Clause 20 - Restriction on disclosure of information
Police (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords]
Mr Paul Goodman (Wycombe, Conservative)
Perhaps the Minister will make this point in her reply; I scarcely dare suggest it. My hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne may be making rather heavy weather of the matter. If information were to be disclosed to the Secretary of State in certain circumstances, I suspect—although I am not a lawyer—that it would be disclosed also to senior civil servants and similar persons. In a law suit, a similar consideration could apply to the Chief Constable. We are dealing with what is essentially a new provision on the restriction of the disclosure of information and
with exceptions to that. To make exceptions in the case of the board is, as I understand it, a new departure. I presume that the wording was included to give members of the board, or staff who work for it, some kind of clear protection in law. Perhaps the Minister will correct me when she responds, but I strongly suspect that that is the case.
I hate to tangle with my hon. Friend, but I bring him some solace. He was right to say that the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh made rather heavy weather of the matter this morning by tabling his amendments relating to the ombudsman, because it could be assumed also that that ombudsman, in certain circumstances, is allowed to share information with senior members of his staff.