does not have the intended effect? In either case, explain why
the Department proposes to delay making the required amendment?
If article 5(2)(c) has the intended effect, explain
why this ground for refusal applies only where the offender was
convicted of the offence before the scheme comes into operation.
2. The Department accepts that Article 5(2)(c) does
not have the intended effect. It was intended that Article 5(2)(c)
would have the effect as set out in the Explanatory Note, namely
that the Secretary of State could refuse to supply information
to a victim if the offender was convicted before the scheme came
into operation and at the time the scheme came into operation
the offender had less than three months left to serve.
3. The effect of Article 5(2)(c) is to give the Secretary
of State a wider power to refuse to provide information than was
intended. However, it is only a power and the Secretary of State
is not obliged to refuse to make the information available if
a case falls under Article 5(2)(c). The Secretary of State intends
to apply a policy, when operating the scheme, so that he only
refuses to provide information in the more narrow circumstances
that were intended to be enacted by the scheme.
4. The Department expects that some minor changes
will be needed to the scheme when it has been in operation for
a few months. Since, in the light of the matters set out above,
the Department does not consider that any person will suffer any
detriment as a result of the drafting error, the Department proposes
to amend or revoke Article 5(2)(c) when the scheme is next amended
or in any event within the next six months.
11th July 2003