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The Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): My Lords, is Amendment No. 82 not moved?

Lord McCarthy: My Lords, I thought there was an agreement that we should stop at this point. Would the Government like to say something?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes, my Lords, we have an agreement through the usual channels—which has been agreed explicitly with the noble Lords, Lord McCarthy and Lord Wedderburn—that we should finish on the group beginning with Amendment No. 81. That group includes Amendments Nos. 81 to 90.

Lord McCarthy: My Lords, Amendment No. 82 is not moved.

[Amendments Nos. 82 to 90 not moved.]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

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Official Report of the Grand Committee on the

Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill

Tuesday 11th June 2002

The Committee met at half-past three of the clock.

[The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill) in the Chair.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill): Before I put the Question that the Title be postponed, it may be helpful to remind your Lordships of the procedure for today's Committee stage. Except in one important respect, our proceedings will be exactly as in a normal Committee of the Whole House. We shall go through the Bill clause by clause; noble Lords will speak standing; all noble Lords are free to attend and participate; and the proceedings will be recorded in Hansard. The one difference is that the House has agreed that there shall be no Divisions in the Grand Committee. Any issue on which agreement cannot be reached should be considered again at the Report stage when, if necessary, a Division may be called. Unless, therefore, an amendment is likely to be agreed to, it should be withdrawn.

I should explain what will happen if there is a Division in the Chamber, which is likely this afternoon I understand, while we are sitting. The Committee will adjourn as soon as the Division Bells are rung and will resume after 10 minutes.

I understand that the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House would like to say a few words before I proceed with the business of the Committee.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): I am grateful, my Lord Chairman. It is simply to indicate, I hope for the assistance of the Committee, that we have taken the view that this is an extremely important Bill. I have discussed matters with the Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General, and it has been agreed, therefore, that the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, as the Minister from the Lord Chancellor's department, will deal with Part 1 and the Attorney-General will deal with Part 2. I hope that that is helpful.

Title postponed.

Lord Smith of Clifton moved Amendment No. 1:

    Before Clause 1, insert the following new clause—

Aims of the Criminal Justice System

(1) The principal aim of the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland is to protect the public by reducing crime and the fear of crime.
(2) All persons and bodies exercising functions in relation to the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland must have regard to that principal aim in exercising their functions.

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(3) With a view to promoting confidence in the administration of the criminal justice system, all such persons and bodies must also have regard to the need to operate a system which is independent, fair, accessible, open, inclusive, effective and protective of human rights.
(4) Each agency working in the criminal justice system shall publish statements of ethics covering all those employed or holding office in that agency."

The noble Lord said: I beg to move this amendment standing in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Shutt of Greetland. The reason for so doing is that there is some disappointment that the Bill does not put human rights at the centre of the reforms in the way in which the criminal justice review recommended.

[The Sitting was suspended for a Division in the House from 3.32 to 3.42 p.m.]

Lord Smith of Clifton: It is a disappointment that the Bill does not put human rights at the centre of the reforms in the way in which the criminal justice review recommended. The first 16 recommendations of that review, all on human rights, have not been reflected in the Bill at all. A glance at the index on page 151 of the implementation plan, which accompanied the publication of the Bill, makes that clear. The plan states, in relation to almost all of those recommendations, that their implementation is ongoing but, in nearly every instance, it provides no timetable, however imprecise. At several other points in the Bill, the opportunity has been missed to include references to relevant international standards on human rights.

Perhaps the most glaring omission in the Bill is the failure to include any statement of the aims of the criminal justice system. While the review did not actually recommend that those aims should be contained in the legislation, we see no good reason why they should not be. After all, the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 already contains a section stating the functions of the police service and Clause 52 of the Bill sets out the aims of the youth justice system. We propose that the Bill as a whole be amended to set out clearly the aims of the adult criminal justice system. One of those aims should be at the forefront—the promotion and protection of human rights. I beg to move.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): I hope Members of the Committee will be pleased to know that we are publishing a revised implementation plan with more detail, especially on timetables after Royal Assent. Members of the Committee will know that the review did not recommend, as the noble Lord indicated, that the aims of the criminal justice system should be put in statute. We do not believe that the review group felt that that was necessary. While this Bill is extensive, it does not attempt to cover all areas of the criminal justice system; moreover, the Government are not convinced that there is a need to place those general aims on the face of the Bill. We are not convinced either that the amendment adequately covers all we would want to say, which does not mean that we do not have sympathy with the sentiments

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expressed by the noble Lord. The review recommended that we publish a set of purpose and aims for the criminal justice system; that was published at the end of last year.

That publication states that our purpose is to support the administration of justice, to promote confidence in the criminal justice system and to contribute to the reduction of crime and the fear of crime. It also sets out the following aims: first, to provide an independent, fair and effective criminal justice system for the community; secondly, to work together to help reduce crime and the fear of crime; thirdly, to make the criminal justice system as open, inclusive and accessible as possible and to promote confidence in the administration of justice; and, fourthly, to improve service delivery by enhancing levels of effectiveness, efficiency and co-operation within the criminal justice system.

As I said earlier, that publication demonstrates that we have sympathy with the sentiments expressed by Members of the Committee but the review also recommended that the Bill should include a clear statement of the aims and principles of the youth justice system. That is referred to in Clause 52. I hope that Members of the Committee will be comforted by what I have said and agree to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Glentoran: I start by welcoming the noble Baroness to Northern Ireland affairs. I believe that this is the first occasion in which she has taken part directly in that regard. I have previously been known to say that if there is one person whose side I always want to be on, with regard to advocates, it is that of the noble Baroness. Unfortunately, on this occasion, that is not the case.

I have only one substantive point to make on the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Smith. It concerns subsection (4) of the amendment, which goes a little over the top. To publish aims is fine but to go to the extent that each agency working in the criminal justice system has to publish statements of ethics and so on is neither necessary nor appropriate in the Bill. Furthermore, so far as human rights are concerned, that is dealt with on the front page of the Bill anyway.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: I do not quarrel with the principal aim of the amendment but, as other provisions in the Bill tend to weaken the capacity of the judicial system, it is probably somewhat unrealistic to expect the judiciary to "protect the public". Nor is the new police service, in its much weakened position, capable of protecting the public, given that public protection is deteriorating with every day that passes. However, the intention is that the Bill will not be implemented for a year—until after the Assembly elections next year. It may therefore be that the new proposed Army-based counter-terrorist Anglo-Irish task force—whatever it is going to be—may be

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effective by that time in giving real protection to the public, provided that that new task force is not weakened.

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