Clause 1

Part of Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 16th January 2007.

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Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Leader of the Social Democratic & Labour Party 4:45 pm, 16th January 2007

Given our earlier discussions, hon. Members will not be surprised to hear that I oppose the amendment. If it were to be accepted, those hon. Members representing constituencies on this island might start to catch on to the concern expressed by the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire that aspects of the Bill might be rolled out into UK-wide legislation. The Minister tried to assure hon. Members earlier that the focus is purely on Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland-related terrorist or paramilitary organisations. If the amendment were agreed to, the argument would  be that if the Government are prepared to have non-jury trials for proscribed organisations that have nothing to do with the Irish situation in Northern Ireland, surely that would be the precedent for not having jury trials for those organisations elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

I know that the hon. Lady is trying to remove an awkward term from the Bill, and of course the term was in the Northern Ireland (Offences) Bill, too. The exemptions and certificates that were going to be afforded then were for any offence committed by anybody in relation to the affairs of Northern Ireland. I know why the term is questionable for many people, and I make that point in response to the comments made by the hon. Member for Montgomeryshire and the Minister. However, my reason for opposing the amendment is that it still does nothing to do away with Diplock courts. It does not alter the basic thrust of the Bill, which is to provide for continuity Diplock courts.