New clause 5 - Equality Duty

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:30 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 9:30, 14 Chwefror 2002

I take the Minister's point, but I am not competent to give examples of the situation that he describes-I simply cannot envisage any. Nor can I envisage the DPP and his office working properly if their policies are not in accord with the equality duty in section 75. I would be greatly disturbed if I thought that the policies or the procedures of the DPP's office

did not comply with that duty. I fail to see the distinction between the operation of the policies and the operation of the procedures, or how those could stray into and affect individual cases in relation to the equality duty. People with more experience of dealing with legal matters might be able to advise us as to how that might happen. I do not see how policies would not be amenable to the equality duty or would affect a case in a detrimental way. The same applies to procedures. I cannot understand why the procedures of the DPP's office and the other agencies would be such that they would not be required to be in accord with the equality duty.

The Minister asked for an answer, but I cannot give him one. I cannot envisage circumstances in which anyone would suggest that the agencies involved in criminal justice should not be required to be compatible with the greatest element of justice in our system, which is the duty on equality in section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998.