Clause 82 - Provision for Northern Irelandcorresponding to s. 81

Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:20 pm on 8th March 2001.

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Amendments made: No. 179, in page 70, line 40, at end insert—

`( ) In paragraph (8)(a) (saving for power conferred by Immigration Act 1971), after ``1971'' there shall be inserted ``or section 20 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 (disclosure of police information to the Secretary of State for use for immigration purposes);'.

No. 180, in page 70, line 41, leave out subsection (5) and insert—

`( ) The fingerprints, samples and information the retention and use of which, in accordance with the amended provisions of Article 64 of the Order of 1989, is authorised by this section include—

(a) fingerprints and samples the destruction of which should have taken place before the commencement of this section, but did not; and

(b) information deriving from any such samples or from samples the destruction of which did take place, in accordance with that Article, before the commencement of this section.'.—[Mr. Charles Clarke.]

Question proposed, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

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

I do not want to repeat the lengthy and thorough debate on clause 81. However, similar issues arise in regard to clause 82, with the additional concern, in the context of prosecutions in Northern Ireland, of the many sensitive terrorist cases. We all know of the many apparent miscarriages of justice revealed by subsequent re-analysis of forensic scientific evidence—fingerprints and the like. I am sure that the Minister recognises that it would therefore be wrong simply to allow the clause to go through on the nod without Opposition Members raising the kind of concerns that we had on clause 8. If I may say so, that goes double for clause 82 because of the sensitive issues relating to the Province.

Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green 5:30 pm, 8th March 2001

I appreciate the point, but would not the hon. Gentleman accept that special circumstances obtain in Northern Ireland? Because of difficulties with witnesses, the demand for forensic evidence may be even greater there than on the mainland. That, surely, is a persuasive argument for taking that route.

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

Not for the first time, the hon. Gentleman makes a good point, and I agree with him. My experience in the courts of England and Wales included one or two cases that involved special branch officers and members of the security services sitting at the back of the court. Indeed, the person with whom I did my pupillage as a barrister was involved in one of the biggest terrorist cases of those years. I do not say that the Opposition are opposed in principle to what the Government suggest. As the Committee knows, we believe that the Government have mishandled some of the issues relating to Ulster in recent years, but it would be out of order, Mr. Gale, if I went down that road now. We could say much about Northern Ireland, but it might not be in order.

We want to reinforce the concerns that were expressed about clause 81. The Minister said in response to that debate that it was a perfectly principled position to take to vote against the whole of clause 81; indeed, the Liberal Democrats took it. We did not do so, and we will not vote against clause 82; but the same issues will arise on Report. Given that there are no members of the minority parties on the Committee—

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

There are the Liberal Democrats.

Mr. Hawkins: I should have said in relation to Ulster. Ulster Unionist Members and Social Democratic and Labour Party Members may want to speak on this clause on Report. It is therefore right to place on the record the concerns that we expressed about clause 81 and to say that the points that we made on our amendments to that clause apply also to clause 82.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

The hon. Member for Hall Green unwittingly mentioned Ulster Members; the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) is a member of the Committee, but he has not attended. However, that does not preclude him or other Members from making contributions on Report. Again, I doubt whether the hon. Member for Hall Green meant to say it, but he implied that my hon. Friend the Member for Taunton and I eventually came to our principled position on clause 81. We took that position at the start and did not waver. The Minister's arguments did not move us.

I shall not repeat the substantive arguments. It would be illogical for us not to take the same view in relation to the provision for Northern Ireland as we did for England and Wales. We voted against the England and Wales clause and we believe that the same should apply in Northern Ireland. The powers in relation to DNA and the like should be the same. We shall therefore oppose the clause.

Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Minister of State, Home Office

I agree that the logic behind clause 82 is similar to that behind clause 81. The situation in Northern Ireland is different, but we believe that the fundamental logic is similar. I shall urge my hon. Friends to vote for the clause. I find it utterly extraordinary that Conservative Members can give a no-vote to some of these clauses, but I entirely understand the Liberal Democrat position.

Photo of Charles Clarke Charles Clarke Minister of State, Home Office

No, I will not. The hon. Member for Surrey Heath may sum up if he wishes. I move that the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

If one seeks to amend a clause and the amendment is voted down, it seems logical to abstain on clause stand part. It does not mean that we do not support the principle.

Question put, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 2.

Division number 43 Adults Abused in Childhood — Clause 82 - Provision for Northern Irelandcorresponding to s. 81

Aye: 8 MPs

No: 2 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 82, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.