My Lords, Amendment No. 43, tabled in the name of my noble and learned friend Lord Archer of Sandwell, would require serving police officers to take the new "oath" within three months of this Bill coming into effect.
The primary purpose of the declaration (or oath, as it is commonly called) is to confer constabulary status upon the individual who makes it. To require existing officers to take the oath would, in effect, entail removal of this status and would thereby be in conflict with Patten's clear recommendation that the RUC should not be disbanded.
I can assure my noble and learned friend that the Government have already gone a considerable way in attempting to take account of what, in this instance, are conflicting recommendations from Patten. The provision was amended in another place to require the Chief Constable to bring the terms of the declaration to the attention of serving officers and to ensure that they understand the need to carry out their duties in accordance with it.
I am grateful to my noble and learned friend for his reference to constructive dialogue. I hope that, with this explanation, I have been able to assure my noble and learned friend that such constructive dialogue continues. I therefore invite him to withdraw his amendment.