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Lord Smith of Clifton: My Lords, we welcome both orders. I endorse the Minister's observation that it is most helpful to all parties concerned, not least the police, that there will be both sound recordings and video recordings of interviews. We strongly support the orders.
Lord Fitt: My Lords, discussions took place in Northern Ireland prior to the promulgation of the code of practice and I am sure that the Government interviewed as many responsible people as possible. Were all the political parties in Northern Ireland invited to take part in those discussions? Some political parties in Northern Ireland are allegedly associated with paramilitary activities, and I do not believe that they would be at all interested in a code of practice.
Will the Minister state whether all the political parties took part in the discussions? Did it seem to him or to those involved in the discussions that the political parties were anxious to see the code brought into practice? If the Minister could tell us that some of the political parties did not want the code of practice, that would say something about Northern Ireland. It would be a serious indication of the ability of those parties still to comfort those who are engaged in paramilitary activities.
Lord Hylton: My Lords, I welcome the two codes of practice because they contain a large number of useful safeguards. It has been a long and sometimes uphill struggle to achieve both video and sound recording of interviews. That makes it all the more important that there should be no questioning of suspects and arrested persons outside the police station; for example, between the point of arrest and the police station in, say, a police or army vehicle. I would welcome reassurance on that issue.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I am grateful for the support which the codes of practice have received from around the House. They represent a significant step forward. As regards the consultation process, I stated that both codes were sent to a wide range of interested organisations. They included every single political party. I am told that the only political party which responded was Sinn Fein and, as I understand it, Sinn Fein did not object to the content of either of the codes.Finally, perhaps I may write to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, about the point which he raised.
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