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 Archer of Sandwell Lord Archer of Sandwell Labour 9:00 pm, 8th November 2000

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, mentioned to me yesterday that, unavoidably, he has to be absent. He greatly regrets it. He asked me to add my name to his amendment and to move it. I thought that I had added my name; however, it does not appear on the Marshalled List. However, I understand that that does not preclude me from moving the amendment.

The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, was kind enough to write out for me what he would have said had he been present. Perhaps the fairest thing I can do is to try to follow it as closely as I can without being tiresome.

The noble Lord says that in drafting the amendment he has tried to follow as closely as possible the intention and language of the Bill. Clause 32 provides that police officers shall be guided by the code of ethics referred to in Clause 52. The clause states that the Chief Constable shall ensure that all police officers--that is, existing officers and new constables--have read and understood the code. The noble Lord seeks to strengthen this wording by providing that they must not only read the code, but must also undertake to be guided by it in all aspects of their general duty and functions.

There is good reason for this. There are those who suspect that existing officers may read and understand the code but then proceed to forget about it. That is why the noble Lord wishes all officers to undertake freely to be guided in their work by the code. Impartiality and good standards of conduct and practice, mentioned earlier in this clause and in Clause 38, depend on it. Officers must not only be aware of convention rights; they must also be continually guided by the explanation of such rights given in the code. The noble Lord says that he wants to see a police service that is acceptable to all sides of the population.

That is what the noble Lord kindly wrote out for me. I merely add: so do I. I beg to move.