Clause 8 - Statements by constables

Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:30 pm on 15th February 2001.

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Question proposed [this day], That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Question again proposed.

Photo of Mr David Lock Mr David Lock Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department

The substantive point raised by hon. Members is the question whether the system for a constable witness statement, which would not be mandatory, but elective, is compatible with the European convention on human rights. I understand that point and refer hon. Members to the statement in the Bill from my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, which refers to its compatibility under section 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998. I appreciate the points that have been made, especially by the hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins), but will he consider over the half-term recess whether he wants to put to me in writing his concerns about a possible breach of human rights? His observations were rather general—I do not criticise him for that—but I undertake to consider any matters of substance posed orally or in writing.

Given the specific nature of the requirements of the Human Rights Act, it is one thing for the hon. Gentleman to say that he is concerned that there may be human rights implications and another to say so after the Government have considered the matter and are satisfied as to the Bill's compliance. I will consider specific concerns put in writing.

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath

I thank the Parliamentary Secretary for his constructive approach to that issue. Over the half-term break, will he and his officials consider whether any there are any parallels with the chosen method of bypassing section 9 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967?

Photo of Mr David Lock Mr David Lock Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department

I will examine that matter, and if the hon. Gentleman wishes to write to me about it, I will provide the information as part of my reply and ensure that, if it is relevant, other members of the Committee can receive it as well.

The point about human rights was the only substantive one raised on the constable's witness statement. As I said, it is not a requirement, but an option for the police that is designed to cut down on their paperwork and ensure that constables can operate more efficiently. With that proviso, I commend the clause to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 8 ordered to stand part of the Bill.