Police (Northern Ireland) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:30 pm on 8th November 2000.

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Photo of Lord Cope of Berkeley Lord Cope of Berkeley Conservative 7:30 pm, 8th November 2000

My Lords, with the Minister I was one of those noble Lords who criticised the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer, for the vagueness of his amendment in Committee. I acknowledge that he has listened to those criticisms. I agree with him that we all want and believe that the RUC--whatever it will be called--will follow very high standards on these lines. But I do not want to see them made into a statutory provisions for the reason that my noble friend Lord Tebbit summarised.

The police in this country generally, and the RUC in particular, are already subject to a whole lot of restraints. They are, I think, the most inspected, examined, monitored and supervised group of individuals that we have, with many bodies looking at them continuously--both official bodies and unofficial bodies in the media and so on. They inspect their every action, rethinking over a long period every split-second decision if it goes wrong. If we overdo that, we are in danger of making their lives impossible. We should also remember that the terrorists with which this particular police force has had to contend and may well have to contend again do not follow any remotely comparable codes. On the contrary, their standards are appalling.