Minutes of Proceedings

Session: 2012/2013

Date: 08 November 2012

Venue: Room 30

The meeting commenced at 2.04 p.m. in public session.

The Chairperson condemned the murder of Prison Officer, Mr David Black, and proposed that the Committee hold a minutes silence and suspend the meeting for fifteen minutes as a mark of respect. He also highlighted that the funeral of Corporal Channing Day was taking place and it was the 25th anniversary of the Enniskillen bombing.

Mr Alban Maginness endorsed the proposal by the Chairman and condemned the recent murder of one of his constituents, Mr Danny McKay, by suspected dissident elements.

Mr Raymond McCartney, on behalf of all the Sinn Féin Committee Members, endorsed the proposal.

Mr Stewart Dickson also endorsed the proposal.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to hold a minutes silence and suspend the meeting for fifteen minutes.

The meeting was suspended at 2.09p.m.

The meeting resumed in public session at 2.26p.m.

2.26p.m. The Chairman left the meeting and the Deputy Chairman took the Chair.

1. Apologies

Apologies are detailed above.

2. Draft minutes of the meeting held on 25 October 2012

The Committee approved the draft minutes of the meeting held on 25 October 2012.

3. Update on engagement with the Attorney General’s Office and advice on support for the initial meeting with the Marie Stopes Clinic and a possible Inquiry

The Deputy Chairperson advised Members that, given the unavoidable absence of the Chairman, the update on the engagement with the Attorney General’s office and advice and support for the initial meeting with the Marie Stopes Clinic would be deferred until next week’s meeting.

The Deputy Chairman, on behalf of the Committee, offered congratulations and best wishes to the Chairman and his wife on the birth of their baby daughter.

4. Matters Arising

i. The Committee noted a response from the Marie Stopes Clinic to the Committee’s request for representatives to attend a Committee meeting to outline how the Clinic will comply with the criminal law in relation to abortion in Northern Ireland.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to give further consideration to the matter at next week’s meeting.

ii. The Committee noted correspondence from Donaghy Carey Solicitors who act for Precious Life.

iii. The Committee noted that the Department had postponed the written briefing on the Compensation Agency Review Update that had been scheduled for today’s meeting. The briefing would be rescheduled in due course.

5. Review of the Magistrates’ Courts and County Court Appeals (Criminal Legal Aid) (Costs) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2009 - Draft consultation paper

Robert Crawford Deputy Director, Public Legal Services Division, and John Halliday and Jim Millar, Public Legal Services Division, Department of Justice, joined the meeting at 2.33 p.m.

Mr Crawford outlined the preliminary findings of the review and the options outlined in the draft consultation document.

A detailed question and answer session followed covering issues including: the cost differences between the three options identified; the level of unmeritorious bail applications, whether there is a right of appeal and the likely implication of the proposal to withold payment of fees in certain cases; the level of engagement/consultation with the legal profession in respect of the options; the level of real savings for each option; the statutory status of the review; and, the reasons behind the option to remove provisions for Guilty Plea 2 fees and Very High Cost Cases and the likely reduction in legal aid expenditure in Magistrates’ Courts.

The Chairman thanked the officials for the briefing and they left the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that it was content for the draft consultation document to issue and to consider the matter further when the results of the consultation became available.

6. S.R. 2012/376 The Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 (Codes of Practice) (Revision of Codes C, E, F and H) Order 2012 

The Committee considered Statutory Rule 2012 No.376 which would bring into operation revised PACE Codes C, E, F and H.

Agreed: The Committee for Justice considered Statutory Rule 2012 No.376 The Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 (Codes of Practice) (Revision of Codes C, E , F and H) Order 2012 and has no objection to the rule.

7. Clause by Clause Consideration – Criminal Justice Bill

Gareth Johnston, Deputy Director, and Amanda Patterson, Criminal Justice Policy and Legislation Division, Department of Justice, joined the meeting at 3.05p.m.

The Committee commenced consideration of the evidence received in relation to clauses 1 to 4 and schedule 1 of the Criminal Justice Bill relating to sex offenders and sought clarification/further information on a range of issues from the departmental officials.

The officials outlined a proposal to bring forward an additional clause regarding the notification requirements for sex offenders who travel within the United Kingdom and a proposed amendment to clause 3 relating to offences committed in an EEA State other than the United Kingdom.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked the officials for their attendance. Ms Patterson remained at the table and Mr Johnston left the meeting.

3.23p.m. Mr Patsy McGlone left the meeting.

3.36p.m. Mr Tom Elliott joined the meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a copy of the Department’s response in relation to an issue raised regarding the grounds which the Chief Constable must consider when determining an application to review an indefinite notification requirement to Disability Action for comment.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to give further consideration to the proposal to introduce an additional clause regarding the notification requirements for sex offenders who travel within the United Kingdom when the Department provided the wording of the clause.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to give further consideration to the proposed amendment to clause 3 relating to offences committed in an EEA State other than the United Kingdom when the Department provided the wording of the amendment.

Simon Rogers, Deputy Director, and Debbie Pritchard, Protection and Organised Crime Division, Department of Justice, joined the meeting at 3.41p.m.

The Committee commenced consideration of the evidence received in relation to clauses 5 and 6 of the Criminal Justice Bill relating to human trafficking and sought clarification/further information on a range of issues from the departmental officials.

The officials indicated that consideration and consultation was taking place regarding the implications of making human trafficking offences triable on indictment only and further information would be provided to the Committee on this issue.

The officials agreed to provide further information on a number of issues.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that Members should indicate at the next meeting if there were particular issues relating to human trafficking that they wished to discuss further.

The briefing was recorded by Hansard.

The Chairman thanked the officials for their attendance and they left the meeting.

8. Correspondence

i. The Committee considered correspondence from the Minister of Justice outlining that he was not minded to increase the timescale within which an application to the court of appeal must be made for a sentence that was unduly lenient. The Committee noted the correspondence and indicated that it may wish to give further consideration to this matter.

ii. The Committee considered a response from the Department of Justice to issues raised by AdviceNI in relation to the SL1 Insolvency Rules (Northern Ireland) 2012.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the response to the Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment for information.

iii. The Committee considered correspondence from the Department of Justice providing a breakdown of costs that would have been incurred for the R v Haddock and others case if it had been assessed and paid under the new legal aid costing regime. Members noted that the fees would have been 46% less under the new scheme.

iv. The Committee considered correspondence from the Department of Justice on the likely implications for the funding of community based programmes in interface areas arising from the Department of Education’s Priorities for Youth Consultation.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the correspondence to the Committee for Education for information.

v. The Committee considered correspondence from the Committee for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister regarding the European Court of Justice’s ruling in case C-236/09 (Test Achats) concerning Gender Neutral Insurance Benefits and Premiums.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward the correspondence to the Department of Justice for a response on the possible consequences of the ruling for road safety.

vi. The Committee noted correspondence from Assistant Chief Constable, George Hamilton, PSNI, providing an update on progress to inform victims’ families and the steps being taken to implement the ten recommendations made by the ACPO Human Tissue Audit in relation to the retention of human tissue samples.

vii. The Committee considered correspondence from the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union, Sub-Committee E (Justice, Institutions and Consumer Protection) and Sub Committee F (Home Affairs, Health and Education) regarding its joint inquiry into the UK’s 2014 Opt-out Decision (Protocol 36) and its implications for the United Kingdom.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to refer the correspondence to the Department of Justice for a response on the issues raised from a Northern Ireland perspective, as part of the update it was due to provide to the Committee on the UK’S 2014 Opt-out Decision.

viii. The Committee noted correspondence from the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland in response to the Committee’s request that he consider whether all appropriate action had been taken in the case of Mr W McMaster. The Committee also noted that further correspondence had been received from Mr McMaster.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to forward a copy of the correspondence to Mr McMaster for information and indicate that, in referring the matter to the Police Ombudsman to review, it had taken all the action it could given its strategic role in relation to justice related matters.

ix. The Committee considered correspondence from a Mr Patrick McCourt regarding his concerns in relation to the Compensation Act 1988.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to refer the correspondence to the Department of Justice for a response on the issues raised in relation to the Compensation Act 1988 and convictions quashed on appeal.

x. The Committee  noted an invitation from the European Parliament to an all-day event on the future of EU Funding in Northern Ireland, on Friday 16 November 2012 in Belfast.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that Members would contact the Committee Clerk if   they wished to attend the event.

xi. The Committee noted correspondence from Mindwise providing a copy of its Annual Report 2011-12 on the Northern Ireland Appropriate Adult Scheme.

xii. The Committee noted an invitation from the Committee for Employment and Learning to a presentation by Dr Steve Myers from the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) on 13 November 2012 in Parliament Buildings.

Agreed: The Committee agreed that Members would contact the Committee Clerk if   they wished to attend the event.

9. Chairman’s Business

i. The Deputy Chairman informed Members that the Committee had received an invitation to a knowledge exchange seminar entitled “Public Attitudes to Peace Walls” on Thursday 29 November 2012 and highlighted that unfortunately the seminar clashed with the Committee’s regular weekly meeting.

Agreed: The Committee agreed to request a copy of the research that would be discussed at the seminar.

ii. The Committee considered the work programme for the meeting on 15 November 2012.

Agreed: Given the volume of work scheduled for the meeting on 15 November, the Committee agreed to defer the departmental oral briefing on the consultation responses on the future regulation of the private security industry until a later date.

10. Any other business

None.

11. Date and time of next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 15 November 2012 at 2.00 p.m. in Room 30, Parliament Buildings.

4.22 p.m. The meeting was adjourned.

Mr Paul Givan MLA
Chairman, Committee for Justice
15 November 2012

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