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Lord Cope of Berkeley: The amendment refers to the qualifications for appointment prescribed in regulations made under Section 25 or 26 of the 1998 Act. Will the Minister remind me of the nationality requirements in that regard? The noble and learned Lord referred to members of the Garda, who presumably hold substantially the nationality of the Irish Republic rather than British or British Commonwealth. I shall be grateful to know.

I do not suggest that no officers from the republic who are not British or British Commonwealth citizens should be recruited but I should like to know the position.

Viscount Brookeborough: Perhaps the Minister will clarify one point in subsection (4)(a) of the amendment. It refers to those who,


Does that refer to those who are not service in any police force or simply the police force of Northern Ireland?

Baroness Harris of Richmond: This is a sensible amendment. It reflects the realities of the 21st century. I am a member of the Home Office working group on leadership in the police. I am convinced that we must have a more open and accessible approach to identifying and selecting those appointed to senior positions. This is a provision which the remainder of the UK will envy.

Lord Hylton: I have in the past corresponded with various Ministers on the question of widening the pool of possible applicants for the Police Service in

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Northern Ireland. It would be helpful if one did not exclude applicants from any police force in the English speaking world.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: I should be grateful if the Minister could comment--it may not be under this amendment although this seems the right place--on the balance of experience in the police. I think, for example, of the current situation in our Army, which is losing a great many experienced people. It is true that we are also recruiting, but those recruits have to be trained. They have to learn and gain a considerable amount of experience to be valuable.

There is a parallel if a great many current senior officers leave the police service. Even if, by a miracle, we gain a number of Catholic and nationalist recruits, they will be wholly inexperienced. It will be at least five years, maybe more, before they gain sufficient experience even to be useful police officers. I should like to know whether there is some arrangement to leave the RUC over-strength for a while to retain sufficient experienced people to train the inexperienced intake.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The nationality requirements are set out in draft regulations, which have been made available. Schedule 1 to Regulation 10 says that to be eligible for appointment as a constable, a candidate must be a British citizen or a Commonwealth citizen, or other than a British citizen, or a citizen of the Irish Republic, in which case he must satisfy one of the following conditions: at least one of his parents is, or was at death, a Commonwealth citizen or a citizen of the Irish Republic; or he has resided in a country or territory within the Commonwealth or the Irish Republic; or he has been employed elsewhere in the service of the Crown. The regulations go into further detail that I shall not read. If such a person is not qualified under those provisions, he must satisfy the Chief Constable that he is so closely connected with a country or territory within the Commonwealth by ancestry, upbringing or residence or by reason of national service that an exception may properly be made in his favour.

The noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth, asked about the balance of experience. We are dealing with people who enter laterally. They will have experience in another police force. I do not know what the noble Baroness was getting at when she suggested that someone who had not been in Northern Ireland would still need more experience. As I have already said, and as the Patten report recommended, recruitment must be on open competition and merit. Standards will be maintained. We are talking about encouragement, not about standards being dropped in any way.

The answer that I have written down from the box to the question asked by the noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, is "just the police in Northern Ireland". I hope that that is a satisfactory answer.

I think that that answers all the questions.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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Clause 45 [Discrimination in appointments]:

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendment No. 154.


    Page 22, line 22, at end insert--


("( ) No order may be made under subsection (2) as a result of subsection (3)(b) which has the effect, as respects an occasion specified in the order, of requiring more than three-quarters of the persons appointed on that occasion to be--
(a) the persons who are treated as Roman Catholic; or
(b) the persons who are not so treated.").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: I should like some clarification. Will the ethnic communities come under paragraph (b)? They may be a small percentage in Northern Ireland, but they are expanding rapidly and are very sensitive, particularly in the aftermath of the Macpherson report.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I shall certainly bear in mind what the noble Lord has said.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 155 and 156 not moved.]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton moved Amendments Nos. 157 and 158.


    Page 23, line 11, leave out ("police reserve") and insert ("Police Service of Northern Ireland Reserve").


    Page 23, line 15, leave out from beginning to end of line 16.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

On Question, Whether Clause 45, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Rogan: Article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty, which was signed on 2nd October 1997, came into force on 1st May 1999. That article empowered the Council of Ministers, acting unanimously, to,


    "take appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation".

The European Commission published two draft directives on 25th November 1999. The directives are directly effective in the member states and are due to be implemented by 31st December 2002. The draft directives were aimed at implementing Article 13 of the Amsterdam Treaty. When in force from 31st December 2002, they could--and, indeed, I believe will--make 50:50 recruitment illegal. Indeed, 50/50 is already illegal for men/women under European law, based on the pool system that the Government are seeking to use. It is not possible to derogate from a directive. They will be directly effective.

The British and Irish Governments have already agreed to the directives in principle. In a joint statement at the Lisbon Special European Council of 23rd and 24th March, the United Kingdom and Irish Governments urged the member states to,


    "make early progress on the Commission's Article 13 anti-discrimination proposals".

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Therefore, they have endorsed the draft directives before they have been formally approved.

I wish to ask the Minister, an eminent Queen's Counsel who understands the effects of European law in this country, about a legal point that has been raised in another place. The legal issue is the relationship between the 50:50 recruitment proposal in Clause 44 and the EC directive, which establishes a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation approved by the Council last week. The directive must be implemented in the United Kingdom by 31st December 2002.

Will a young Catholic or Protestant man or woman who is admitted to "Patten's pool" on merit but then not subsequently recruited into the police have a remedy, probably in damages, for discrimination on the ground of religious belief in the Northern Ireland courts using that EC directive?

Before the Minister replies, perhaps I may draw his attention to a relevant parliamentary precedent from this Government's first year. The late Donald Dewar favoured reverse discrimination in favour of women for the first Scottish Parliament, contrary to United Kingdom sex discrimination law. That issue was discussed in a Cabinet committee and a minute was sent to the Prime Minister. The source for this internal government debate is the Guardian newspaper of 3rd March 1998. This Labour Government had taken legal advice from another eminent Queen's Counsel, Mr Patrick Elias. The four government law officers concurred with his opinion to the effect that reverse discrimination to increase the number of women in the first Scottish Parliament was contrary to the men and women anti-discrimination directive.

The only difference between the position in 1998 and that of today is that the directive had entered into force. Therefore, will the Minister tell the Committee whether the 50:50 proposal will be contrary to European law from 1st January 2003?

In 1998, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor wrote to the Prime Minister that,


    "any Minister bringing forward or accepting an amendment would not be able to assure the house that it was ECJ proof. This would put him in an impossible position and create handling difficulties".

A member of that Cabinet Committee was Peter Mandelson, now Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

By way of conclusion, I ask the Minister whether that 50:50 proposal has been ECJ-proofed? Have the Government taken advice on what the legal position in Northern Ireland will be after 31st December 2002?

Midnight

Lord Glentoran: I want to make clear a couple of points from this side of the Committee about which I may have muddied the waters earlier.

First, on this side of the Committee, we accept totally the urgent need for recruitment of more Catholics to come forward in proportion with the population. We support almost all that the Government are doing in this Bill and elsewhere to

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make that recruitment happen. We should love dearly to see at least 50 per cent, 48 per cent, or whatever the proportion may be, of the police force to be members of the Roman Catholic or nationalist communities.

However, we do not believe that the 50:50 quota system is the right way forward. We believe that there should be a form of targeting and that there should be serious recruitment provided that the environment exists for it. We have already discussed why we do not have 50:50 or 48:52 or whatever the numbers need to be.

We seriously support and understand the need for equalising members of the police force. We want that to happen. But we do not support the straight 50:50 proposal.


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