Clause 2 - Certification commissioner
Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill
Lady Hermon (North Down, UUP)
I am sorry. The Minister’s body language indicates that he is exasperated, but I am glad to know he is not and that he is enjoying himself. If he is enjoying himself, perhaps he will explain what his ministerial colleague, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, means by this? Yesterday—so, very recently—under the heading “Hain pledges support to victims and witnesses of crime”, the Northern Ireland Office was still quoting a statement that the Secretary of State made on 20 July:
“Providing quality support to victims and witnesses is crucial if they are to be enabled to make an effective contribution to bringing perpetrators to justice.”
This Bill is not bringing perpetrators to justice; it is giving them an amnesty. If it is the articulated position of the Secretary of State that victims and witnesses are to be given a crucial role and to make an effective contribution towards bringing to justice those who are guilty of the most heinous crimes, why on earth is the Minister defending the position under which the victims, and perhaps witnesses, are written out until after the certificate is given?