Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Baroness Rawlings: I am grateful for the clarification that the amendment provides and that the Minister has given. We support its inclusion in the Bill.

Lord Goodhart: We, too, support the amendment.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 5 [Section 4: supplementary]:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 6:



"(2A) Such an order may make consequential, transitional or saving provision.
(2B) Provision made under subsection (2A) may modify any enactment."

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6 agreed to.

The Schedule [Schedule 1A to the 2002 Act]:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 7:


    Page 15, line 1, leave out second "not" and insert "to"

The noble Baroness said: The amendment simply attends to a fairly obvious typographical error. I hope that we need not spend any time correcting or debating it. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Schedule, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 7 and 8 agreed to.

Clause 9 [Electoral Commission recommendation as to the electoral region to be combined with Gibraltar]:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 8:

13 Mar 2003 : Column GC37


    Page 5, line 16, leave out "and the Chief Minister" and insert ", the Chief Minister and the leader of each political party represented in the House of Assembly"

The noble Baroness said: Clause 9(2) requires the Electoral Commission to consult the Governor and the Chief Minister of Gibraltar before making its recommendation to the Lord Chancellor about which electoral region Gibraltar should be combined with for the purposes of the European Parliament elections.

The choice of region with which Gibraltar will make up a combined region is a key element in achieving the enfranchisement of the people of Gibraltar, and one which the Government recognise will be very close to the hearts of the people of Gibraltar and the Government of Gibraltar. There will be many others too with a keen and legitimate interest in the matter, in both Gibraltar and the United Kingdom, but we do not think that it is necessary to have what purports to be a comprehensive list of consultees in the Bill.

There are two very good reasons for that. The Electoral Commission intends to consult widely within both England and Wales and Gibraltar to enable it to receive views from as wide a range of interests as possible. In particular, it will wish to provide an opportunity for the people of Gibraltar to express views. Given the fine record that the commission has for coming up with an authoritative view on such important electoral matters, I am confident that that will be the case.

The commission will not wish to be hamstrung by what might purport to be a comprehensive list. That brings me to my second reason for resisting an extension to the list of consultees, which is the danger that we miss someone by trying to make it comprehensive. Until the Electoral Commission begins its preliminary work, it will not necessarily be entirely clear who should be consulted.

As my honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary made clear in another place, we believe that the statutory list of consultees should be a balanced and representative one. Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 approach the subject with the same thought in mind.

The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, tabled Amendment No. 9, which would add the House of Assembly and representatives of political parties in Gibraltar, whom the commission might expect to seek registration so as to participate in the European Parliament elections. That is similar in some ways to the government amendment, but it would present a considerable difficulty for the Electoral Commission in trying to predict which parties might seek registration.

While I am confident that the commission will want to be in touch with all the political parties that may wish to field candidates in the European parliamentary elections, I would not want to place it in a position where it had to be entirely accurate in its crystal-ball gazing in order to meet its statutory obligations.

On the other hand, Amendment No. 10, tabled by the noble Baroness, seeks to add only the Government of Gibraltar to the existing list. The clause already

13 Mar 2003 : Column GC38

includes the representatives of the Government of Gibraltar. I hope that she will feel content with that. I beg to move.

Lord Goodhart: Amendment No. 9, the second amendment in the group, is tabled in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Rennard. I am glad that the Government have taken up the point, and I am happy to accept the government amendment.

Baroness Rawlings: I rise to speak to Amendment No. 10, which is in the name of my noble friends Lord Howell of Guildford and Lord Astor of Hever and is part of this grouping. We have long been urging the Government to ensure that the Electoral Commission widens its circle of consultation before deciding which regions should be combined with Gibraltar, and we fully support their decision to do so. It seems entirely fair that the commission should consult representatives from other political parties as it would in the UK.

At that point, I would also like to ask the Minister whether she would make available at a later date, but possibly well before Report, the population statistics of Ceuta and Melilla, with which region they are combined and whether Gibraltar's enfranchisement is comparable.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I will certainly use my best endeavours to do so. I do not know whether we have those figures, but I am sure that we can look for them. If they are available, I would be most happy to try to make them available to the noble Baroness.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 not moved.]

Clause 9, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 10 and 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 [Sections 10 and 11: supplementary ]:

Lord Goodhart moved Amendment No. 11:


    Page 6, line 28, leave out "subordinate legislation" and insert "by subordinate legislation provisions which are necessary or expedient in consequence of or in connection with the inclusion of Gibraltar in an electoral region"

The noble Lord said: The amendment arises out of the fifth report of the Constitution Committee, a Select Committee of this House. Clauses 10 and 11 confer on the Lord Chancellor power to make orders. Clause 10 relates to the establishment of the combined region, and Clause 11 to the power to make consequential provision.

Clause 12(2) states that orders under Clauses 10 and 11 are to be made by statutory instrument. Clause 12(3) contains a rather unusual power, because orders made under it may themselves confer a further power to make subordinate legislation. That legislation would not only be delegated but re-delegated legislation.

The Constitution Committee was somewhat concerned about that, and on 13th February wrote to the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor a

13 Mar 2003 : Column GC39

letter printed in appendix 1 to its fifth report of the present Session. In paragraph 3 of the letter, the committee raised the following questions:


    "On whom would such power be conferred? What are the limits of that power? When is it envisaged that it would be necessary to confer such a power? Would such sub-delegated legislation be subject to procedure for ensuring parliamentary approval and scrutiny? And would such sub-delegated legislation be required to be exercised by statutory instrument?".

The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor replied at some length on 19th February, and his letter is set out in appendix 2. I think that I need refer to only one sentence of it, in which he said:


    "The use of the power will be limited to provisions which are necessary or expedient in consequence of or in connection with the inclusion of Gibraltar in an electoral region".

In paragraph 4 of the report, following that exchange of correspondence, the Committee said:


    "This limitation is not, however, incorporated on the face of the bill. As it stands, we consider that this provision is very wide, and that it would be better were the power to be more narrowly drawn".

The purpose of the amendment is to implement the views of the Constitution Committee, which we support. We believe that it did a service in drawing the issue to the attention of the House and the Grand Committee. We think that the amendment represents an improvement to the Bill. I beg to move.

5 p.m.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We certainly understand the concern that was outlined by the Select Committee and the noble Lord. However, I hope that I can reassure Members of the Committee that the amendment is not necessary, because the Bill already contains such a limitation.

Clause 12(3)(a) is supplementary to Clause 11. Although Clause 12(3)(a) does not itself contain the limitation, the exercise of the power for the purposes of Clause 11 will be limited by its subsection (1). That subsection provides specifically that:


    "The Lord Chancellor may by order make such provision as he considers necessary or expedient in consequence of, or in connection with, the inclusion of Gibraltar in an electoral region for the purposes of European Parliamentary elections".

Although Clause 12 is also supplementary to Clause 10, there will be no need to use the power in Clause 12(3)(a) to give effect to the purpose of Clause 10. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor said in responding to the letter of the noble Lord, Lord Norton, which was referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, that he had no intention of doing so.

I hope that that explanation and reassurance satisfies the concerns that have been expressed by means of the amendment.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page