HC Deb 29 June 1982 vol 26 cc270-1W
Mr. Edward Gardner

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are his proposals for legislation on part I of the report of the Royal Commission on criminal procedure.

Mr. Whitelaw

As I said in the House on 25 March—[Vol. 20, c. 11181—Parliament has a duty to ensure both that the police are provided with the legal powers they need and that those powers are accompanied by due safeguards for the citizen. Last year I produced a consultative memorandum on the Royal Commission's report generally, and as a result of considering the response I seek to carry the process of consultation further by preparing, as recommended by the Royal Commission, two draft codes of practice with a view to legislation. The first deals with the questioning of persons suspected of crime and their treatment if in police custody, and would supersede the Judges' Rules; and the second with identification parades and other identification procedures. We have placed copies in the Library and will be sending others to the same wide range of bodies who received the consultative memorandum last year. In addition, copies will be available on request from Room 528, Home Office, 50 Queen Anne's Gate, London SW1H 9AT.

The legislation I intend, subject to the availability of resources, to bring before the House would be accompanied by draft codes of practice, revised as necessary in the light of the consultations, so that Parliament may be aware of the duties I would propose to lay on the police in consequence of the legislation.

I hope that these draft codes will assist the process of discussion as well as emphasise the extent to which the Government are committed to striking a balance between the interests of society in bringing offenders to justice and the rights of individuals suspected of crime. I hope also that the steps I have in mind will be regarded as being for the convenience of the House. I am above all anxious that there should be a fully informed public debate on these difficult issues and that, as a result, the House will feel the more prepared to scrutinise my proposals when I am able to bring them before it.