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8.45 p.m.

Lord Henley: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor for having gone just a little way towards meeting some of the demands and requests made both by myself and by noble Lords from the Liberal Democrat Benches.

However, I have to say that I do not think that the noble and learned Lord went far enough on this occasion. I referred earlier, as did other noble Lords, to the report from the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee. I can assure the noble and learned Lord that whenever that Committee made recommendations when we were in government we were always most scrupulous in taking up those recommendations and in acting upon them. It would be right if we allowed the House at least to have the opportunity on this occasion to consider the matter.

I appreciate that the noble and learned Lord has made a number of concessions. He has lengthened the period of delay from 40 days to 60 days at a time when I was suggesting bringing it down from 60 days to 40 days. I do not think that the actual period of time available for scrutiny of these orders is a matter of great importance. What I do believe is important is that Parliament itself, and not just the Executive, has some power, some ability, for developing a procedure whereby it can amend these orders. That is what was recommended by the Delegated

29 Jan 1998 : Column 409

Powers and Deregulation Committee and that is what I think this House ought to be given the opportunity to consider this evening. For that reason I do not wish to withdraw these amendments. I wish to test the opinion of the House.

8.50 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 49) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 14; Not-Contents, 63.

Division No. 3

CONTENTS

Annaly, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Burnham, L.
Byford, B. [Teller.]
Clanwilliam, E.
Coleraine, L.
Henley, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kingsland, L. [Teller.]
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Lyell, L.
Naseby, L.
Renton, L.
Rowallan, L.

NOT-CONTENTS

Acton, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Chandos, V.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Desai, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gilbert, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Hardie, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Levy, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mallalieu, B.
Mishcon, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Simon, V.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

29 Jan 1998 : Column 409

[Amendment No. 50 not moved.]

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendment No. 51:


Page 7, line 8, after ("Parliament") insert ("made after the end of the period for consideration").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 52 to 55 not moved.]

29 Jan 1998 : Column 410

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendments Nos. 56 to 58:


Page 7, line 17, at end insert--
("( ) A remedial order (or draft) laid before Parliament must be accompanied by a statement containing--
(a) an explanation of the incompatibility which the order seeks to remove, including particulars of the relevant declaration, finding or order; and
(b) a statement of the reasons why the person making it (or proposing to make it) considers an order in those terms appropriate.").
Page 7, line 18, leave out ("In subsection (2)").
Page 7, line 18, after ("means") insert--
("(a) in subsection (1), the period of sixty days beginning with the day on which the draft was laid, and
(b) in subsection (2),").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.

Lord Coleraine: My Lords, the noble and learned Lord has spoken to this amendment with Amendment No. 49. I should have liked to respond after he had spoken on that group of amendments, as I should have been entitled to do. However, I felt that it would be confusing to the House if I tried to intervene between the noble and learned Lord and my noble friend winding up on Amendment No. 49.

At this time, when the Government are being so generous in so many ways on this Bill, would it not be a collateral advantage for the statement to be made as set out in Amendment No. 56 to extend not only to the reasons why it is appropriate for the order in those terms to be made, but also why it is appropriate to proceed by way of remedial order?

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, perhaps I may write to the noble Lord on that subject.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 59 not moved.]

Clause 13 [Other rights and proceedings]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 60:


Leave out Clause 13 and insert the following new clause--

Safeguard for existing human rights

(" . A person's reliance on a Convention right does not restrict--
(a) any other right or freedom conferred on him by or under any law having effect in any part of the United Kingdom, or
(b) his right to make any claim or bring any proceedings which he could make or bring apart from sections 7 to 9.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is designed to clarify the purpose of Clause 13 and to remove any possible misunderstanding. Clause 13 as presently drafted, and as it would be in this new clause, is simply to provide a saving for other human rights. It is there to ensure that if a person has existing rights, nothing in this Bill shall detract from them in any way. We believe that this amendment brings that out more clearly than the current formulation. That, briefly, is the purpose of the amendment.

29 Jan 1998 : Column 411

There are, of course, two kinds of relationship created in the Bill between convention and domestic law: the interpretive principle in Clauses 3 to 5, and the right to rely on convention rights against a public authority in Clauses 6 to 9. We do not wish to have any misunderstanding. We believe that the new formulation makes the position, as was intended, rather plainer. We hope that your Lordships will find the amendment to be a useful clarification. I beg to move.

9 p.m.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, I greatly welcome the amendment. I do so because it makes clear that which is already implicit in the Bill--namely, that the European convention contains a floor of minimum rights guaranteed under international law, but does not create a ceiling. Therefore, if Parliament chooses to go further or if the common law goes further in protecting our basic rights and freedoms, which are inherent in us as citizens and human beings, the convention and the Bill are not to restrict that. The fact that that is a minimum and not a maximum is made clear in the convention itself. It does not mean that there will never be conflict and difficult questions to be resolved as a result of people arguing that, say, the Race Relations Act is an infringement of some basic right in the convention, or other such points. It is important that one does not concentrate only upon the convention as a guarantee of rights. As the amendment makes clear, the common law will continue to develop in a creative way and no doubt the convention will be used, as the Bill makes clear, in the course of developing the common law.

I, for one, believe that one should approach convention rights through out common law and through the statute book, not round the common law or the statute book. That is to say, one intertwines convention rights into our domestic legal system. One of the many virtues of the Bill is the fact that those who have thought it through and drafted it have found ways to create very subtle connections between convention rights and our own statute law and common law. This modest looking amendment is designed to make all of that clear. It is to be welcomed.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill had given notice of his attention to move Amendment No. 61:


After Clause 13, insert the following new clause--

("Human Rights Commissioner
Human Rights Commissioner

.--(1) The Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument appoint a Commissioner, to be known as the Human Rights Commissioner, to perform any or all of the following functions--
(a) to provide advice or other assistance, including legal and financial assistance, to persons--
(i) bringing, or proposing to bring, proceedings under section 7; or
(ii) relying or proposing to rely upon a Convention right in any proceedings,

29 Jan 1998 : Column 412


provided that the Human Rights Commissioner considers that such proceedings raise a question of principle of general public importance;
(b) to bring proceedings under section 7 or intervene in proceedings--
(i) brought under section 7; or
(ii) where a Convention right is relied upon,
provided that the Human Rights Commissioner considers the bringing of such proceedings, or such intervention, to be in the furtherance of the main purposes of this Act;
(c) to undertake research and educational activities connected with the main purposes of this Act; or
(d) to review and report to the Secretary of State on the appropriate machinery to give effect within the United Kingdom to the Convention rights set out in Article 14 of the Convention (prohibition of discrimination).
(2) No order may be made under subsection (1) unless a draft of the order has been laid before, and approved by, each House of Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, for the reasons that I outlined at the start of our deliberations today, I shall not move the amendment on this occasion but will return to the matter on Third Reading.

[Amendment No. 61 not moved.]

Clause 18 [Appointment to European Court of Human Rights]:


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