International Criminal Court Bill [Lords]

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Mr. Garnier: We all know about article 120, and several members of the Committee referred to it earlier. Why did those other countries produce such declarations if they are of no effect?

Mr. Battle: Again, I am being asked to answer for the statements of other countries. I can answer only for our intentions, and I could not have made it clearer that it is not the practice of the current Government, nor has it been the practice of previous Governments, to make subject to prior parliamentary approval declarations that we intend to make on ratification of international treaties. What the new clause asks of us has never before been required of a Government. Declarations to previous treaties have not been subject to that procedure, including the treaties on which the crimes under the statute are based, such as the Geneva convention, the additional protocols and the convention on the safety of United Nations and associated personnel. Opposition Members have signed up in the past to the provisions that we are asking them to sign up to now without seeking prior parliamentary approval, and it is not necessary that they do so now.

As for new clause 7 and declarations, my noble Friend Baroness Scotland said in the other place that the Government would be happy to keep the Opposition in touch with our thinking. That position remains the same. We are listening, but we do not see the need to deal with the matter in the Bill. We shall return to it at the appropriate time.

We and numerous other countries spent years negotiating the Rome statute, the rules of procedure and evidence and other documents to give the necessary safeguards to ensure that the court will fulfil its mandate in a professional, independent and impartial manner. We supported the court on that basis. The House welcomed the principle in July 1998 and we debated it again in October 1999 and on Second Reading. Rather than question whether we want to ratify it at all, as the right hon. Member for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross said, the new clauses should be withdrawn. They are unnecessary and could weaken the Bill substantially. Given that, in the other place, assent has been given to our proposals rather than the proposals in new clause 1, and given that, in new clause 7, Opposition Members have assented to exactly the provisions that were inserted in the Bill previously, I see no reason for them to change their approach now.

Mrs. Gillan: We have had a good debate on the new clauses. I do not intend to detain the Committee with a lengthy response to the Minister's comments. I can see the relief on the faces of members of the Committee.

We have attached a great deal of importance to new clauses 1 and 5, and we do not feel that either is overly ambitious. They constitute simple requests to put safeguards in the Bill. In reference to the unlikely but possible event of a junior person coming before the International Criminal Court, the much-quoted Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, in his evidence to the Select Committee, said:

    ``If there are ways which guaranteed that the word ``unlikely'' could be removed, that would be more comforting.''

All that we have sought to do is to provide that comfort.

I am sad that the Minister is not able to accept the new clause. We have flagged up our concerns throughout the proceedings and I am not satisfied by what the Minister has said. To indicate the strength of feeling, especially on new clauses 1 and 5, I want to put the new clause to a vote.

Motion made, and Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 5, Noes 12.

Division No. 3]

AYES
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Day, Mr. Stephen
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Howarth, Mr. Gerald

NOES
Battle, Mr. John
Browne, Mr. Desmond
Cranston, Mr. Ross
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Gapes, Mr. Mike
King, Ms Oona
Lammy, Mr. David
Maclennan, Mr. Robert
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Worthington, Mr. Tony

Question accordingly negatived.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Mr. McNulty.]

Adjourned accordingly at Seven o'clock till Thursday 3 May at five minutes to Ten o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Cook, Mr. Frank (Chairman)
Battle, Mr.
Blunt, Mr.
Browne, Mr.
Cranston, Mr.
Day, Mr.
Ellman, Mrs.
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Gapes, Mr.
Garnier, Mr.
Gillan, Mrs.
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
King, Ms Oona
Lammy, Mr.
Maclennan, Mr.
McNulty, Mr.
Naysmith, Dr.
Worthington, Mr.

 
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