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Lord Goldsmith: The noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth, has given another example of a case in which it may be difficult to give reasons. It arises not infrequently that the reason why a prosecution cannot continue is that the life of an important witness—perhaps an intelligence source or an informant—might be put at risk by proceeding. It would be a dangerous step in those circumstances to announce that the reason why we do not want to prosecute is that we are frightened that, if we do, it will become apparent that so-and-so is a police informant. That is another good example of a case in which it would not be appropriate to give reasons. It would be difficult to impose a duty to do so.

Lord Glentoran: I thank the noble and learned Lord for that careful and cautiously judged response to the amendment. I am delighted with almost all of what he said and with the fact that the Government take the matter so seriously. It is good that—after a lot of work and consultation—there is a proposal to put something into a code of practice. Overall, I have found the Government's answer satisfactory.

I would, however, give one rather obvious word of warning. Northern Ireland is such a small place that rumour abounds in every direction. Little happens without somebody knowing why it has happened. As part of my consultation input, I say to the noble and learned Lord that, on most occasions, it would be better to communicate than not to communicate, because the chances are that, otherwise, the evil vine will do it for us and will do it maliciously. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 143 and 144 not moved.]

Clause 32 agreed to.

Clause 33 [Consents to prosecutions]:

[Amendments Nos. 145 to 147 not moved.]

Clause 33 agreed to.

Clause 34 [Police complaints]:

[Amendment No. 148 not moved.]

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 149:

The noble and learned Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 149, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 151. They are technical amendments, changing references to the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998. When the Policing Board was established and the

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Police Authority dissolved, references to the Police Authority were changed to refer to the Policing Board. The amendments reflect those changes. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 150 not moved.]

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 151

    Page 21, line 12, leave out "Authority" and insert "Board"

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 152 not moved.]

Clause 34, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 35 [Information for Director]:

[Amendments Nos. 153 to 159 not moved.]

Lord Glentoran moved Amendment No. 160

    Page 21, line 42, at end insert—

"( ) Where the Director is not satisfied with the information provided to him by the police he may refer the case to the police ombudsman for the investigation."

The noble Lord said: This amendment again concerns relationships. In the past I have been critical of the ombudsman. That was not because I was against having a police ombudsman; quite the reverse. I was critical of the way the duties were being carried out in that department in the early stages. I should make that quite clear.

The amendment would give the Director of Public Prosecutions power to invite the police ombudsman to conduct an investigation of the police. Clearly there must be some passage of information from the police to the director in order for him to be able to put together a prosecution. The Director of Public Prosecutions may not be satisfied that he is getting the necessary information from the police. Should the Director of Public Prosecutions have some form of power at his disposal to be able to ferret out such information if he is not receiving it?

Although it is essential that the relationship between the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions works well, circumstances could arise where it might not. This is in no sense an anti-police measure. It seeks simply to give the Director of Public Prosecutions the opportunity to have some investigatory force to pursue information, should circumstances require it. In other words, if the Director of Public Prosecutions, in the pursuit of evidence when putting together a case, feels that he is getting less than co-operation from the police force or a section of it, he can appeal to the police ombudsman. Obviously it would then be for her and her department to decide whether to have any input. I beg to move.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: For the first time this evening I find myself in disagreement with the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran. If he had had my experience of the police ombudsman, he might consider that she has too much power already. I am not in a position to suggest an alternative, but I should have thought that within the judicial process itself, within the powers of the Director of Public Prosecutions, there would be sufficient clout to deal with a situation where a police

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officer was not properly co-operating. To enshrine in legislation further powers for the police ombudsman would be a mistake.

I conclude by saying that my objection to this springs from a practical point of view; that is, from a knowledge of how that department has grown to an inordinate extent. I want to guard against any further powers or responsibilities being devolved to that organisation.

Lord Goldsmith: Perhaps I may say that I agree entirely with the underlying sentiment expressed in the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Maginnis. One would hope that the sort of situation to which the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, refers would arise only very rarely. The mature and responsible prosecution service and police service would not find themselves in a situation in which difficulties were not resolved. I entirely agree with that well founded hope.

I draw attention to Clause 34(4), which is one of those provisions, because it amends the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000. Its purpose may not be immediately apparent, but it adds the director to those people who may refer matters to the police ombudsman. The power to make a reference of the sort of matters to which the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran refers, exists already under the Bill without the need for the additional clause. However, I emphasise that I share the hope that the sort of circumstance he has in mind will be extremely rare and that, as the noble Lord, Lord Maginnis, says, matters should be resolved without ever needing to reach that stage.

I hope the noble Lord will feel reassured by what I have said about the provision in the Bill.

Lord Glentoran: I thank the noble and learned Lord for pointing out Clause 34 to me—I admit that I had not fully understood the implication of that. I also share his hopes that that sort of situation will never arise—although it is bound to, occasionally. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 35 agreed to.

Clause 36 [Exercise of functions by and on behalf of Service]:

[Amendments Nos. 161 to 163 not moved.]

Clause 36 agreed to.

Clause 37 [Code for Prosecutors]:

[Amendments Nos. 164 to 168 not moved.]

Clause 37 agreed to.

Clause 38 [Reports by Director]:

[Amendments Nos. 169 to 171 not moved.]

Lord Desai moved Amendment No. 172:

    Page 23, line 13, at end insert—

"( ) The annual report must contain details on the community background, gender and ethnicity of those persons against whom proceedings have been taken by the Chief Prosecutor for Northern Ireland."

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The noble Lord said: This is a very straightforward amendment. We are interested in transparency and openness. The amendment says simply that the report that is to be published by the director should contain details about the community background, gender and ethnicity of people. That is necessary because suspicions and fears will arise otherwise that one or other community is not getting its full due of justice. Therefore, more openness and more information will lead to greater accountability, which is what we want. I beg to move.

Lord Laird: As I explained earlier, I have a high regard for the noble Lord, Lord Desai—where he is coming from and where he trying to get to. However, the amendment is political correctness gone mad and we cannot support it. It would lead to league tables and the need to boost some particular gender, ethnicity or community background. I am not sure where this would stop. Would it go on to sexual orientation and so on?

Baroness O'Cathain: Could someone tell me what ethnicity means? What is the ethnic background of a nationalist or someone from the Republic of Ireland who is married to a Unionist? I ask that for personal reasons.

Lord Rogan: Amber.

Baroness O'Cathain: Amber, thank you.

Lord Hylton: I have one or two doubts about how such an amendment would work in practice. It occurs to me that, from year to year, there might be considerable swings in the direction of one community group, gender, or ethnicity. From those swings, the public might draw very incorrect conclusions.

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