Clause 2 - Introductory

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:45 pm ar 29 Ionawr 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland) 4:45, 29 Ionawr 2002

I welcome you to the Chair for this afternoon's sitting, Mr. Pike. However, I somewhat regret the fact that the Minister had the opportunity for a break because I am more confused now than I was before, although I thought that I understood the position before lunch.

I shall set out the official Opposition's position on devolution and related matters. We agree with the review and with the Government on the recommendations. It is appropriate for judges of the High Court to fall within the devolved structure and within the remit of the Judicial Appointments Commission. Therefore, they should be covered by the concomitant recommendations about tenure and the ability to remove them from office. Later in our proceedings, we will come to the issue that is slightly confusing—and on which I have tabled amendments to clause 4—the appointment of judges to the High Court, Her Majesty's involvement in appointments

and the consequences for the role of this House and another place. I agree with the Minister that that will be the most appropriate time to deal with those issues.

I agree with the Minister—in fact, I was delighted to hear him say this—that there is merit in promoting consistency across the devolved structures in the United Kingdom, as that will make it much easier for people to understand exactly which functions are exercised by the devolved administrations and which are reserved for what my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) called Whitehall appointments in respect of the judiciary.

The Minister explained the purpose of amendment No. 128 before lunch, and I agree with the way in which he defined that. I just thought that it was appropriate to put on record the principle that underlies the Opposition's approach, a principle that also guides us in relation to other amendments that we shall discuss later.