Clause 2 - Introductory

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:30 pm ar 29 Ionawr 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Des Browne Des Browne Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Northern Ireland Office, Parliamentary Secretary (Northern Ireland Office) 4:30, 29 Ionawr 2002

I was coming to that. It is appropriate for me to repeat the position that I outlined this morning in dealing with another amendment.

Amendment No. 87 is designed to prevent the First Minister and Deputy First Minister from using their power to make orders under subsection (2) to bring the offices of High Court judge, Lord Chief Justice and Lord Justice of Appeal into the remit of the Judicial Appointments Commission. For the reasons that I set out this morning and that I repeat, the Government's position is that, as the Bill is framed, the amendment is unnecessary.

The review's policy was not to extend devolution to the most senior posts. I accept that, and that is what we are trying to reflect. Because of the way in which the Bill is structured, any order made under clause 2 would require a cross-community vote under clause 82(2)(a), and the agreement of the Lord Chief Justice. Our position is that the safeguards are sufficient to prevent any disruption of the review's policy in the context of the Bill.

I accept that there is the theoretical possibility of an order, as the hon. Lady suggests, and I undertake that we will consider further whether a clarifying amendment would be helpful. However, I would argue that it would not add anything to the Bill other than to clarify the existing position. If the hon. Lady is reassured by that explanation, and if she can bring herself substantially to ignore some of what I said this morning, I hope that she can be persuaded to withdraw the amendment.