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However, it is right to have some restrictions. It is fair that the commission should give 14 days notice of its intention to enter places of detention. It is also right to ensure that evidence cannot be compelled if it compromises national security. That is not peculiar to Northern Ireland. The same provision is in the Equality Act 2006 and applies throughout the rest of the United Kingdom.
The hon. Member for Montgomeryshire and my hon. Friend the Member for Foyle mentioned the start date for the commissions new powers. As they said, that will be 1 January 2008. There is an argument about whether the powers should be retrospective or forward looking. In my relatively new role in the Northern Ireland Office, I have been struck by just how many of the oversight arrangements are focused on the past. It is important that the commission has powers that focus on the future, so that it takes us forward, deals with the issues as of today and tomorrow, and ensures that we have the right conditions in our society. The measures are entirely defendable and should come into effect after 1 January 2008.
Mark Durkan: It is one thing for the Minister to say that the matters to be investigated by the commission should only be those that occur after 1 January 2008I disagree with him, but accept why he says thatbut why should the commission, in the course of investigating such a matter, be precluded from getting material from before 1 January 2008 which may have had an influence on what happened after that date?
Paul Goggins: I am sure that my hon. Friend will acknowledge that a range of other oversight bodies can obtain that information if inquiries lead in that direction. In this case, it is important that the commission faces forward. Perhaps hon. Members should evaluate its contribution in a different way. It dealt with 920 cases last year. It is a busy organisation. It is doing a good job and should be supported in its work to ensure that peoples human rights are adhered to.
Major changes are taking place to Army and police powers in Northern Ireland. We are repealing part VII of the Terrorism Act 2000 from next July. As was made clear, many of the provisions of part VII have been removed. Only those that are essential for security in Northern Ireland are included in the Bill.
Alongside the changes in legislation, the changes to the presence of the Army are profound. As of the summer of next year, the Army will no longer be deployed in Northern Ireland. There will be a garrison force, but it will be there just as other troops are based in north Yorkshire or any other part of the United Kingdom. That will be its home and it will be out on operations throughout the world along with the rest of its colleagues in the British Army.
These are big changes. Again, we have to see the optimistic side of that, but we must also have regard to the risks that remain. The minimal powers in the Bill enable us to do that. In particular, they allow us to deal with public disorder. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State mentioned the problems of Whiterock. In a sense, that is our benchmark for the
measures that we are introducing to deal with that level of paramilitary-inspired disorder. The police and the Army must be able to deal with that. The Army clearly has special expertise when it comes to explosives, and we need provisions for that purpose as well.
The Army needs to be there to support the police, as it would in the event of serious disorder anywhere in Great Britain. In particular, it is needed to manage parades. I gave the example of Whiterock. We have had an extremely good year, the most peaceful that many can remember, but none of us should think that one year means there will never be a challenge in the future. We must be prepared to ensure that we can always maintain order and make certain that people are secure in their own communities. It is also important for the Army and police to have powers to search for weapons, deal with bomb threats and cordon off roads if such action is necessary. These are not powers that we hope to see used more and more, but they are powers that will be required for the foreseeable future.
Let me reassure my right hon. Friend the Member for Torfaen about another issue that he raised. He asked how we would review the powers for the Army and the police, which was a fair question. As he will have noted, there is provision for a review and a report to the Secretary of State so that we can look carefully at how the legislation is working. That will help the Secretary of State to decide whether to remove powers if they are no longer needed, which clause 40 allows him to do. The review will also deal with any military complaints. I think that there were only six last year, but it is important for someone to be able to deal with such complaints if necessary, and the same person will perform both those functions.
My hon. Friend the Member for Foyle took us down the route of national securityas I thought he might, although very little in the Bill pertains to it. I do not want to dwell on the subject for too long, but it would be wrong if I did not respond to some of what my hon. Friend said.
There is no massive new role for MI5 in Northern Ireland. If those were not the words my hon. Friend used, that was certainly the impression conveyed in his speech. Accountability is changing, however. I know that my hon. Friend disagrees with the way in which it is changing, but we think it is changing in the right way, to ensure that national security in Northern Ireland is on the same footing as national security in every other part of the United Kingdom.
Let me make three points. First, all police officers, wherever they are basedand whether they are working on the streets of Belfast or any other part of Northern Ireland, or working with the Security Service in Northern Irelandhave all the accountability that any police officer has. They are of course accountable to the Chief Constable, and also to the police ombudsman. Nothing, but nothing, will change that. It is important for the people of Northern Ireland to understand that the provisions we have set down for transparency and accountability are not diminished one bit by the changes in primacy.
Secondly, the Chief Constable and the ombudsman are in the process of agreeing protocols with the Security Service so that all those organisations know precisely where they stand when it comes to dealing with any investigations or information. That, too, should offer reassurance. It is not true to say that the Security Service has no routes to accountability: the Investigatory Powers Tribunal and the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee are just two of the bodies that can provide accountability.
My hon. Friend the Member for Foyle may want to intervene again briefly in a second. First, let me say that there will be no force within a force. Anyone who claims otherwise is not really taking cognisance of the measures that we have provided to ensure proper accountability. Equally, there can be no open access to security intelligence for anyone who fancies taking a look. We must protect the people of Northern Ireland and make certain that they are secure, and some of the information involved needs to remain secret, albeit with the accountability that I have mentioned.
Mark Durkan: The Minister must recognise that the ombudsman is currently able to investigate issues that touch on national security, because the Police Service of Northern Ireland is in the lead on that at present. That will not be the case after the Government get their way in respect of the changes. In relation to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal which the Minister mentioned, how many complaints have there been to it since the tribunal was set up, and how many of them have been upheld?
Paul Goggins: I will be very happy to write to the hon. Gentleman about his more detailed second question. On his first question, all the accountabilities that exist in respect of the police in Northern Ireland remain regardless of whether the police officer is working with the Security Service. If they are working with the security services, that fact changes nothing in terms of accountability.
I wish to say a few things about the measures in the Bill for the greater regulation of the private security industry. That has been recommended by the Independent Monitoring Commission and it is an important part of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee report on organised crime. It is also clear to me from my meetings and discussions with members of the private security industry in Northern Ireland that they would also welcome that. We must tackle head-on matters such as organised crime and extortion because otherwise they will have a tendency to undermine communities in Northern Ireland and we cannot allow that to happen, not least because of the connections with paramilitary activity.
In essence, what the Bill provides is a switch from the present arrangements, whereby individual companies are offered a licence by the Secretary of State unless he has evidence to suggest that they are involved in paramilitary activity, to one in which individual workers will have to have their own licence. Such licences will be given only where people have undergone appropriate levels of training and criminal record checks have been done on them.
We cannot move immediately to that system of individual licensing, which is why we have some
intermediate arrangements. We intend to extend the current arrangements so that the Secretary of State will still give licences to individual companies, but we are widening the criteria so that he can deny them a licence or place conditions on them not only if he suspects that they are involved in paramilitary activity, but if he believes that they are involved in any form of criminality.
In due course, we will move to a situation where the Security Industry Authority, which already operates in England and Wales, will operate from next door in Scotland, too, and we hope that soon after it will operate in Northern Ireland. We want to move to an arrangement in which it oversees the regulation and licensing of the private security industry there. That will be very welcome. It will add enormously to security, and it will produce more opportunities for the private security industry in Northern Ireland which will be welcome, too. Most importantly, it will help us to drive out criminality from within the communities of Northern Ireland.
This has been an important debate. Policing and justice is, and will remain, the key issue in Northern Ireland. All parties must support policing and the rule of law and every citizen should play their part by reporting crime to the police. But the police and the justice system still need to function in face of the threats that remain. The powers that we are giving in this Bill will enable the forces of law and order to do that. I commend the Bill to the House.
That the following provisions shall apply to the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill:
1. The Bill shall be committed to a Public Bill Committee.
Proceedings in Public Bill Committee
2. Proceedings in the Public Bill Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on Thursday 25th January 2007.
3. The Public Bill Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day on which it meets.
Consideration and Third Reading
4. Proceedings on consideration shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour before the moment of interruption on the day on which those proceedings are commenced.
5. Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption on that day.
6. Standing Order No. 83B (Programming committees) shall not apply to proceedings on consideration and Third Reading.
7. Any other proceedings on the Bill (including any proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments or on any further messages from the Lords) may be programmed. [Mr. Cawsey.]
That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of
(1) expenditure of the Secretary of State in connection with the Act, and
(2) any increase attributable to the Act in sums payable out of money provided by Parliament under another enactment [Mr. Cawsey.]
That the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006 (S.I., 2006, No. 439) be referred to a Delegated Legislation Committee. [Mr. Cawsey.]
Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim) (DUP): The people of Northern Ireland will be amazed that such important legislation, affecting especially the religious people of Northern Ireland, is going through the House in this way. We will vote against it.
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