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Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 107:


Page 38, line 10, leave out from second ("to") to end of line 14 and insert--
(a) the Attorney General for Northern Ireland; and
(b) where the decision mentioned in subsection (1) relates to a devolution issue (within the meaning of Schedule 11), the appropriate authority,
unless the person to whom the notice would be given is a party to the proceedings.
(5) A person to whom notice is given under subsection (4)").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, within this group are Amendments Nos. 107 and 108. They modify Clause 76 in the context of a court or tribunal having concluded that a provision of an Act of the Assembly is not within the legislative competence or that subordinate legislation is ultra vires. The court has certain powers which your Lordships know well.

A decision under this section will clearly involve the wider public interest and the Attorney-General for Northern Ireland who is, and who will remain, the same individual as the Attorney General for England and Wales, is entitled to be present and make representations.

Having thought about this, we came to the conclusion that the devolved authorities might also have a legitimate point of view on these questions. Where such a situation arises and the devolved authorities are not already represented, we simply give the First and Deputy First Ministers a right to be notified of the proceedings and to take part in them. That seems to us to be an amendment of practical utility and improvement. Rights of audience are also given to the relevant law officers if the proceedings should arise in England, Wales or Scotland, but we envisage that that will be a rarity. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

10 Nov 1998 : Column 721

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 108:


Page 38, line 19, at end insert--
("(7) In this section "the appropriate authority" means--
(a) in relation to proceedings in Northern Ireland, the First Minister and the deputy First Minister acting jointly;
(b) in relation to proceedings in England and Wales, the Attorney General;
(c) in relation to proceedings in Scotland, the Lord Advocate and the Advocate General for Scotland.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 109:


After Clause 77, insert the following new clause--

Interpretation of Acts of the Assembly etc

(".--(1) This section applies where--
(a) any provision of an Act of the Assembly, or of a Bill for such an Act, could be read either--
(i) in such a way as to be within the legislative competence of the Assembly; or
(ii) in such a way as to be outside that competence; or
(b) any provision of subordinate legislation made, confirmed or approved, or purporting to be made, confirmed or approved, by a Northern Ireland authority could be read either--
(i) in such a way as not to be invalid by reason of section 22 or, as the case may be, section 72; or
(ii) in such a way as to be invalid by reason of that section.
(2) The provision shall be read in the way which makes it within that competence or, as the case may be, does not make it invalid by reason of that section, and shall have effect accordingly.
(3) In this section "Northern Ireland authority" means a Minister, a Northern Ireland department or a public authority (within the meaning of section 72) carrying out functions in relation to Northern Ireland.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a technical clause about the way in which the court should interpret Acts of the Assembly, subordinate legislation and indeed measures of a wide range of public authorities, including Ministers of the Crown. The point of the amendment is quite simple. If there are alternative readings of the provisions of the legislation concerned, the reading which would lead to a conclusion of validity is to be preferred. It is as simple as that. I beg to move.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I accept the reasons for this amendment. It seems to correspond broadly with Clause 101 of the Scotland Bill. But there is quite a difference in subsection (2). The clause before us proposed for the Northern Ireland Bill says,


    "The provision shall be read in the way which makes it within that competence or, as the case may be, does not make it invalid by reason of that section, and shall have effect accordingly".
But the Scottish provision states that,


    "Such a provision is to be read as narrowly as is required for it to be within competence, if such a reading is possible, and is to have effect accordingly".

10 Nov 1998 : Column 722

I find it difficult to be sure what the legal effects of those different wordings are. It does not seem to me to be wise. A little explanation is required as to why a different formulation has been proposed in the two Bills on an otherwise identical point.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am not sure why the Scottish version was rather less elegant that the one that my noble friend Lord Dubs and I propose here. For the purposes of Northern Ireland it seems that this is the right way to put it. I shall reflect about the arcane nature of the Scotland Bill. Perhaps it was exhaustion that led people not to notice the attractive alternative drafting. I shall write to the noble Lord and put a copy of my reply in the Library.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 78 [Provision with respect to certain matters relating to Northern Ireland]:

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 110:


Page 39, line 9, leave out ("the Parliament of the United Kingdom") and insert ("Parliament").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is a pure drafting amendment to omit redundant words so that the clause simply refers to an Act of Parliament. That expression is unambiguous in the context. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 80 [Provision for purposes consequential on Act etc.]:

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 111:


Page 40, line 38, at end insert ("or 6").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 112 to 116. They expand and clarify Clause 80. The purpose of this clause is to enable the law to be amended in order to give effect to the Bill and orders made under Clauses 4 and 6. The chief end to which this power will be put is the transfer of functions between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland public bodies.

Amendment No. 112 revises subsections (2) and (3) so that functions can be transferred from United Kingdom authorities to Northern Ireland authorities and vice versa. Functions may need to be transferred in this way for three main reasons. The first is to ensure that functions falling within the excepted or reserved field under the terms of Schedules 2 and 3 to this Bill can be dealt with by United Kingdom and not Northern Ireland authorities. Secondly, it is to ensure that functions can be transferred between United Kingdom and Northern Ireland authorities following the reservation or transfer of a matter under a Clause 4 order. The third reason is to ensure that functions can be transferred between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland authorities following the making of an order under Clause 6 specifying certain functions as being exercisable in or as regards Northern Ireland. Your Lordships may recall that that has a particular application to fisheries.

Amendment No. 114 provides for a particular contingency. It enables further Orders in Council to be made to make functions which have been transferred to Northern Ireland authorities exercisable again by UK authorities alone or concurrently with the Northern

10 Nov 1998 : Column 723

Ireland authorities. We have in mind again the special case of the fishing industry where licences are issued in respect of boats which are of course mobile and which have, until now, been licensed to fish in UK waters. In future, there will be Northern Ireland waters and Scottish waters and licences will be issued by devolved authorities with more limited remits. For practical reasons it will be necessary to retain the possibility of a concurrent UK authority and this amendment will allow that.

Amendments Nos. 111, 113 and 114 are minor amendments. Amendment No. 115 redefines the meaning of a Northern Ireland authority and a United Kingdom authority in line with the wording in Clause 26. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Dubs moved Amendments Nos. 112 to 116:


Page 40, line 39, leave out subsections (2) and (3) and insert--
("(2) Orders under subsection (1) may make provision for transferring to a United Kingdom authority, with effect from any date specified in the Order--
(a) any functions which immediately before that date are exercisable by a Northern Ireland authority and appear to Her Majesty to be concerned with a matter which is an excepted or reserved matter (whether by virtue of an Order under section 4 or otherwise);
(b) any functions which immediately before that date are exercisable by a Northern Ireland authority and appear to her Majesty not to be exercisable in or as regards Northern Ireland by virtue of an Order under section 6.
(3) Orders under subsection (1) may make provision for transferring to a Northern Ireland authority, with effect from any date specified in the Order--
(a) any functions which immediately before that date are exercisable by a United Kingdom authority and appear to her Majesty to be concerned with a matter which is a transferred matter (whether by virtue of an Order under section 4 or otherwise);
(b) any functions which immediately before that date are exercisable by a United Kingdom authority and appear to her Majesty to be exercisable in or as regards Northern Ireland by virtue of an Order under section 6.").
Page 41, line 9, leave out ("Provision may be made,") and insert ("An Order under subsection (1) may make provision,").
Page 41, line 11, at end insert ("or 6").
Page 41, line 15, at end insert--
("( ) Where such provision as is mentioned in subsection (3)(b) has been made by Order in Council under subsection (1), Her Majesty may, if it appears to Her necessary or expedient to do so, by Order in Council--
(a) provide that the functions transferred to the Northern Ireland authority shall be exercisable by a United Kingdom authority, either alone or concurrently with the Northern Ireland authority; and
(b) make such provision as is mentioned in subsection (4)(a) to (c).").
Page 41, leave out lines 20 to 30 and insert (""Northern Ireland authority" means--
(a) a Minister or a Northern Ireland department;
(b) the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland; or
(c) any other public body or holder of public office in Northern Ireland.

10 Nov 1998 : Column 724


(7) In this section "United Kingdom authority" means--
(a) the Privy Council;
(b) any Minister of the Crown;
(c) the Defence Council;
(d) the Commissioners of Inland Revenue;
(e) the Commissioners of Customs and Excise;
(f) the Comptroller and Auditor General; or
(g) any other public body or holder of public office in the United Kingdom.").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 83 [Industrial Injuries Advisory Council]:


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