Orders and Regulations

Orders of the Day — Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 20th June 1991.

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Lords amendment: No. 15, in page 46, line 35, after ("4") insert ("or paragraph 7 of Schedule 5")

Photo of Dr Brian Mawhinney Dr Brian Mawhinney , Peterborough

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Photo of Mr Harold Walker Mr Harold Walker , Doncaster Central

With this, it will be convenient to take Lords amendment No. 30.

Photo of Dr Brian Mawhinney Dr Brian Mawhinney , Peterborough

Lords amendment No. 30 would place a duty on the Secretary of State to make a code of practice in connection with the exercise by authorised investigators of the powers conferred by schedule 5. Because those powers are, in some respects, as far-reaching as the powers of the security forces in relation to the detention, treatment, questioning and identification of persons detained under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989, we have thought it appropriate that their exercise should be regulated by a code. Such a code will act as a safeguard for those who are subject to the use of the powers and for the authorised investigators who are to exercise them. The detailed provisions relating to the making of the code are set out in Lords amendment No. 30.

Lords amendment No. 15 provides that an order bringing such a code into operation shall be subject to the negative resolution procedure.

The amendments introduce a significant safeguard. They have been welcomed in another place and by interested parties in Northern Ireland, including the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights, and I commend them to the House.

Photo of Mr Kevin McNamara Mr Kevin McNamara , Kingston upon Hull North

I welcome the Minister's announcement. When the question of greater and extensive powers being given to authorised investigators first jumped on the Committee, grave concern was expressed, particularly by my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Marshall) and the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon). The ability to channel powers and responsibilities into a code of practice is to be welcomed, and it ties in with a previous amendment in which we regularised the position of investigators as constables. The combination of the code of practice and the position of constables puts something that was vague, and therefore dangerous, when it was first presented to the Committee into a framework that may allay some of our earlier fears about the powers.

We welcome the proposal, but we shall have to see what is in the code before we can say that it is fully welcomed.

Question put and agreed to.

Subsequent Lords amendment agreed to.