Clause 1

Part of Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:45 pm on 16th January 2007.

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Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Leader of the Social Democratic & Labour Party 5:45 pm, 16th January 2007

First, questions or representations to a Minister might well come in circumstances where somebody finds themselves subject to a non-jury trial and they or their legal representative challenge the decision. It is as much as if to ask, “How can you be the Minister for this? Is this what you signed up for? This isn’t what you as Minister promised us would flow from the Good Friday agreement.”

Secondly, Members of the Assembly might want at the end of a given year or longer period to question the pattern of use of the power, or might have concerns about the number of times that it has been used, but there is nowhere particular for those questions to go. The hon. Member for North Down said earlier that I was trying to fetter or qualify the independence of the Director of Public Prosecutions, but we heard from the Secretary of State that the DPP will be influenced by MI5. Elected politicians will have no way of knowing what is going on and will not even be allowed to ask.