Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Laird moved Amendment No. 55:


The noble Lord said: My Lords, I do not want to take up too much time today because much of the argument has already been rehearsed and time is moving on. In moving Amendment No. 55, I want to speak also to Amendments Nos. 57, 59, 62 and 70. The effect of the amendment is to move the word "Public" and insert the word "Crown" in the concept of the prosecutor's service for Northern Ireland. It will then be the "Crown Prosecution Service" for Northern Ireland.

This may seem to be another occasion on which the Unionists are trying to produce more British symbols and to enhance those which exist. That returns us to the point made with great passion by the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, in relation to an earlier amendment, that the situation in Northern Ireland is not very good. It is extremely poor and fragile.

I greatly fear for the Belfast agreement. It is a difficult situation for those of us who from the Unionist perspective have put a great deal of political stock, time, emotion and effort into working the Belfast agreement. We now find ourselves on extremely difficult territory. We are on crumbling territory; a quicksand which is likely to suck us in to our detriment. Large sections of the Bill do not come into effect until after the Assembly elections next year. I share the concern of noble Lords that the result of the Assembly elections will be such that the Bill will never be brought into force in Northern Ireland.

It is not merely a case of asking for the word "Crown" to take the place of the word "Public" in order to be in line with the rest of the kingdom. It returns to the basic point and to the difficulties we have in Northern Ireland in trying to keep together a community that has been under threat. It has undergone extreme difficulties and believes that its way of life, the basis by which it calculates its day-to-day activities and its values have been taken from it.

The use of the word "Public" is yet another example of that and it has produced a difficult situation. The Government, in trying to create a situation in which public prosecutors are separate from the police service, have produced two sets of initials which are almost identical. To members of the public, the public prosecution service and the Police Service of Northern Ireland will seem to be the same organisation. That is

1 Jul 2002 : Column 104

how ludicrous the situation is. In my view, and in the view of most people in Northern Ireland, the change is being made simply to appease the Irish republicans and because, as the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, said, they are armed to the teeth and we are not.

That is a fact of life and it is very sad and difficult. I say to noble Lords that when as a result of this Bill and other actions the Belfast agreement tumbles down, please do not come around and say that you were not warned. Please do not come around and ask what we can do about it. We have done a lot to save the situation but we cannot work miracles. I beg to move.

The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): My Lords, the purpose of this amendment is to name the new prosecution service the "Crown prosecution service for Northern Ireland" rather than the "public prosecution service". We discussed the matter in Grand Committee. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Laird, I wish to make three points.

First, there never has been a Crown prosecution service in Northern Ireland. This is not a case of changing the name of something that already exists. Indeed, there has not been a service of the kind intended under the provisions of the Bill. At the moment the Director of Public Prosecutions runs a much smaller office than the new public prosecution service will be. As noble Lords know, under the Director of Public Prosecutions, the new prosecution service will take over the conduct of and be responsible for all prosecutions in Northern Ireland. So this is not a case of changing the status quo; it is a question of giving a name to a new organisation.

Secondly, why has that name been chosen? It is the name proposed by the review. It was widely welcomed during the consultations following the publication of the review report and the draft legislation. I understand that only one party had any difficulty with the name. As I pointed out in Grand Committee, the name states exactly what the service will be: it will be a public prosecution service. The name emphasises that it will be a neutral prosecution service for the public and in the interests of the whole public. It is an entirely appropriate name, not least because the head of the service will be the Director of Public Prosecutions, and thus a public prosecution service makes sense.

Thirdly, I refer to the confusion that has been suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Laird. I beg fundamentally to disagree. I suggest that no one in Northern Ireland will be the slightest bit confused. The police will be called the "police", while the prosecution service will be called either the "public prosecution service" or, if an acronym is preferred, it will be the "PPS", like the CPS in England and Wales. That will not under any circumstances be confused with the police service. Therefore I do not believe that there is any good reason for changing the name because of the risk of confusion.

1 Jul 2002 : Column 105

While I respect and understand the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord, this is not an occasion for any concern about the name. I invite him to withdraw his amendment.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord sits down, perhaps I may direct him to Schedule 8 to the Bill, on line 21 of page 99. He will notice that the office referred to is:


    "Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service".

Is that a slip?

Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, I am happy to answer the question put by the noble Baroness, although I do not think that it arises out of anything that I have said. It is a reference to the Crown Prosecution Service which exists in England and Wales and therefore it relates to that and not to anything else. I hope that that helps the noble Baroness.

Lord Laird: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General for setting out his reasons for not accepting the amendment. I must say that there was nothing surprising in what he said, but the debate has allowed me the opportunity to make my points. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Goldsmith moved Amendment No. 56:


    Page 96, leave out lines 35 to 43 and insert—


"32 In section 9(1) of the Official Secrets Act 1989 (c. 6) (proceedings for offence under that Act), for "Attorney General for Northern Ireland" substitute "Advocate General for Northern Ireland".
33 In Article 8(11) of the Iraq and Kuwait (United Nations Sanctions) Order 1990 (S.I. 1990/1651) (as substituted by the Iraq and Kuwait (United Nations Sanctions) (Second Amendment) Order 1990 (S.I. 1990/2144)) (proceedings for offence under that Order), for "Attorney General for Northern Ireland or" substitute "Advocate General for Northern Ireland or the Attorney General for".
33A In section 31(1) of the Chemical Weapons Act 1996 (c. 6) (proceedings for offence under section 2 or 11 of that Act), for "Attorney General for Northern Ireland" substitute "Advocate General for Northern Ireland".
33B In section 117(3)(b) of the Terrorism Act 2000 (c. 11) (proceedings for offence committed for purpose connected with affairs of country other than United Kingdom), for "Attorney General for Northern Ireland" substitute "Advocate General for Northern Ireland".
33C In—
(a) section 55 (proceedings for offence under section 47 or 50), and
(b) section 81(1) (proceedings for offence under section 79 or 80),
of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (c. 24), for "Attorney General for Northern Ireland" substitute "Advocate General for Northern Ireland"."

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move this amendment standing in the name of my noble and learned friend the Lord Privy Seal. It is a technical amendment which adds further offences to

1 Jul 2002 : Column 106

the list of those in relation to which the Advocate-General for Northern Ireland must give consent before a prosecution can be undertaken.

As your Lordships will recall, after devolution the new local Attorney-General will have no power to consent to prosecutions. The Director of Public Prosecutions will exercise most consent provisions, but a very few—for example, in the fields of national security and international relations—will be exercised by the Advocate General for Northern Ireland. Schedule 7 lists the offences for which the Advocate General's consent will be required. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 29 [Public Prosecution Service]:

[Amendment No. 57 not moved.]

10 p.m.

Lord Goldsmith moved Amendment No. 58:


    Page 18, line 36, at end insert—


"(8) The Director may set up and maintain such offices, in such places in Northern Ireland, as he considers appropriate for the exercise of his functions."

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, the criminal justice review recommended that the Public Prosecution Service should establish local offices from which the bulk of the prosecutorial work in their respective areas would be conducted.

We had originally thought it unnecessary to provide specifically for this in the Bill. However, given that such a power exists in the Prosecution of Offences (Northern Ireland) Order, we have now taken the view that we should replicate this in the Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill for the purposes of clarity. There is an equivalent provision in the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 in respect of the English and Welsh Crown Prosecution Service. I hope that your Lordships will agree that the amendment is fully consistent with the review and can therefore be accepted. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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

[Amendment No. 59 not moved.]


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page