Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Tenth Report


Memorandum by the Northern Ireland Office


  1. This memorandum, which is provided by the Northern Ireland Office, deals with the delegated powers which are conferred or affected by the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill, which completed its Report and Third Reading stages in the House of Commons on Thursday 11th December 1997.


  2. The Bill extends by two years the life of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1996 ('the 1996 Act'), which would otherwise expire on 24th August 1998 by virtue of section 60(10) of that Act. Except as provided in the Bill it does not seek to amend any of the provisions of the 1996 Act relating to delegated powers. The memorandum submitted in relation to the 1996 Act is set out in Annex 2 to the Committee's Report on the Bill which became the 1996 Act. The considerations set out in the earlier memorandum remain unchanged insofar as they relate to provisions which are not affected by the Bill.

  Provisions of the Bill dealing specifically with Delegated Powers

  3. Clause 4 extends the Secretary of State's duty to make a code of practice for the silent video recording of police interviews with persons detained under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989, and to make an order requiring compliance with that code, to such other police interviews as he may specify in such an order. Since the nature of the code will effectively limit the interviews specified to those which are held at terrorist questioning centres (though it will be for the orders to specify the manner in which a person comes to be interviewed (eg production from a prison)) it was felt that the existing negative resolution procedure in section 60(5) of the 1996 Act would provide sufficient Parliamentary control.

  4. Clause 5 makes provision for the audio recording of police interviews which corresponds to the provision made by section 53 of the 1996 Act for the silent video recording of such interviews. Again the power to specify by order other kinds of police interviews to which these provisions can apply is subject to the negative resolution procedure under section 60(5) of the 1996 Act, as amended by paragraph 3(3)(b) of Schedule 1 to the Bill.

  5. Clause 6 has the effect that an order bringing a code of practice into operation under section 54(3) of the 1996 Act will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure under section 60(2) of the 1996 Act, instead of the negative resolution procedures as at present under subsection (5) of that section, subject (as at present) to the 'emergency' procedure in subsection (3) of that section. This provision is a consequence of an amendment made to the Bill by Mr Trimble (with whom the Government concurred) who felt that Parliamentary control in this area should be more stringent, and in line with that for codes of practice under the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996.

  16 December 1997

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