Clause 40

Part of Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 18th January 2007.

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Photo of Alan Reid Alan Reid Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland) 3:15 pm, 18th January 2007

I wish to speak to the new clause that stands in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Montgomeryshire. Its effect would be that the powers that we have just debated in clauses 20 to 39 would have to be renewed annually. On Second Reading, we asked the Minister how long he envisaged that the powers in those clauses would be in place; we would like to see a situation in which such powers were no longer necessary in Northern Ireland. Although clause 40 provides for the Secretary of State to repeal sections 20 to 39, there is no provision for Parliament to take stock of whether the powers are still necessary or to debate how they are being used. The clause allows the Secretary of State rather than Parliament to decide when such a debate might take place, and we believe that it is important that Parliament should have an annual debate.

Clause 39 very helpfully requires a reviewer to produce a report on the operation of the powers, but makes no automatic provision for Parliament to consider the reviewer’s findings. It would be useful, given the nature of the powers, for Parliament to discuss how they are being used and to take account of the views expressed by the reviewer. New clause 5 is, therefore, a simple repeal and renewal clause. It states that the provisions of sections 20 to 39 should lapse at the end of a 12-month period, but should be ableto be renewed by statutory instrument for a further12 months. That is similar to mechanisms thatare already in place—for example, the arms decommissioning schemes in Northern Ireland and control orders in the United Kingdom as a whole.