Clause 32 - Conduct of prosecutions

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:30 pm ar 5 Chwefror 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Edward Garnier Edward Garnier Ceidwadwyr, Harborough 12:30, 5 Chwefror 2002

May I underline one or two of the points made by my hon. Friend? It is important that, if the new Public Prosecution Service is to work under the leadership of the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland, it must be given adequate resources and be staffed by lawyers and other personnel of sufficiently high quality. To avoid some problems that the CPS and British police forces have had in this jurisdiction, it must be emphasised that proper and continuous communication is necessary between the police and the Public Prosecution Service. Too many cases have failed because of either an unwillingness or an inability of the police and the CPS to communicate adequately. There is anecdotal evidence that, in certain police forces, there is huge professional jealousy and a sense of annoyance that their ability to prosecute has been taken away. I hope that that will not be replicated in Northern Ireland; I am sure that it will not be.

However, it is essential that the Government should give a lead, both through the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and through the office of the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland.

I am concerned, as is my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate, about the financial estimates for the establishment of the Public Prosecution Service. Such costs tend to grow like Topsy. While all Governments need to keep a firm control on public expenditure, if this is to be got right, it might as well be got right from the start—penny pinching will lead to more difficulties in the future and will prevent the DPP from appointing good lawyers and administrators to his staff. The old cliche about paying peanuts is close to our minds. I hope that the same mistakes are not made in Northern Ireland as were made at the outset of the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales. It is hugely important that the code under clause 38 addresses many of the issues and concerns that have been exposed by the development of the CPS since the early or mid-1980s in England and Wales. There are lessons for all of us to learn. Northern Ireland has the advantage of coming at it 20 years after England and

Wales. I urge the Government to use all their powers—their financial power in particular—to make sure that the system works.

The final issue on which I should be interested to hear the Minister's views is whether it is intended that the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland should be under one administrative area, covering the whole of Northern Ireland as one prosecuting area, or whether it will be divided into counties or other districts as it is in England and Wales. The hon. Member for North Down mentioned the Glidewell report. It will be interesting to see how that is to be brought into existence in Northern Ireland.