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 do not dispute the essence of the point that the Minister makes. Perhaps we could have avoided the impasse had some previous amendments been taken a little more seriously, but that did not transpire.

The far-reaching proposals for the new prosecution service were expected to be implemented rapidly. Many see the early and complete introduction of the new arrangements as a fundamental and crucial test of the determination of the Government to create a criminal justice system that can command the support of all. Page 33 of the implementation plan states that the new

''arrangements will apply to appointments taking place after devolution''.

However, nothing in the criminal justice review suggests that they should be deferred until then. On the contrary, the review group specifically referred to the need for a new approach for substantial organisational change. Subsection (2) is an example of selective implementation of the recommendations, and should be removed.

Following your ruling, Mr. Conway, I would like to make observations on amendment No. 291, which would leave out subsection (4), the provisions of which cast grave doubt on the commitment to break with the past and introduce real change to the prosecution service. Subsection (4) will allow the service to defer indefinitely the full implementation of one of the key recommendations of the report. It will allow the DPP-in all probability, barring natural wastage, it will be the DPP who was in place before the change-to comply only partially with the duty to take over the conduct of criminal prosecutions from the police. It is a fundamental weakness that he has to consider whether it is ''reasonably practicable'' for him to do so.

One of the Minister's arguments for the transfer of the existing DPP into the post is that it would provide continuity. One assumes that in the intervening period the administrative procedure and work would have taken place, and that the loose term ''reasonably practicable'' should not apply. Under the Bill, the DPP can fulfil as much or as little of the duty as he wants. It will be entirely for him to decide when he is prepared to comply with his statutory duties, which is bound to be unsatisfactory in every sense.