HL Deb 16 December 2002 vol 642 cc510-2

6.37 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 27th November be approved.

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, as a result of much debate on the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002, I said that a review was being undertaken to consult with a wide range of organisations in Northern Ireland about their inclusion within the remit of the Criminal Justice Inspectorate. I also promised to write to all noble Lords about the progress of those consultations. I fulfilled that promise on 24th October.

Twenty organisations were involved in the consultation process. I hope that your Lordships will feel that we have tabled the amendment order at the earliest reasonable opportunity. We have done so hoping to create a settled list of agencies that come within the remit.

Following the consultation process, we have decided to add an additional eight organisations, which are listed in the order. Some of them do not immediately seem to have obvious links to the criminal justice system, but the underlying and, I hope, unifying rationale for their inclusion is that they all exercise a role in the investigative and prosecutorial processes. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 27th November be approved. —(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

Lord Glentoran

My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord for moving the order tonight. It addresses a part of the Criminal Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002 that one might called unfinished business. I thank the noble and learned Lord and the Northern Ireland Office for the courtesy that they have shown in keeping me—and, I am sure, other Members of your Lordships' House—in touch with their thinking and the consultation process.

I have no reason to believe—if I did, I would not necessarily wish to air it—that there is any great dissension about the organisations included in the Bill by the order. I support the order.

Lord Smith of Clifton

My Lords, I, too, thank the noble and learned Lord and the Northern Ireland Office for keeping us informed, and I welcome the eight additions.

I have one query. Were the Financial Services Authority and the Inland Revenue consulted about being included? If they were, what were their responses?

Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, I welcome the order. It has come to the House somewhat belatedly. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Privy Seal will recall my criticism that, whereas ordinary individuals such as myself or members of the police are meant to change and agree to things with huge expedition, statutory agencies appear to be able to adopt a tardiness that puzzles me. I cannot understand why it took some of the bodies that are listed so long to acquiesce to the idea of having a justice inspector.

I speak not out of any spite, because I have considerable regard for the huge ability of the Police Ombudsman. However, I believe that it is important that someone occupying as sensitive a position as the Police Ombudsman—she had some initial difficulties in that post—should not be without oversight and should not have a free hand. In that respect. I welcome the order.

Lord Williams of Mostyn

My Lords, I shall answer the specific questions asked by the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Clifton. The FSA and the Inland Revenue were consulted, as were the Census Office, Customs and Excise, the Electoral Office, the Northern Ireland Court Service and the Serious Fraud Office. Representations were made, and we considered them carefully, before coming to the conclusions that I outlined and which appear in the order.

On Question, Motion agreed to.