Police (Northern Ireland) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:00 pm on 8th November 2000.

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Photo of Lord Falconer of Thoroton Lord Falconer of Thoroton Minister of State, Cabinet Office 9:00 pm, 8th November 2000

My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 50 I shall speak also to Amendment No. 57.

Amendment No. 50 requires the Chief Constable to publish any guidance which he may issue to police officers in connection with notifiable memberships. This responds to points made by the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, and the noble Lord, Lord Elton, in Committee. I thank them for their contribution. The theme of this provision--as with so much of Patten--is to enhance transparency and openness within the police service, and this will aid that policy.

Turning to Amendment No. 57, in Committee we undertook to consider some means of qualifying the circumstances in which disclosure of information on notifiable memberships is defensible. This was in response to points made by the noble Lord, Lord Cooke of Islandreagh, who is not in his place. The amendment makes it clear that the defence is not available if it is shown that the person concerned used his position in some way to obtain the information in question. This is an important safeguard to ensure that those who have access to this sensitive information do not abuse their positions.

On the strength of Amendment No. 57, I invite the noble Lords, Lord Rogan, Lord Molyneaux and Lord Laird, not to move Amendment No. 56. I beg to move.