The parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Home Office, Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Conservative), opened the debate, saying: ‘It is important that we remember why we are here today: the tragic events of 15 April 1989 resulted in the deaths of 96 innocent men, women, and children - 96 lives lost, and 700 people injured, many seriously. For those who survived, and those whose family members did not come home that day, the events that unfolded at Hillsborough changed their lives forever.’
He continued: ‘The bill before the House today is essential finally to achieve justice for the 96 innocent men, women and children who died as a result of the Hillsborough disaster. The bill is narrow in scope, focusing on two powers that the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) needs to fulfil its obligations relating to Hillsborough. Rightly, it does not stray into the territory of wider reform of the IPCC. That would not be appropriate for a fast-track bill. This short bill provides the IPCC with the tools that it needs and marks one step further along the road to justice for the victims of Hillsborough.’
Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour), followed, saying: ‘We have this bill before us today - and yesterday we had the welcome announcement from the attorney-general on the inquest verdicts - because of the tenacity, dedication and faith of the families and those who supported them that truth will out. That quest for the truth and justice has been hard fought - it is of deep regret that it has been so hard fought. Too many barriers, lies and obstructions have been placed in the way of the truth. We support and welcome the bill. It is not the end of the process but part of it.’
Baroness Hamwee (Liberal Democrat), then spoke of her support for the bill, saying: ‘Like others, I am cautious about fast-track legislation but to delay the Hillsborough investigation even further or not to give the investigators the tools that they identified are required would not be right. I am prepared to trade extended parliamentary scrutiny of the bill for scrutiny of the event. But having fast-tracked it, there is no excuse for not moving forward with the investigation with speed and determination. I hope that the IPCC will emulate the panel and work across agencies, individuals and issues in a coordinated fashion.’
The bill has now been passed onto the House of Commons for its consideration.
About the Police (Complaints and Conduct) Bill
This bill will make two changes to the powers of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
These powers are designed to enable the IPCC to investigate allegations against the police in relation to the Hillsborough disaster.
The first will be to require a serving police officer to attend an interview as a witness. Currently officers can only be required to attend if they themselves are the subject of a criminal or misconduct investigation. This new power will be introduced through regulations.
The second new power will be to set aside in ‘exceptional circumstances’, the relevant articles of the Transitional Provisions Order - which set out that certain old cases could not be investigated under the new framework when the IPCC took over from the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) - so that the IPCC could investigate certain old cases where the PCA had already been involved.