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Northern Ireland Bill: Policing and Justice

4th March 2009

During several interventions in the debate, Jonathan Djanogly supports a proposal for the Attorney-General for Northern Ireland to be appointed by the Lord Chief Justice on the advice of the Judicial Appointments Commission and not by politicians.

Mr. Djanogly

: I thank my hon. Friend. Does he agree that the model being adopted is more or less the same as the one that exists in the Republic of Ireland? The model that he is talking about is more like the English one.

Mr. Robertson rose-

Mr. Woodward rose-

The Chairman: Order. I have to maintain some semblance of order here. The hon. Member for Tewkesbury (Mr. Robertson) was taking an intervention from the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Djanogly), so I think that he has to be allowed to respond to that before he can take any further interventions.

Mr. Robertson: I can respond very simply to my hon. Friend the Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Djanogly). We have of course discussed the matter, and I agree entirely with him.


In reponse to concerns of professional conflict from the Attorney-General being appointed by the Lord Chief Justice...
Mr. Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon) (Con): Does the hon. Gentleman not accept that there are conventions that deal with such conflicts?

Mr. Robinson: That would mean removing the Lord Chief Justice, the most senior Law Officer, from the most important cases; no doubt, those being taken in defence of the Government. That would not be a wise move.


Mr. Djanogly: The Minister keeps referring to the review. Although we appreciate that there has been a review and although, in contrast to what the Secretary of State said, we did read it, does the Minister not appreciate that we are still entitled to debate the issue? The Minister speaks as if we are not allowed to.

Paul Goggins: Any party is, of course, entitled to raise debate in this place; that is what this place is about. However, we also have to respect and recognise that in the process of improvement and change towards peace and progress in Northern Ireland, certain key staging posts have been reached. A very important staging post was the criminal justice review in 2000 and the subsequent legislation that went through the House. We have to respect that. Without that settlement, much development of the criminal justice process in Northern Ireland that has happened since would not have happened.


Mr. Djanogly: I am pleased that the Minister is admitting that we will now be pulling away from the system that exists in this country, which did not seem to come across in his earlier remarks, but who is the DPP going to answer to?

Paul Goggins: The DPP will be answerable to the Assembly for the use of resources and the administration of its office-that is very clear-but not for individual prosecution decisions, which are entirely for the independent DPP. It is important at the point of devolution that that is made absolutely clear and enshrined in the institutions.

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