Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc) Act 2019 Section 3(2)

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019 (Rule of Law) – in the House of Commons at 8:59 pm on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Julian Smith Julian Smith The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 8:59 pm, 9th September 2019

I think my right hon. Friend, who has spoken very persuasively on this issue for many years, makes some important points, but I return to the fact that the Government are looking at all these issues in our cross-Whitehall review.

In Northern Ireland, just as in England and Wales, prosecutorial decisions are made independently of Government. The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland is not under the superintendence of the Attorney General for Northern Ireland. The Director of Public Prosecutions has a consultative relationship with the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, but the former cannot be compelled by the latter. This feature of the relationship between these key figures is an important component of the devolution settlement in Northern Ireland, and it is not within the UK Government’s powers to direct the Attorney General for Northern Ireland or the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland. Members will be aware that what is central in these cases is not how an individual came to have a weapon, but what they did with it, and it is for the courts, not the Government, to determine innocence and guilt.