Clause 87 - Transitionals and savings

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:00 am ar 14 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 11:00, 14 Chwefror 2002

I take the point, but is it not much more important that we recognise recommendation 30 of the review group on timing? It states:

''the timing of commencement of legislation that will flow from our recommendations''-

that means what we have been doing for the past three weeks-

''should be planned so as to ensure that all necessary resources, preparation and training are in place and completed before procedural changes are introduced.''

Are we satisfied that that recommendation is being met and shall be met? Are those of us charged with producing the legislative changes satisfied that our time frame and the time frame to be given to the incumbent DPP will not be restricted by the open-ended way in which the new DPP-who will be the old DPP-can decide about when it is reasonably practical to take on all prosecutions, including those now dealt with by the police? The Minister might have some views on that, and I shall be interested to hear them.

The implementation plan openly envisages that

''the new service will extend its role on an incremental basis''.

When I see phrases such as ''incremental basis'' in implementation plans, I wonder about the speed at which matters will operate. I have seen implementation plans promise incremental change before, and speed was not then of the essence.

I believe that the provision is a flaw in the Bill and that it is not what the review group recommended. I ask that we change it so that we have full and speedy implementation of the new arrangements for conducting prosecutions. We expect the necessary resources to be made available for that to happen. That is the minimum requirement if people are to believe that there is real change in the system. We do not want delay, nor do we want piecemeal implementation. Subsection (2) is, in many ways, an open invitation to those who want to resist change, which some people want, including some in the justice system. To leave things as they are, under the pretence that a new dispensation is taking place, will be fatal to the entire project's prospects of success.

I believe that we who are charged with drawing up the legislation should make decisions that do not allow lax, open-ended, arbitrary, incremental decisions to be made by someone given the absolute authority to implement a crucial, core element of the Bill.