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Lord Mackay of Drumadoon: Perhaps I may very briefly indicate that I support my noble friend Lord Selkirk of Douglas in raising this important issue. The Government may well have concerns about the drafting of the amendment, in that the United Kingdom does not recognise the ownership of the seabed outwith territorial waters. A distinction may well have to be drawn between the law as it applies within and outwith territorial waters. They are important issues. It would be unfortunate to have any confusion about this, and I hope a full reply will be made.

Lord Sewel: I think that it might be helpful if I explain what provision the Bill currently makes for dealing with the ownership and exploitation of the seabed.

As noble Lords will be aware, the Crown Estate's Scottish interests include ownership of much of the foreshore and the seabed and the mineral resources in the UK Continental Shelf, excluding coal, oil and gas. Under the Bill, the remit and function of the Crown and the Crown Estate Commissioners, would be reserved. However, the property and interests of the Crown Estate would be subject to the Scottish parliament's legislation in such areas as planning law, land law and environmental protection.

One aspect which would not be devolved, however, is the ownership of, exploration for and exploitation of deposits of oil and natural gas. This appears to us to be the most sensible way of allocating responsibility for the seabed. Further offshore, the seabed is, and will continue to be, exploited for its oil and natural gas reserves which lie underneath. That is already a reserved matter. These resources are a UK asset and we believe that they should be regulated on that basis. I hope that

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that goes at least some way to answering noble Lords' points and, on that basis, I hope that the noble Lord will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas: I do not want to prolong this debate, but I must advise the Minister that I am not altogether satisfied with that reply because I believe that in the future mineral deposits of very considerable consequence--perhaps even more significant than oil and gas--will be discovered and will be of enormous importance to the UK as a whole. I am quite certain that if that happens the UK Parliament will not want to find that it is barred from considering the matter because the future potential of such matters has not been fully considered.

Lord Sewel: At this time of night, perhaps I may write to the noble Lord to clarify the matter.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas: My request is that the Minister looks at this matter and all its implications thoroughly in co-operation with his colleagues in government to see how this can best be covered. I genuinely believe that this will be enormously important in the future. Having said that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Sewel moved Amendment No. 227A:

Page 83, line 32, at end insert--
("(1A) Sub-paragraph (1) has effect as regards--
(a) the constitution of the authority, including its establishment and dissolution, its assets and liabilities and its funding and receipts,
(b) conferring or removing any functions specifically exercisable in relation to the authority.
(1B) Sub-paragraph (1A)(b) does not apply to any function which is specifically exercisable in relation to a particular function of the authority if the particular function relates to reserved matters.").

The noble Lord said: Government Amendment No. 227A inserts an interpretative provision into Part III of Schedule 5 to make it clear what that part means by providing that the schedule does not reserve Scottish public authorities with mixed functions which are not cross-Border public authorities under Clause 83. Examples of such bodies are local authorities, the courts, NHS trusts, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Law Commission and the Registrar General for Births, Deaths and Marriages in Scotland. Local authorities have mixed functions because, although most of their functions relate to devolved matters, they have some functions which relate to reserved matters, such as in relation to consumer protection or the administration of housing benefit.

The purpose of that provision is to ensure that the Scottish parliament has full legislative competence over such authorities as if they did not have any reserved functions and that all ministerial functions exercisable in connection with such authorities will transfer to Scottish Ministers. These general propositions are subject only to the qualification that the Scottish parliament should have competence over the subject matter of the reserved function of the authority or that ministerial functions

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which are specifically exercisable with regard to those reserved functions should not transfer, with the exception of any ministerial functions to fund those reserved functions.

The new provision in Amendment No. 227A therefore provides that the non-reservation of such an authority has effect with regard to its constitution, which is defined as including its establishment and dissolution, its assets and liabilities and its funding. This will enable, for example, the Scottish parliament to legislate about the constitution and establishment of local authorities.

Amendment No. 227A also enables the Scottish parliament to confer or remove any functions specifically exercisable in relation to the authority. This will also ensure that ministerial functions will transfer to Scottish Ministers--for example, any powers of direction or to supervise activities or any functions relating to funding. This however will be subject to certain specific exceptions for which we propose to bring forward amendments at Report stage. One case for which this will be required is the function of the DSS to fund local authorities in relation to housing benefit and council tax benefit which are to remain with DSS.

The new sub-paragraph 1(3) that would be inserted by this amendment provides an exception to the general rule about conferral on removal of functions. It provides that the general provision in paragraph 1(1) of Part III of Schedule 5 will not apply to functions which are specifically exercisable in relation to a particular function of an authority which relates to reserved matters. This will ensure for instance that ministerial powers of direction which are specifically exercisable in relation to the administration of the reserved matter of housing benefit or council tax benefit by local authorities remain exercisable by UK Ministers.

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I am sure the Committee agrees that this amendment can only be described as technical. It is, however, necessary to ensure that the Bill's provisions in relation to public bodies work as intended. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Sewel moved Amendments Nos. 227B and 227C:

Page 83, line 36, at end insert--

("Reserved bodies

2A.--(1) The reservation of any body to which this paragraph applies has effect to reserve--
(a) its constitution, including its establishment and dissolution, its assets and liabilities and its funding and receipts,
(b) conferring functions on it or removing functions from it,
(c) conferring or removing any functions specifically exercisable in relation to it.
(2) This paragraph applies to--
(a) a body reserved by name by Part II of this Schedule,
(b) each of the councils reserved by Section 11 of Head 3,
(c) the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the National Disability Council.").
Page 84, line 5, at end insert--
("(2) Subordinate legislation under section 115(3) may, in relation to the operation of this Schedule at any time before the principal appointed day, modify the references to that day in sub-paragraph (1).").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Schedule 5, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Hoyle: I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed

        House adjourned at twenty-seven minutes past midnight.

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