Clause 1

Part of Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 16th January 2007.

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Photo of Sylvia Hermon Sylvia Hermon UUP, North Down 4:30 pm, 16th January 2007

Thank you, Sir Nicholas. It was nice of you to describe my contribution as valuable to this Committee, particularly since I was disagreeing, saying, “No, no and no again” to the Minister’s typically persuasive and eloquent argument. The Committee will not be persuaded by his eloquence on this occasion, however, because it is inconceivable that it could recognise that the conditions outlined in clause 1 would be met to the satisfaction of the Director of Public Prosecutions and that he would also be satisfied that, because of those conditions, there is a risk that the administration of  justice might be impaired. The Minister is trying to persuade us that, even though he cannot conceive of any instance in which the DPP would not issue a certificate, he is still not convinced that he should change the DPP’s discretion, which is indicated by the use of the word “may” in clause 1(2), into a duty.

The Minister eloquently reminded us in this morning’s sitting that we really have nothing to worry about, because if there is any danger at all of jury tampering, it will be picked up under the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The Act gained Royal Assent four years ago and I think that he hinted that section 44 is its key provision, but that came into force only today or this week.