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Lord Williams of Mostyn: I wonder if I can help directly in response to the noble Baroness's request for clarification. These amendments are not required because under Section 35 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 the Policing Board is already responsible for the appointment and removal of senior officers in the police. The power to make the fixed-term appointments for senior officers, to which the noble Baroness refers, already belongs to the board under Section 25(6) of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998. I hope that explanation is useful. There is already statutory provision to bring about the consequences for which the noble Baroness was looking.

4 p.m.

Viscount Brookeborough: I understood the noble Baroness to be saying that she wished the board to be able to appoint people of below the level, albeit senior, of the rank to which it already appoints. I beg to disagree with her amendment on the basis that the board is responsible for appointing the very senior officers. Below that level one could consider that the appointments are operational. Speaking as an

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individual, not for the board, I believe we should not be involved in promotions and appointments down the chain of command beyond that which we already have.

Baroness Harris of Richmond: I shall clarify my point. I understand that and I am sure the board would not want to interfere with the operational requirement of the Chief Constable to make sure that he or she appointed appropriate people. We are suggesting that the board can also appoint a person of senior officer rank, who might—although not necessarily—work in support of a uniformed officer. I am speaking particularly of directors of finance or directors of personnel, for example. I have been very interested to hear the Minister's response and I beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 44 to 46 not moved.]

On Question, Whether Clause 18 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: This clause is particularly interesting. The Explanatory Notes we received are of little assistance in determining its purpose and we have to reach our own conclusions. It appears to be designed to avoid the 50:50 criterion for those brought in on secondment. The Government are unwise to want to avoid that sort of discrimination against others eligible for secondment in this area when they see it as perfectly appropriate to discriminate against others in recruiting in Northern Ireland. I use the term "others" because we can recruit 50 per cent from the Roman Catholic tradition and 50 per cent from others, who may represent a multiplicity of ethnic or religious or other groups. The difficulty is that if there was no definition of which group these people belonged to, it would ultimately be stacked up when they came to serve. We all know that that would be unavoidable. In reality, head counts would be carried out and the imbalance in terms of recruiting ordinary members of the Northern Ireland public would, over a longer period, result in discrimination. I am not sure that I have made myself very clear on that point.

However, if we seconded a number of English, Scottish and Welsh policemen and they were deemed to be "others", as inevitably they would be, then, when it came to trying to level out the recruitment figures for ordinary recruits in Northern Ireland, that would simply mean that the 50:50 criterion would last longer. I hope that I have made myself clear to the noble and learned Lord and that he will be able to give us an explanation as to how that might work, other than as I envisage.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I believe I am right in understanding that the noble Lord was speaking to Clause 18 stand part.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: Yes.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Clause 18 allows the Chief Constable the power to appoint someone to the Police Service of Northern Ireland for a fixed term of up to

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three years. The noble Lord is right: we are talking about seconding to that sometimes hard-pressed force of experienced officers from other jurisdictions—not simply from England, Scotland or Wales. We discussed this matter at Second Reading and a number of your Lordships said that it might well be helpful to have expertise from other jurisdictions.

As will be seen, the Chief Constable cannot use this power to appoint anyone as a constable or as a senior officer. The 50:50 division, which the noble Lord, Lord Maginnis, referred to, relates to the recruitment of constables. Therefore, 50:50 does not apply to this category. I repeat: 50:50 applies only to the recruitment of constables. I hope that that is the explanation which the noble Lord was looking for.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass: I am grateful. If it is as the noble and learned Lord explains it, then there is some relief. However, I imagine that, when it comes to assessing the respective strengths of the RUC in terms of Roman Catholics and others, the headcount will apply not only to constables but that it will be a headcount throughout the PSNI. Hence, if I am right—I shall accept correction if I am not—it could extend the requirement for this indiscriminatory 50:50 criterion over a much longer period.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am happy to respond. The 50:50 division applies only to recruitment at constable level. The people who come from other jurisdictions could be Buddhists or members of the Church in Wales, which has a long history of evangelical good.

Viscount Brookeborough: When people join the Police Service of Northern Ireland, that is one thing, but when they are seconded to it, they are still members of their parent organisation to which they will return. I suspect that, when one talks about total numbers in the Police Service of Northern Ireland being one balance or the other, that would not reflect those from outside the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Therefore, the clause applies to secondments and not to transferees.

Clause 18 agreed to.

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass moved Amendment No. 47:

    After Clause 18, insert the following new clause—

(1) In Part 6 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 (c. 32) for section 46 substitute—
(1) In making appointments under section 39 the Chief Constable may take such steps as he determines appropriate to encourage applications by persons currently under-represented in the police service.
(2) In making appointments to the police support staff under section 4(3) the Chief Constable (acting by virtue of subsection (5) of that section) may take such steps as he determines appropriate to encourage applications by persons currently under-represented in the police support staff.

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(3) For the purposes of this section "persons currently under-represented" means persons forming part of a social group by virtue of their sex, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation who at the time of consideration by the Chief Constable are under-represented."
(2) In Part 6 of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 (c. 32) leave out section 47."

The noble Lord said: The amendment is intended to remove discrimination from recruitment. Whatever the good intentions of Patten in suggesting a 50:50 resolution to the current imbalance which we all recognise, it is simply not working. At present there are not enough recruits becoming available from within the Roman Catholic tradition. Sadly, that worries us all. We should like to see a much higher level of application from the Roman Catholic tradition. During the Patten inquiry I was one person who suggested that. If there were adequate recruits coming forward from all traditions, particularly Roman Catholic, there would be a natural opportunity over a period to recruit on roughly a 50:50 basis. That would not be hugely out of proportion to the balance of the community overall in Northern Ireland.

That was my opinion and not one which was generally approved or sanctioned by the Ulster Unionist Party. I would need to admit to getting into some hot water for my liberalism on that point. However, I emphasise that my point was made on the basis of a large number of potential recruits coming forward from both traditions. That has not happened.

There is still a huge discrimination by Sinn Fein/IRA against members of the Roman Catholic tradition who would like to join the police. They are openly told by the leaders of Sinn Fein that the PSNI is simply the RUC as was. Hence, many of those who would like to join the RUC and who decide to pursue their policing ambitions as a career move across to this side of the water rather than run the risk of endangering their families, or of having younger brothers and sisters subjected to abuse within their own communities.

There have been a number of occasions on which constables who have joined from the Roman Catholic tradition have been specifically earmarked for attack. I believe that there is now the opportunity to make the Chief Constable more responsible for finding an informal rather than a formal way of encouraging applications from persons or groups who are currently unrepresented. There is no reason why that would not be a more successful way to proceed.

The current system highlights how many Roman Catholic recruits and how many others there are in an intake, how many are recruited and what the balance is. If one or two of the potential recruits drop out, there has to be a similar reduction on the other side. Gradually RUC numbers—sorry, PSNI; I have lived too long with the old terminology—have fallen below the level that was intended by Patten. Many of us believed that, given the huge pressures in Northern Ireland society and the predisposition for organised crime to fill the void left by terrorism, the figures envisaged by Patten were hugely over-optimistic.

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Now that has failed to be achieved, the police are over-stretched. The most awful decisions are being taken to try to make the number of police do a job that requires many more.

One of the saddest things for the community in Northern Ireland of late has been the arbitrary decision made by the new Chief Constable to disband the police band, which was made up of 31 full-time musicians. I have not often criticised the Policing Board, but on this occasion it has been far too amenable to an arbitrary decision made by the Chief Constable.

4.15 p.m.

Viscount Brookeborough: That is an operational decision of the Chief Constable on redeploying policemen. It was not and could not be taken by the board.

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