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Lord Glentoran moved Amendment No. 176:

( ) the police ombudsman for Northern Ireland"

The noble Lord said: The amendment is to do with those organisations coming under the remit of the powers of the chief inspector of criminal justice. It is a probing amendment at this stage. Clause 45 lists a whole number of people who should come under the jurisdiction of the chief inspector of criminal justice. We feel that that list is incomplete. My two amendments would add a few more names to it. However, I do not think that that is the right way to go about dealing with this situation. My purpose is to ask the noble and learned Lord to come back on Report with a rather better and more comprehensive phrasing of the clause. It would be preferable if the Government did so, but if they will not, we shall come back with an amendment. Perhaps we could discuss the issue with the noble and learned Lord outside the Committee. I beg to move.

7.15 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I know that several amendments are grouped here, but they are all based on the theme that the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, explained so tactfully. It might be helpful if I gave my response to all noble Lords. The point that they make is common, although the bodies that they wish to have included are different. If that is of assistance to the Committee, I shall say one or two helpful words.

Since the review was published, there has been general agreement that the organisations that were specified by the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, should be inspected. However, I readily appreciate that there were suggestions that the list should be expanded. Even the organisations in the amendments—there are quite a few of them—are not wholly exhaustive of organisations with some involvement in the criminal justice system.

Because of the concerns raised by your Lordships informally and some questions raised in the House of Commons, a review of a list of organisations that it might be appropriate to subject to inspection by the inspectorate is being undertaken by my colleague, Mr Des Browne. He has written to a wide range of organisations, including those identified in this group of amendments. Several of those organisations have asked for extra time to make their submissions as to whether they ought to be included. That is a reasonable thing to do. It is important and fair that organisations that might be proposed for inclusion should, at least, have the opportunity to make their views known.

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The presently designated organisations have had plenty of notice. I hope that I am being helpful in inviting noble Lords to withdraw their amendments, on the specific understanding that the list of organisations is being reviewed and consultations with a view to adding to the list are continuing. Certainly, I am more than happy to meet any of your Lordships to give a progress report. I cannot, at this stage, promise that the list will be definitively concluded on Report, but I can say that the process is being taken forward.

Lord Rogan: I welcome what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, has said. I am certainly prepared not to press my amendment, but, before I do so, I want to amend an amendment. "Consignia" should now read "Royal Mail plc". I thank the noble and learned Lord for his comments.

Lord Glentoran: I thank the noble and learned Lord for his response and I beg leave to withdraw.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 177, 177A, 177B and 177C not moved.]

Clause 45 agreed to.

Clause 46 [Further provisions about functions]:

Lord Smith of Clifton moved Amendment No. 178:

    Page 27, line 13, at end insert—

"( ) In carrying out inspections, the Chief Inspector shall measure an organisation's compliance with the aims of the criminal justice system and with internationally accepted human rights standards."

The noble Lord said: We believe that the inspector's criteria should allow for measurement against benchmarks that recognise the aims of the system and the core importance of human rights. Such a modus operandi would contribute to the development of a human rights culture in Northern Ireland, which we support. I beg to move.

Lord Monson: I wonder whether there are any such things as internationally recognised human rights standards. Even if we confine ourselves to democracies, standards vary to some degree. For example, Greece, Israel and the United States all have human rights standards that are rather different from ours, as recent events demonstrated. Subjectively, we each believe that our standards are the right ones; objectively, who can be certain who is right?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The noble Lord, Lord Monson, has a point there. This is aspirational, rather than workable, if I may respectfully say so. I do not dissent from the noble Lord's purpose, but I do not believe that it is a workable requirement. I pray in aid, not for the last time, the pithy words of the noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth, upon which I cannot improve. It is for the chief inspector to carry out his work appropriately, using operational standards which would of course be required to be compliant with human rights obligations.

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I do not believe that the amendments are workable for another reason. I do not believe that an inspector can be directed in statute to carry out every inspection, whatever its nature, quality and extent, to be measured against the standards proposed. I sympathise with the thought behind the amendments, but I believe they are neither workable nor desirable.

Lord Smith of Clifton: I thank the Minister for that explanation and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 178A not moved.]

Clauses 46 agreed to.

Clause 47 agreed to.

Clause 48 [Reports]:

[Amendment No. 178B not moved.]

Clause 48 agreed to.

Clause 49 [Law Commission]:

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass moved Amendment No. 178C:

    Page 28, line 35, at end insert "either in Northern Ireland, England and Wales or Scotland"

The noble Lord said: The amendment pertains to the composition of the Law Commission. It would widen the base from which the Law Commission may draw on High Court judges to include judges from Scotland, England and Wales.

I accept that a judge from the High Court in Scotland may well not be the proper equivalent. I am not a lawyer and I am not certain of the detail. Somebody has told me that the Scottish equivalent should be a Principal High Sheriff. However, the principle should be articulated.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Viscount Allenby of Megiddo): I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord, but a Division has been called and the Committee stands adjourned for 10 minutes.

Lord Glentoran: May I suggest that we do not reconvene?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: We have very little to finish on Part 3. We have only a couple of brief amendments to deal with and my answers will be short. I think that we can easily finish Part 3 this evening.

Baroness O'Cathain: Between now and the Division?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: No.

[The Sitting was suspended for a Division in the House from 7.22 to 7.32 p.m.]

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: I was about to point out—this has previously been stated—that there are seven High Court judges in Northern Ireland. One judge will have obligations in respect of the Judicial Appointments Commission; that leaves remarkably few, considering the other duties that will have to be undertaken by High Court judges, to act as chairmen.

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In contrast, it appears that, with more than 100 High Court judges in England and Wales and in view of the number in Scotland, we should expand the choice. It is not as though there are any duties specific to Northern Ireland to be carried out. In Clause 50(1) there is a list of the duties of the commission. They are general duties for which judges from any of the four jurisdictions would be well fitted. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I think that this work is a Northern Ireland-specific task. The statute books are similar but everyone in this Room knows, because of the legislation and the different orders we have ourselves put forward, there are differences in law and practice. The noble Lord, Lord Maginnis, rightly said that the whole of the legal system in Scotland is completely different. We want one of the eight High Court judges in Northern Ireland to carry out this work on the basis of experience, legislation, orders, subordinate legislation and practice, which differs. It is intended that it should be a part-time position; for the rest of the year the designated Northern Ireland High Court judge will sit as a High Court judge and carry out his usual duties. I hope that that explanation satisfies the noble Lord. I ask him to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: I am grateful. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass moved Amendment No. 178D:

    Page 29, line 4, leave out from "who" to end of line 6 and insert "may hold or have held judicial office or may be a solicitor or barrister or teacher of law at a university"

The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment. On the four other commissioners, the conditions in paragraphs(a), (b) and (c) of Clause 49(4) are specific and positive. Subsection (4)(d) is prescriptive and specifically precludes a person,

    "who does not hold (and has never held) judicial office and is not (and has never been) a barrister, solicitor or teacher of law in a university".

I believe that I am right in suggesting that that arrangement will be peculiar to Northern Ireland and that there is no lay member of the Law Commission in England and Wales. To preclude someone because of a position that he may have held is probably not very wise. There is nothing in the amendment that would dictate what the person may be; in contrast to the Bill, the fourth member of the Law Commission may in fact be someone who can bring the benefit of legal experience to the commission. I beg to move.

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