Police (Northern Ireland) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:45 pm on 8th November 2000.

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Photo of Lord Cope of Berkeley Lord Cope of Berkeley Conservative 9:45 pm, 8th November 2000

My Lords, no; it was not moved. That is it. I am dealing with Amendment No. 67A, which concerns a different subject; namely, co-operation with the Garda. The previous amendment was a much more partisan matter and the Government's insistence on dropping the present badge will be regarded as a very highly partisan decision by a large number of people, including myself. But I do not want to become involved in a discussion on that because, at present, I am moving Amendment No. 67A about co-operation with the Garda, which is not a partisan matter.

We all wish that there should be the maximum co-operation. There is a great deal of co-operation now. In chapter 18 of his report, Patten recommended some specific measures for increasing co-operation. The only difference between us is the precise wording in the Bill.

The Bill suggests that the board and the Chief Constable shall implement arrangements in pursuance of agreements between the two governments--the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of the Republic. However, Patten suggested that there should be agreements between the police forces. He used the analogy of the agreements that the Kent Police Force has with some of the continental forces. There are a large number of agreements and co-operation in different fields between the different forces.

I am all in favour of police forces co-operating and, as a general rule, although it is not Holy Writ, as it were, the lower the level at which that co-operation takes place, the better. It was my observation, when I was responsible for those matters in Northern Ireland, that the co-operation at a low level between Garda individual police stations and the individual police stations of the RUC could be very good, and closer than the government in the South wanted it to be, as far as I could see at that particular time. Such co-operation is extremely good and it is that sort of co-operation which Patten is suggesting in terms of joint training and other such measures.

I want to see not only co-operation with great agreements between the two governments--because there is a place for that; but the co-operation needs to be much wider and deeper than that, as Patten suggested. I beg to move.