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Lord Cope of Berkeley: I am sorry to come back on this. Perhaps I did not specifically emphasise that we are concerned primarily with political appointments. I accept that the Secretary of State has more control over independent members, but, even though political members can be removed by the Secretary of State if they are convicted of a criminal offence after appointment, if they are still connected to terrorist organisations and are careful not to be convicted of a criminal offence, they will remain on the police board. The working of the d'Hondt procedure will ensure that members of the police board belong to parties still linked to terrorist organisations which have not given up violence, in particular in the sense of decommissioning. That is why I believe that these amendments are very important.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Perhaps I may respond briefly to those comments. It is worth emphasising that paragraph 9 of Schedule 1 to the Bill states:

    ... (c) he is not committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means".

That provision applies not only to the independents but also to the political members of the board.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I realise that. From the Minister's last intervention, and in accordance with the part of the schedule which he read out, I should like to think that the Secretary of State would regard anyone connected to a paramilitary body which had not decommissioned as not therefore being committed to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means. However, experience suggests that the Secretary of State will not take that view and that a failure to decommission will not mean that he judges those connected with that failure to be not committed to non-violence.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 20 and 21 not moved.]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 22:

    Page 42, line 23, leave out paragraph (a) and insert--

("( ) in the case of an independent member, he failed, before his appointment, to make to the Secretary of State full disclosure of a conviction of his for a criminal offence in Northern Ireland or elsewhere;
( ) he has been convicted of a criminal offence in Northern Ireland or elsewhere committed after the date of his appointment;").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 23 to 27 not moved.]

23 Oct 2000 : Column 47

Lord Desai moved Amendment No. 28:

    Page 45, line 34, leave out from ("by") to end of line 35 and insert--

("(a) a majority of those present and voting on the proposal, and
(b) at least 8 members present and voting on the proposal.").

The noble Lord said: This is a small amendment which simplifies the text and introduces slightly more flexibility. It changes the current wording in the schedule by referring to "a majority of" those present and voting and reduces the minimum number of votes required for a majority from 10 to eight. Basically, it provides a means for allowing business to be carried on when such inquiries are to be made. I beg to move.

Lord Glentoran: I am afraid that this time I cannot support the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Desai. I believe that the numbers to which he refers in Amendment No. 28 are very sensitive. Whatever happens in relation to the different agreements, the numbers in this particular part of the Bill are extremely sensitive. I believe that the Bill should stand as it is without further flexibility being introduced, which, I understand, would be the effect of the noble Lord's amendment and, in particular, his Amendment No. 30. I believe that removing sub-paragraph (7) would again open up too many opportunities for subjective variation. I say to the Minister that we would object to those amendments.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The issues raised by Amendments Nos. 28 to 30 were debated at length in Committee in another place. They have been considered carefully by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State. We are not convinced that a minority of the board should be able to reach a decision to hold an inquiry which would by definition be into a matter of some gravity or of an exceptional nature. Therefore, I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Desai: I understand what my noble friend says. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 29 and 30 not moved.]

Schedule 1, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Clause 3 [General functions of the Board]:

Lord Archer of Sandwell moved Amendment No. 31:

    Page 2, line 7, at end insert ("and compliant with all relevant international human rights standards").

The noble and learned Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 31, I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 31 to 34, 34A, 35 to 37, 201 to 204 and 232.

Clause 3 is concerned with the functions of the board. I am grateful to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, the Equality Commission and the Committee for the Administration of Justice in Northern Ireland for the great deal of help which they have given me in relation not only to these amendments but to a number of others.

23 Oct 2000 : Column 48

Clause 3(2) requires the board to secure so far as possible two objectives: that the police are efficient and that they are effective. Subsection (3) imposes on the board a duty to monitor their performance and it adds an aspiration to the two objectives in subsection (2). They are to be monitored to see whether they comply with the Human Rights Act.

I have no quarrel with any of that. Of course they must be efficient and effective and, in doing so, they must comply with the Human Rights Act. However, some people believe that complying with the Human Rights Act adds nothing to the obligation incumbent on any police force to comply with the law. The Human Rights Act is part of the law. The Patten commission spoke in paragraph 4.12 of monitoring police performance in respect of human rights. Paragraph 4.13 declared that,

    "they should perceive their jobs in terms of the protection of human rights".

That most certainly includes the rights set out in the Human Rights Act. However, it goes further. Human rights include international human rights standards. Indeed, in paragraph 5.17 the commission specifically spoke of:

    "Procedures to secure compliance with the law and with international human rights standards".

Therefore, these amendments reflect the concerns both of those who assisted me and of the Patten commission.

As I understand it, the Government's concern is that the expression "international human rights standards" is not sufficiently specific. No doubt my noble and learned friend will tell me whether I have anticipated that correctly. He is nodding helpfully. Of course it is true. Hundreds, if not thousands, of provisions are included in that expression. However, in Clause 3 we are not concerned with specific requirements of the kind which we find, for example, in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. Rather, we are in the realm of aspirations.

It would be curious if someone who read subsection (2) in relation to securing that the police shall be efficient were to ask, "In what precise respects are they to be efficient?" I do not believe that police authorities who are enjoined to comply with international human rights standards could be heard to complain that they cannot do so unless they have a long list of the precise duties which those standards impose upon them. We are not involved in that type of exercise in these two clauses.

However, I understand that there must be a balance between setting out broad inclusive standards and being clear as to what is required. If the Government object to my drafting on the ground that it is too wide, a solution might be found in listing a number of international human rights instruments which reflect specific concerns relating, for example, to the United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials. It may be that between now and Report stage we could explore that possible avenue.

23 Oct 2000 : Column 49

This is not the occasion on which to indulge in a Dutch auction as to what they should be. It is not about that. It is about offering people reassurance as to the manner in which the police will go about their duties.

I now turn to the other amendments in this group. Paragraph (d) in Clause 3 very sensibly requires arrangements for obtaining the views of the public on the policing of the district. It then requires arrangements for obtaining the co-operation of the public with the police. Certainly, that is very much to be desired because, without it, no one will enjoy the advantages of being in a peaceful society under the rule of law, and that is a matter which a number of noble Lords emphasised in an earlier debate.

But I wonder whether that may be seen in a context where a well-intentioned signal may be misunderstood because that seems to imply three stages: first, obtaining the views of the public; secondly, deciding whether the authorities agree and declaring how the policing should be done; and, thirdly, getting the public to co-operate in the decision.

I am sure that it is intended that the police and the public should work together to ensure law and order. It will not be a case of the public being involved uncritically in what the police have decided to do. It will be a joint endeavour. The police will have a difficult enough task. It is essential that the public should feel that it is their task as well; that they have some ownership in the policy which is to be pursued. That is why, with this amendment, I seek to amend the wording to ensure that it is not a question of the police deciding on a policy and the public being asked to co-operate. The policy itself should be a joint enterprise. I beg to move.

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