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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am grateful for the clarity of that assurance. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 138 not moved.]

Clause 53 agreed to.

Clause 54 agreed to.

Clause 55 [Application of section 56]:

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 138A:


The noble Baroness said: We now turn to a very long part of the Bill, but one which is almost entirely uncontroversial—certainly to Members on these Benches. I refer to the issue of driving disqualifications and reciprocal recognition of those disqualifications. In moving this amendment, with the leave of the Committee, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 139.

The Bill states that the duty to inform foreign authorities of the disqualification of a non-UK resident does not apply in prescribed circumstances. I am attempting to ascertain what those circumstances are. Will the Minister explain how and when the regulations will be made? Will they be published; and, if so, under what conditions?

Paragraph 123 of the Explanatory Notes states:


    "Notification would not be required, for example, where another Member State has declared that it will apply certain discretionary conditions to the recognition of the disqualifications, as described in Article 6(2) of the Convention".

I merely included that wording in the substance of my amendment, in order to ask the Minister just what is meant by that example. What other examples are there? If this is merely "an" example of what can happen, on what other basis can certain discretionary conditions be applied? We are told that the circumstances will be prescribed in regulations. So far as I am aware, Members of the Committee have not yet received any information about the regulations. I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Under Article 6(2) of the EU convention, the state of residence may declare that it will always refuse to recognise a disqualification where the conduct involved does not constitute an offence in its legislation or where a disqualification would not be an applicable penalty for the offence. It may also refuse to act where the remaining period of disqualification to be enforced is less than one month.

The UK is not required under the EU convention to notify a disqualification to a member state which has declared that it will always apply conditions that would preclude the recognition of the disqualification.

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The Bill therefore provides for regulations to state when the duty to notify a disqualification will not arise.

The second amendment—which would disapply the duty to notify a member state where it has made a declaration in respect of Article 6.2—addresses the issue but does not provide the full remedy.

The EU convention allows a member state to declare that it will always apply the conditions in Article 6.2,


    "in whole or in part".

Regulations allow us to reflect the exact terms of the declaration made by each member state.

We do not know at this stage how many member states will make a declaration in respect of Article 6.2. That will only become clear as and when other member states ratify the convention and we are able to conclude agreements with them to implement the convention on a bilateral basis. It is at that point that regulations will be made to detail clearly the circumstances in which the duty to notify a disqualification will not apply in respect of that state.

Regulations will be made on a bilateral basis with other member states to ratify the convention. It is probably widely known that, at present, only Spain has ratified the convention. We shall seek to begin negotiations with the Spanish to decide the terms of the regulations shortly after the Bill comes into force.

The noble Baroness asked what regulations would be made as regards other prescribed circumstances. They might cover such matters as the conduct for which the driving disqualification had been imposed; the remaining period of disqualification that might have to be enforced; and where disqualification was not a measure available under the legislation of the state of residence. I have probably not satisfied the noble Baroness on every point raised, but I hope that I have covered most.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. He has gone a long way towards satisfying me on these matters. I was certainly grateful to him for his comment on the bilateral basis on which implementation will take place. That is important and his response was very helpful. As the Minister will know, the Automobile Association, among others, has been very concerned about whether there will be reciprocal agreements and whether we shall jump the gun and put the provisions of this Bill into effect before there is a bilateral agreement.

I need to examine the Minister's remarks carefully. There remain other possible situations in which discretion might be applied. I do not think that I shall need to return to any major point, but further clarification may be required. I shall need to ensure that the Automobile Association is fully satisfied. Naturally, as we are in Grand Committee, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 139 not moved.]

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On Question, Whether Clause 55 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Carlisle of Bucklow: I shall refer specifically to Clause 55(5), but, first, I want to raise a general issue which I hope will warm the heart of my noble friend Lord Renton and strike a chord with other Members of the Committee. Ever since the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, and myself entered Parliament, at about the same time, in 1964—in fact, the noble Lord won his seat shortly after that—we have heard every incoming government state, before taking office, that it is their intention to pass less legislation and to do it in a clearer and simpler form.

One has only to stand in the Library of either House and look at the expansion in the volumes of legislation that has occurred year by year, to see not only that governments have failed to pass less legislation, but that they have certainly not done it in shorter and simpler form. I am concerned about the complexity in the drafting of every Bill—so much so that it is almost impossible to follow what is being said.

In this Bill, we have an example, not of complexity leading to a failure to understand what is being said, but of unnecessary verbosity and repetition. Clauses 55 and 56 require that the appropriate Minister—in this case the Secretary of State—shall give notice where an individual from another country has been convicted of a motoring offence in this country and has been disqualified.

Clause 55 starts by stating that Section 56, which gives the Home Secretary a duty to notify the appropriate authority abroad, will apply where,


    "an individual . . . who is normally resident in a member State other than the United Kingdom is convicted of an offence".

That is simple. Secondly, it states that,


    "no appeal is outstanding in relation to the offence".

That is simple. And, thirdly, it provides that,


    "the driving disqualification condition is met in relation to the offence".

That is also simple. Why do we need subsection (5), which is a further seven lines, to define what is meant by the words "no appeal is outstanding"? Subsection (5) states that,


    "no appeal is outstanding in relation to an offence if—

(a) no appeal is brought against an offender's conviction of the offence, or any order made on his conviction, within the time allowed for making such appeals, or"— alternatively, if he has brought an appeal—


    "(b) such an appeal is brought and the proceedings on appeal are finally concluded".

Surely, any appeal is outstanding until the time limit has passed during which he can make an appeal, or he has already made an appeal. Equally, an appeal is outstanding from the time that notice has been given of an intention to appeal until those appeal proceedings have been finally concluded. How can "no appeal is outstanding" mean anything other than what is said in subsection (5)?

Subsection (5) is a good example of a totally otiose and unnecessary subsection, which defines a matter that does not need defining and which is well known to

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all the courts in this country. I know that I shall be shot down in flames and told that it means many other things, but I cannot think—and I challenge any other member of the Bar immediately to think—what "no appeal is outstanding" can possibly mean, other than that no appeal has been made, that the time for making any appeal has been completed, or, if one has been made, that it has been concluded.

If we start with the simple exercise of taking out subsection (5) and then apply the same consideration consistently to other clauses in the Bill and other Bills, perhaps we shall achieve shorter, simpler and easier to follow legislation.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Renton: I support my noble friend Lord Carlisle. I confess that more than a quarter of a century ago I was made the chairman of the only official parliamentary committee since 1870 to advise on how Acts of Parliament should be drafted. In our report we tried to prevent over-zealousness in drafting, such as inserting unnecessary matters or entering into unnecessary detail. For the reasons that my noble friend Lord Carlisle has given, subsection (5) is not only unnecessary, but confusing.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Far be it for me to contradict both noble Lords who have spoken of their length of time in their Lordships' House and in another place, and who have knowledge and experience. In particular, the noble Lord, Lord Renton, obviously occupied a special place when he reviewed how legislation should be written. My guess is that there are drafting conventions and that they change from time to time.

I am advised that subsection (5) is required because it makes clear—perhaps not to the satisfaction of the noble Lords who have spoken—that strict time limits apply and that the Minister need not wait to see whether special leave is granted in special circumstances. That is its purpose.

The subsection may appear unnecessary and otiose to the noble Lords who spoke, but it is there for a specific purpose. Certainly, I shall reread it in relation to the rest of the clause, but that is the explanation. Perhaps when the noble Lords have reflected on what I have said and have reread the provision, they may also see the point being made.


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