Committee

Part of Northern Ireland Bill – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 11th March 2009.

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Photo of Baroness Harris of Richmond Baroness Harris of Richmond Deputy Speaker in the Lords, Deputy spokesperson for Northern Ireland, Home Affairs spokesperson for police matters, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 3:45 pm, 11th March 2009

I associate these Benches with the expression of revulsion and horror at the murder of PC Stephen Carroll. I have been advised today by the Police Federation of Northern Ireland that it is looking after the family of Stephen Carroll. I have expressed all our heartfelt sympathy to them.

I have a brief comment on Amendment 1. We agree that there could be difficulties if the Lord Chief Justice appointed the Attorney-General. One of the roles of the Attorney-General is of course to give legal advice to the Executive, and it could be very uncomfortable for the Lord Chief Justice to appoint the person who is to give legal advice to the Executive.

On Amendment 12, the Minister in the Commons reassured the House that the DPP is independent and that his independence is written across the criminal justice system. Members from Northern Ireland also said that the independence of the DPP has been accepted across Northern Ireland. We are in some difficulty about whether any specific instances have led the Conservatives to worry that the DPP is not independent, other than that stated by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, that there could be an unacceptable degree of political pressure and that the DPP could be accused of bias. In both cases the word "could" made us a little concerned. I should be grateful to hear whether any specific instances have led to their concerns.