22A Line 39, at end insert—
"47B APPOINTMENTS TO POLICE SERVICE OF NORTHERN IRELAND
(1) In the event that—
(a) the Chief Constable is unable to appoint his required number of police trainees or police support staff, or
(b) the number of serving officers is below that intended at the time of consideration,
the Secretary of State shall, at the request of the police board and acting on the recommendation of the Chief Constable, make an order to suspend the provisions of section 46 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 for a period of six months."
22B Line 41, after "17A" insert ", 17B"
22C Line 45, leave out "each member" and insert "a majority"
22D Line 47, at end insert—
"Recommendations under section 47B(1)
17B The Board shall not give an authorisation under section 47B(1) unless a proposal to make a request has been approved by a majority of the Board present and voting on the question at a meeting of the Board."
My Lords, I beg to move, as amendments to Commons Amendment No. 22, Amendments Nos. 22A to 22D.
It is not my intention to detain the House unnecessarily. Noble Lords will be well aware of our objections to the discriminatory recruitment policy for the Police Service of Northern Ireland.
I am reminded of words I used during the Report stage of consideration of the Bill: 50:50 has created a Catch 22 situation. Aware that the discriminatory recruitment policy has not worked—the Police Service of Northern Ireland is struggling to attract the number of recruits required to police Northern Ireland effectively—the Government have given themselves several get-out clauses. In the words of my party colleague in another place, Lady Hermon, the Government clearly want to have their cake and eat it. By allowing the Chief Constable to recruit constables with specified skills outside the 50:50 recruitment policy, the Government are prolonging the period for which discrimination will be applied.
The principle of equality of opportunity is central to the Belfast agreement. Policing should not be regarded as an exception; 50:50 recruitment denies equality of opportunity—it is nothing short of discrimination. It is a great source of grievance for a very large number of people across Northern Ireland. We in the Ulster Unionist Party have always been consistent in our opposition to 50:50 recruitment.
Amendments Nos. 22A, 22B, 22C and 22D provide that, at the request of a majority of the Policing Board, when the Chief Constable has a shortfall in recruits the provisions of Section 46-50:50—could be suspended for six months. It seems to me that while not ideal—we would very much welcome the complete withdrawal of Section 46—this is an extremely sensible amendment, designed to assist the Chief Constable to police Northern Ireland effectively and efficiently.
We were pleased to note that both Conservative and Liberal Democrat Members of Parliament in another place joined my party colleagues in the Lobbies last week on a similar amendment. I hope that I can enjoy the same privilege.
Moved, as amendments to Commons Amendment No. 22, Amendments Nos. 22A to 22D .—(Lord Rogan.)