Restricted eligibility for early release of terrorist prisoners: Northern Ireland

Part of Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 2nd July 2020.

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Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 2:15 pm, 2nd July 2020

Clause 30 and the amendments to it essentially apply to Northern Ireland. Some months ago in Parliament, we debated the provisions to end the automatic early release of terrorist prisoners. Committee members will recall that at the time we did not apply those provisions to Northern Ireland. But having carefully considered, in particular, the European convention on human rights and common law retrospectivity provisions, we are now comfortable that those principles are not infringed by applying the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Act 2020 provisions to Northern Ireland, and this clause does so.

Amendments 33 and 34 are consequential on those changes. Amendment 33 ensures that terrorist prisoners who will serve longer in custody as a result of the Bill are not released early for the purposes of deportation under the early removal scheme in Northern Ireland. That is a consequential point. Amendment 34 ensures, for offenders who will be newly eligible for parole commissioner-considered release through the provisions of this Bill in Northern Ireland, that that is done in accordance with the parole commissioners’ existing rules. That brings Northern Ireland fully into conformity with the rest of the United Kingdom.