Clause 38 - Code for Prosecutors

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:30 pm ar 5 Chwefror 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland) 6:30, 5 Chwefror 2002

I sympathise with my hon. Friend the Member for North Down in principle, if not entirely. She is right that the First Minister and Deputy First Minister should not have a role in the proceedings precisely for the reasons that she adduced about political independence. That he must consult with

''any other person appearing to the Director to have an interest in the matter'' is the ''Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all'' paragraph. One must trust the director a little. If one is simply unable to name the people with whom he will have to consult, they are already in clause 42(3), which requires him to consult with the Attorney-General and the Advocate-General before bringing the code of ethics into play or altering it. That strikes me as the appropriate balance, as the Advocate-General will remain accountable in this country, and the Attorney-General will be able to answer questions in the Assembly. However, that also means that the director retains his independence in framing the code.

It is not appropriate to name the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission above and beyond many other bodies that also have a legitimate interest. One must assume that when the director frames the code, he will consult where he considers it appropriate to do so. Those whom he consults are likely to be appropriate consultees. I depart slightly from the hon. Lady's view in that it would be incorrect to put the Human Rights Commission on a pedestal that was equivalent to the Attorney-General and the Advocate-General.

My views on amendment No. 204 offer more comfort to the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh. The director should have regard to the United Nations guidelines on the role of prosecutors. It is appropriate for that to be included in the Bill, so that the Director of Public Prosecutions will take that as his starting point in framing the code of ethics. Combining that with the requirement to consult with the Attorney-General and the Advocate-General for Northern Ireland meets the aims of the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman wants to press amendment No. 204 to a vote, he will have my support. He does not have my support for amendment No. 203.