New clause 1 - Discrimination in appointments

Part of Police (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 11th March 2003.

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Photo of Jane Kennedy Jane Kennedy Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office 3:15 pm, 11th March 2003

Indeed. For officers of sergeant rank and above, that facility is available, if the Chief Constable wants to use it.

The problem with the new clauses is that they go too far and could significantly undermine the 50:50 recruitment policy, to which we remain firmly committed. Why are we so committed to it? [Interruption.] I sometimes wonder why it should need stating. Yesterday, I had the privilege to meet three people who were making representations to me on a different point. Their fathers had been serving officers with the Royal Ulster Constabulary who were murdered in the 1970s. Our focus is to bring about circumstances in which those murderous attacks no longer happen.

The 50:50 recruitment arrangements, which change the composition of the PSNI, will bring us to the point where the PSNI is not only representative of but wholly supported by all of the communities represented throughout Northern Ireland. They will do so more quickly and more effectively than any of the other arrangements proposed today. It is on that basis that we continue to support 50:50, notwithstanding the representations that have been made about the grief that it causes to those who fail in the recruitment process. I hope that the Committee will reject the new clauses. Indeed, I invite the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the motion.