Police (Northern Ireland) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:15 pm on 8th November 2000.

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Photo of Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton Government Whip 11:15 pm, 8th November 2000

My Lords, Amendments Nos. 77 and 78 seek to remove the provision requiring the chairman of the board to notify members of a meeting to consider a request for an inquiry. The noble Lord, Lord Smith of Clifton, and the noble Baroness, Lady Harris of Richmond, tabled similar amendments in Committee.

The Government's view is that the provisions in the Bill, Schedule 1, paragraph 18, which are based on arrangements already in place in local government legislation in Northern Ireland--the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972--are unexceptional. The use of the inquiry power itself would only arise in grave or exceptional circumstances. It seems to the Government that a mechanism should be in place to ensure that all members are aware of meetings to discuss such important issues.

The noble Lord, Lord Rogan, referred to the safeguards that are in place at a subsequent meeting at which a decision would be taken as to whether or not to proceed with the inquiry. We believe it is important that all members of the board should be aware of a meeting that is to discuss that possibility. Therefore, I ask the noble Lord, Lord Rogan, not to press the amendment.