HC Deb 26 November 2001 vol 375 cc765-6

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Jane Kennedy)

I want briefly to put it on record that the Government are taking this valuable opportunity to extend to Northern Ireland powers to stop and search in anticipation of violence, as identified in this clause and clause 96, making provision for Northern Ireland that is comparable to that made in section 60A of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 and providing that the Secretary of State may make regulations to govern the retention and disposal of anything seized under clauses 94 and 95, such as knives or other offensive weapons. The clause extends those provisions to Northern Ireland.

I hope that clauses 95 and 96 will be welcomed in all parts of the House. As I said, the measures will obviously benefit Northern Ireland and be welcomed there.

Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

I shall make an even briefer comment. I must say that the Minister has yet again given the game away. The phrase "the Government have taken the opportunity" is the story of the Bill from start to finish. Whatever arguments she can adduce in favour of extending the powers to Northern Ireland, that extension does not appear to be the result of the state of emergency in a Province where extensive terrorist legislation is already on the books.

Jane Kennedy

Simply to respond quickly to that point, Mr. Haselhurst—[HON. MEMBERS: "Sir Alan."] I beg your pardon, Sir Alan. The clause takes to Northern Ireland the powers regarding knives that apply elsewhere in England and Wales. It is entirely appropriate for those powers to be available to the police in Northern Ireland. Knives were used with devastating effect on 11 September and it is nonsensical to suggest that the police in Northern Ireland should not have the powers available to them.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 95 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 96 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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