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Lord Williams of Mostyn: That is a perfectly legitimate question. My understanding is that, if one has what one might call a moral obligation, which is not either a treaty obligation or an obligation under

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customary international law, that would not found the basis for the Secretary of State's powers, as the noble Lord indicated.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 59 not moved.]

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendments Nos. 60 to 62:

Page 10, line 22, leave out ("or which could be revoked") and insert (", confirmed or approved").
Page 10, line 25, leave out from ("obligations") to end of line 29.
Page 10, line 31, leave out ("subsection (4) shall recite the reasons for revoking the legislation") and insert ("this section shall recite the reasons for making the order").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 20, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 63:

After Clause 20, insert the following new clause--

Quotas for purposes of international or Community obligations

(".--(1) A Minister of the Crown may make an order containing provision such as is specified in subsection (2) where--
(a) an international obligation or an obligation under Community law is an obligation to achieve a result defined by reference to a quantity (whether expressed as an amount, proportion or ratio or otherwise); and
(b) the quantity relates to the United Kingdom (or to an area including the United Kingdom or to an area consisting of a part of the United Kingdom which is or includes the whole or part of Northern Ireland).
(2) The provision referred to in subsection (1) is provision for the achievement by a Minister or Northern Ireland department (in the exercise of his or its functions) of so much of the result to be achieved under the international obligation or obligation under Community law as is specified in the order.
(3) The order may specify the time by which any part of the result to be achieved by the Minister or department is to be achieved.
(4) Where an order under subsection (1) is in force in relation to an international obligation or an obligation under Community law, the obligation shall have effect for the purposes of this Act as if it were an obligation to achieve so much of the result to be achieved under the obligation as is specified in the order by the time or times so specified.
(5) No order shall be made by a Minister of the Crown under subsection (1) unless he has consulted the Minister or Department concerned.")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 21 [Agency arrangements between UK and NI departments]:

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 64:

Page 10, line 33, leave out from ("between") to ("any") in line 34 and insert--
("(a) any department of the Government of the United Kingdom or any public body, or holder of a public office, in the United Kingdom; and

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 64, I speak also to Amendments Nos. 65 and 66. The purpose of Clause 21 is to allow Northern Ireland departments to carry out functions on behalf of other UK administrations or vice versa. These agency

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arrangements were provided for in the 1973 Act and the amendments take devolved terminology into account. The inclusion of public bodies and holders of public office in the provision enables authorities outside central government departments to act on behalf of the executive, should the need arise. This will achieve parity between all three of the devolved systems and further leave scope for the making of agency arrangements with other UK public bodies and NDPBs.

Amendment No. 64 broadens scope to include any public body and/or holder of public office in agency arrangements. Amendment No. 65 ensures that any public body and/or holder of public office included in such arrangements retains responsibility for its functions regardless. Amendment No. 66 removes an obsolete clause, as the Post Office is a public body. I beg to move.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: Amendment No. 67, tabled in my name, falls to be considered with this group. It attempts to give a little more definition to these agreements between the Northern Ireland executive and the United Kingdom Government and various other people, but particularly, as expressed in the amendment, between the two Governments. I have suggested that these arrangements should be called "concordats" and that they should be formal in the sense that a draft of such a concordat should be approved both in Parliament at Westminster and also in the Assembly. It seems to me important that these agreements should be above board and entirely public, that they should be seen to be so and that they should have the necessary democratic approval.

Some guidance on these kinds of agreements was given in connection with the Scotland and Wales legislation in some notes that were put in the Library on 27th February this year. It suggested that concordats would normally be signed by officials and would not be legally enforceable, which rather surprised me. I would have thought it important that each side should be able to insist on the other side carrying out the agreement. It also suggested that some of them should not be published. That is an odd provision to insert, given what everybody else has said at different times about freedom of information in government. There was no question that such matters would require approval of any kind either by Parliament or the Assembly. That is what leads me to table this particular amendment.

Lord Holme of Cheltenham: Perhaps the Minister can clarify whether public bodies include the executive agencies that nowadays conduct so much of the business of government. I am not sure that I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Cope, about Parliament having to approve such agreements. At the moment if a government department's business is sub-contracted, which is what this amounts to--whether the Northern Irish Government sub-contract to a British Government department or agency, or vice versa--I am not sure that normally it requires parliamentary approval. I believe that the test of parliamentary approval is whether whatever arrangements normally require such approval should continue to attract it. But I believe that such

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arrangements for sub-contracting work should at least be placed in the Library and information on them should be made available. I would be grateful if the Minister could respond on that point.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: I rise briefly to support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley. I believe it is important for the avoidance of doubt and even more important for the avoidance of friction to have the same form of endorsement and approval as the comparable legislation in the Scottish parliament and the Welsh assembly.

Lord Dubs: I first answer the specific question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Holme. The answer is that such agencies would be covered. Clearly, they carry out a great deal of the work in Northern Ireland. As regards Amendment No. 67 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Cope, I cannot agree to this amendment which would introduce a formal parliamentary procedure in relation to concordats which these non-statutory agreements simply do not justify and merit. Concordats are not intended to be legally binding contracts or treaties between the two administrations. They are agreements to promote effective communications and joint working between the Northern Ireland Executive and the United Kingdom Government.

The noble Lord, Lord Holme, asked about the publication of guidance. We are making arrangements to publish the guidance given to Northern Ireland departments. The guidance for Scotland and Wales has already been published.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Dubs moved Amendments Nos. 65 and 66:

Page 10, line 37, leave out ("department") and insert ("person").
Page 11, line 1, leave out subsection (4).

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 67 not moved.]

Clause 21, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 22 [Statutory committees]:

Lord Dubs moved Amendments Nos. 68 and 69:

Page 11, line 4, leave out subsection (1).
Page 11, line 12, at end insert ("; and
( ) conferring on the committees the powers described in paragraph 9 of Strand One of the Belfast Agreement.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 70 not moved.]

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 71:

Page 11, line 18, leave out from ("the") to ("power") in line 19 and insert ("nominating officer does not exercise the power conferred by paragraph (a) within a period specified in standing orders, or the nominated person does not take up the selected office within that period, that").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 72 not moved.]

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