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 Archer of Sandwell Lord Archer of Sandwell Labour 7:30 pm, 8th November 2000

My Lords, the amendment was an attempt to answer the problem that many of your Lordships have repeated during our debates: how do we gain the confidence of the nationalist community--not the paramilitaries--that the police force will be concerned with human rights and equality? The alternative seems to be not attempting to answer that question.

I understand the arguments. The noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, and I must agree to differ about the value of internationally agreed standards. This is not the first time that we have differed on the subject and I dare say that we will go to our graves on different sides of that argument.

I confess that I do not know how many police forces are required to observe the standards, for which the noble Lord, Lord Monson, asked. However, I am pretty sure that hardly another police force in the world is confronted with so many problems as the police force of Northern Ireland. If it is a special case, we all understand why.

In response to the noble Lord, Lord Cope, if I were a policeman I would probably feel that I was a little over-supervised sometimes, but if I knew that the reason was that we were trying to secure the confidence of a section of the community that was currently doubtful about the force, I might consider it a price worth paying.

However, I know when I am licked. I am grateful for my noble friend's assurances. No purpose would be served by seeking to persuade her to change her mind. I am sure that her comments will provide some reassurance to those who suggested that I table the amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.