Clause 5

Part of Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 6:30 pm on 16th January 2007.

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Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Northern Ireland Office 6:30 pm, 16th January 2007

I am satisfied that they would. The Bill is clear enough, and that is understood in criminal justice legislation and procedure generally. There has to be that close association between the two offences for there to be a finding of guilt on the lesser offence. That relationship has to exist; it is not possible for the court to switch dramatically from one offence to another.

Subsection (6) contains one of the main safeguards applicable to non-jury trial. Where the court convicts a defendant, it must give a judgment stating the reasons for the conviction at—or as soon as is reasonably practicable after—the time of the conviction. That helps to ensure the European convention on human rights compatibility of the system. It also provides transparency and helps to increase confidence that non-jury trials are fair. That is the point that the hon. Member for East Antrim made when we discussed clause 1. The fact that a trial is a non-jury trial does not mean that it is an unfair trial. The standard of justice has been very high indeed, and part of the underpinning of that is to ensure that the statement is made clearly at the end of the trial or as soon as possible afterwards. It is a safeguard to ensure that, in what are extraordinary, unusual circumstances, justice is done and—[Interruption.] My hon. Friend the Member for Foyle spots when I am getting to the end of my last sentence. Again, I will happily give way.