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Lady Hermon: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way to me on a second occasion. May I ask him to reflect upon something that he brought to the attention of the Standing Committee? He saidit is a wonderful quotation:
Mr. Browne: I was about to come to the difference between "representative" and "reflective", but the hon. Lady brings me to it just as quickly. I do not necessarily agree that there will be a growing body of judicial interpretation distinguishing between "representative" and "reflective". My reading of the debates in which it has been considered suggests to me that there is very little between them, and that it is a nuance, rather than a serious distinction.
Amendment No. 23 is a minor technical amendment. The deleted words are unnecessary, as the First Minister and Deputy First Minister will only ever be able to acquire money appropriated through the Northern Ireland Act 1998. They crept into the Bill by error, although of course they do no harm. An amendment to clause 22amendment No. 5, which we will debate laterwas tabled in the Lords Grand Committee to make further provision regarding money being provided by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. That provision does not repeat the unnecessary words. The deletion of those words therefore seems right and sensible, so that the two provisions dealing with funding by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister are consistent.
Lords amendment No. 3.
Mr. Browne: The amendments are technical and relate to the role and functions of lay magistrates. As a result of a major trawl of Westminster and Northern Ireland legislation, we identified those functions which are to remain with justices of the peace, those which are to transfer to lay magistrates and those which will more appropriately lie with resident magistrates. The policy on assignment of the various functions was developed in line with the recommendations of the review report. I am thinking particularly of recommendations 116 and 117, which are to be found at paragraphs 7.53 and 7.54 of the
Lords amendment No. 3 explains the relevant subsections of the Treatment of Offenders Act (Northern Ireland) 1968 and the Treatment of Offenders (Northern Ireland) Order 1976, which relate to the powers that are to be transferred to lay magistrates. It also identifies a further power to allow lay magistrates, when sitting as a magistrates court, to remand to the Crown court, on bail or in custody, a person who has been arrested on a warrant issued by the Crown court.
Lords amendment No. 4 defines the term "function" used in clause 10, which deals with functions transferred from justices of the peace, as a function conferred by legislation passed or made before clause 10 comes into force. The amendment ensures that in future we can confer functions on justices of the peace without those functions automatically transferring to lay magistrates under clause 10.
Lords amendment No. 25 adds article 45 of the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 and refers to a list of functions that can be exercised by resident magistrates only. Under it, only a resident magistrate sitting as a magistrates court, not a lay magistrate, shall have the power to issue a warrant for further detention in police custody. That is consistent with the recommendations of the review report with regard to the powers exercisable by lay persons in the criminal justice system. In that regard, I point to recommendation 115 at paragraph 7.52 of the report.
Lords amendment No. 26 is concerned with the Lord Chancellor's power under paragraph 4 of schedule 4. That power allows the Lord Chancellor to make further amendments to legislation dealing with the transfer of functions currently performed by justices of the peace. The amendment provides that this power can be exercised only in relation to existing statutory provisions. The effect is that it will not be possible for the Lord Chancellor, using the power in the Bill, to transfer to other office-holders functions of justices of the peace conferred on them by the new legislation.
Lords amendment No. 31 is entirely technical, and simply removes reference to the advisory committee on juvenile court lay panel members from part 7 of schedule 1 to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The committee is a non-statutory body whose function is to advise the Lord Chancellor on appointments to the office of lay panellist. The functions of lay panellists are to transfer to lay magistrates under clause 11 of the Bill.
Post-devolution, lay magistrates will be appointed by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister on the recommendation of the Judicial Appointments Commission. The advisory committee on juvenile lay panel members will, therefore, cease to exist once the new arrangements for the appointment of lay magistrates come into force. Consequently, it is no longer necessary to refer to the committee in the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The requirements of that Act will apply to the Judicial Appointments Commission by virtue of schedule 2(20) of this Bill.
Lords amendment: No. 5, in page 14, line 15, at end insert
"(2A) The Attorney General for Northern Ireland is to be funded by the First Minister and deputy First Minister, acting jointly.
(2B) The Attorney General for Northern Ireland may appoint staff, but subject to the approval of the First Minister and deputy First Minister as to
(b) salary, and
(c) other conditions of service."
Lady Hermon: I should explain to the House that we had our own Attorney General in Northern Ireland until direct rule in the 1970s, and clause 22 proposes the return of an Attorney General for Northern Ireland after justice functions have been devolved. That is a key commitment. I was unable to catch your eye earlier, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in order to intervene when the Minister suggested that the people of Northern Ireland had voted for an agreement that contained the provision for the First Minister and Deputy First Minister to make the appointment acting jointly. They certainly did not vote for that.
Mr. Blunt: May I invite the hon. Lady to clarify her statement that an Attorney General would return to Northern Ireland following the devolution of justice functions? I am not sure that that is entirely correct. I presume that the Attorney General could be appointed well in advance of many of the functions in the Bill being devolved to the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly. It could, indeed, be appropriate for the Attorney General to be in place at the very beginning of this process, before many of the functions have been devolved under the powers that the Government are taking. This may be a matter more appropriate for the Minister to respond to, but if the hon. Lady can assist the understanding of the House, it would be helpful.