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 Dubs Lord Dubs Chair of Labour Peers 9:45 pm, 8th November 2000

My Lords, if I understood the noble Lord, Lord Cope, correctly, he said that he thought that there was, on occasion, the need for co-operation between the two governments and yet his amendment seems to preclude such co-operation which is, at present, provided on the face of the Bill. I hope that I have not misinterpreted what he said, but that is certainly what I understood him to say.

Perhaps I may say why I am not happy about the amendment. Certainly, from my time in Northern Ireland, I recall that frequently there was good co-operation between the two governments on a whole range of matters. Indeed, there was also good co-operation between the RUC and the Garda Siochana. Such co-operation at both local and governmental levels seemed to me to be desirable in the interests of all the people in Northern Ireland.

There may be occasions when it will be appropriate for the two governments to reach an agreement, particularly if, as seems likely, there is a need for legislation in the other jurisdiction. It would be sensible if there was agreement between the two governments so that the legislation in the other jurisdiction fitted in with the arrangements. That could deal with a whole range of matters, such as inter-service secondment, which has been discussed, or possibly pension arrangements. Those items would not concern the operational independence of the Chief Constable. I should have thought that that was a sensible arrangement. It is not helpful to have an amendment which would preclude the possibility of such an arrangement between the two governments.