Clause 15 - Review by appeals commissioners

Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 15th December 2005.

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

Photo of David Taylor David Taylor Labour, North West Leicestershire

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following: Amendment No. 109, in clause 18, page 9, line 41, leave out ‘Special Appeal Tribunal’ and insert ‘Court of Appeal’.

New clause 14—Review by Court of Appeal—

‘(1)The exercise of functions under this Act by—

(a)the certification commissioner, or

(b)the Secretary of State, may be questioned in legal proceedings only the Court of Appeal.

(2)The Court of Appeal is the appropriate tribunal for the purposes of section 7 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (c. 42) in relation to proceedings all or part of which call into question the exercise of any of the functions under this Act of—

(a)the certification commissioner, or

(b)the Secretary of State.’.

New clause 15—Appeal to Court of Appeal—

‘(1)A person convicted of an offence at the Crown Court may appeal to the Court of Appeal.

(2)He may appeal—

(a)against his conviction, on any ground;

(b)against sentence passed on conviction, unless the sentence is fixed by law.

(3)For the purposes of subsection (2) (b) an order under Article 5 (1) or (3) of the Life Sentences (Northern Ireland) Order 2001 (S.I., 2001 / 2564 (N.I. 2)) (tariffs etc., in life sentence cases) is a sentence passed on conviction (but not a sentence fixed by law).

(4)No leave is required for an appeal to be brought under this section.

(5)There is no appeal from the Court of Appeal exercising jurisdiction under this section.’.

New clause 16—Review of appeals commissioners by Court of Appeal—

‘(1)The exercise of functions under this Act by the appeals commissioners may be questioned in legal proceedings only before the Court of Appeal.

(2)The Court of Appeal is the appropriate tribunal for the purposes of section 7 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (c. 42) in relation to proceedings all or part of which call into question the exercise of any of the functions under this Act of the appeals commissioners.

(3)There is no appeal from the Court of Appeal exercising jurisdiction under this section.’.

Photo of Lembit Öpik Lembit Öpik Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Affairs, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Welsh Affairs

Once again, the proposals relate to the debates we had under clauses 8 and 13 on trial by the Crown Court, rather than under a special tribunal, and appeals to the Court of Appeal. We believe that these cases should be tried in the same way as any other terrorist offences, by the criminal justice system of Northern Ireland, and the amendments reflect that.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

I am conscious that there might be a Division in the House shortly, so I will attempt to be brief.

Clause 15 introduces arrangements for the review of decisions by the certification commissioner and the Secretary of State. That review will be undertaken by the appeals commissioners—who will, of course, be chaired by a retired judge. That will replace any judicial review of decisions, and the purpose of the arrangements is to support the creation of a distinct,   separate and self-contained system for examining these matters. That is consistent with provisions in earlier clauses that we have discussed.

Photo of Lembit Öpik Lembit Öpik Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Affairs, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Welsh Affairs

We have had this debate several times, and nothing has really changed. I note the Minister’s comments, and it would not be appropriate to press the amendment.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes 16, Noes 12.

Division number 46 Nimrod Review — Statement — Clause 15 - Review by appeals commissioners

Aye: 15 MPs

No: 11 MPs

Nos: A-Z by last name

NOES

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 15 ordered to stand part of the Bill.