Clause 38 - Code for Prosecutors

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 6:22 pm ar 5 Chwefror 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Sylvia Hermon Sylvia Hermon Shadow Spokesperson (Women), Shadow Spokesperson (Trade and Industry), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 6:22, 5 Chwefror 2002

That is right.

In paragraph 3.25 of the criminal justice review, the review team recommend that

''human rights issues should become a permanent and integral part of training programmes for all those working in criminal justice agencies, the legal professions and the relevant parts of the voluntary sector.''

On the basis of that recommendation I am happy to support the part of the amendment of the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh that refers to consultation with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. Given my track record of criticism of it, that is a major advance on my part.

The bad news is that I am concerned by the reference to the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister. I am specifically concerned by it because of the terms of reference that the review team lays down in the agreement, which are usefully quoted on page 2. The review group was duty bound under its terms of reference to consider

''arrangements for the organisation and supervision of the prosecution process, and for safeguarding its independence.''

Quite frankly, I do not believe that it is appropriate that the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister—I notice that on this occasion they do not have to act jointly—should consult on the code for prosecutors when two MLAs are being consulted.

Paragraph (c) of the new subsection proposed by the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh concerns me because it is open-ended and too wide. It mentions

''any other person appearing to the Director to have an interest in the matter''.

I would like him to give some idea of the scope of the provision and of the people who are covered by that paragraph.