Clause 53 - Aims of youth justice system

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 12 Chwefror 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr Seamus Mallon Mr Seamus Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party, Newry and Armagh 10:30, 12 Chwefror 2002

I could not disagree with a word that my hon. Friend has said. However, I am attempting to ensure that the tone changes and, with it, the declaration of intent in the legislation to make those aims a priority, which the clause does not seem to make them. We must ensure that children in the justice system are treated with dignity, and that all actions taken within the system are taken with the best interests of the child firmly in mind, not just his welfare.

I do not want to argue about semantics, but there is a substantial difference between welfare and best interests. Welfare is the fulfilling of responsibilities in a fairly cold way, whereas dealing with a young person's best interests goes beyond that. I know that hon. Members who have dealt with young people will recognise that substantive difference.

The amendment is important because it provides a declaration of intent. It sets out not only what we shall do, but what our approach will be. The tone that it gives the Bill could help us to achieve our aims.

I believe that amendment No. 286 was grouped with the present amendments on Thursday, and, if I may—