New clause 5 - Equality Duty

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:45 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 9:45, 14 Chwefror 2002

This is the heart of the matter that needs to be resolved. I understand what the Minister says, but surely the terms of the required proofing would not apply to specific cases; what must comply are, first, the policies of an organisation and, secondly, the procedures. Stemming from that, those policies would be applied to individual cases, as would the procedure. As to the principles in section 75, how can it be wrong for the principles of equality established in relation to policies and procedures to be applied practically in individual cases?

It is not as if the equality duty would be impartial of itself-quite the opposite. Policies begin to mean something only when they are applied. The highest standard of application is surely the best. The same applies to procedures. They may be efficient and may look good on paper, but they, too, will surely work more beneficially if the highest standard is applied to them. The highest standard of equality is the one specified in section 75.

I remain convinced that applying that standard would be right and that, regardless of any arcane twist of illogicality, it should be in the Bill. I cannot foresee circumstances, in relation to how the Director of Public Prosecutions or ombudsman perform their duties, in which the requirement for equality would be detrimental to the actions of their departments.