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Lord Goodhart moved Amendment No. 17:

The noble Lord said: In speaking to Amendment No. 17, I propose also to speak to Amendment No. 18.

The amendments would amend Clause 16, which is consequential on Clauses 14 and 15. Clause 14 provides for the entitlement to vote in a European election in Gibraltar. Clause 15 provides for the entitlement to be entered on the register of voters.

Clause 16(1)(d) gives power for the Lord Chancellor, by regulations, to prescribe the circumstances in which a person is legally incapable of voting in Gibraltar at a European parliamentary election. Clause 16(1)(g) gives power for the Lord Chancellor to impose a disqualification for registration in Gibraltar as a European parliamentary elector. In other words, Clause 16 gives power to deny registration to someone who would otherwise be entitled to register under Clause 15 and denies the right to vote to anyone who would otherwise be entitled to vote under Clause 14.

In its 11th report, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee asked whether powers under paragraphs (d) and (g) of Clause 16(1) were proper for delegation at all. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor replied to the committee's query in a letter set out in Annex 4 to the 12th report. The reply is long but can be summarised by saying that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor pointed out as a precedent that legislation in the United Kingdom provides for secondary legislation to extend to European parliamentary elections disqualifications for voting or registration provided by other statutes for other elections.

The committee remained unsatisfied by that reply and pointed out that for European parliamentary elections in the United Kingdom the main provisions for disqualification were set out on the face of statutes and that Clause 16 was not limited to making provision for Gibraltar which corresponded to that for the United Kingdom.

The Government have accepted the committee's recommendation that any orders under any provision of Clause 16 should be made by the affirmative procedure. But I believe there is force in the argument

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that paragraphs (d) and (g) should be deleted and replaced either by a disqualification set out on the face of the Bill or by a restriction to a provision corresponding to that for the United Kingdom.

The amendment does not seek to replace the wording of paragraphs (d) or (g) because, at this stage, no vote is possible. We tabled the amendment in this incomplete form so that we could hear the Government's response on the point of principle. I beg to move.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: I understand, of course, that Amendments Nos. 17 and 18 are probing in nature, and I shall try to give as full a response as I can to enable the noble Lord to consider whether the Government have satisfied the concerns that he has raised.

Clause 16 enables regulations to be made supplementary to Clauses 13 to 15. The aim is that that provision will substantially correspond, so far as possible, to provision relating to European parliamentary elections under existing UK law, which will apply for the purposes of Gibraltar.

Clause 16 therefore provides for regulations which will supplement the core principles set out in those clauses by mirroring detailed UK provision, adapted as necessary to take into account the particular circumstances of Gibraltar. The issues that will need to be addressed by Clause 16 are matters dealt with in UK law by primary and secondary legislation, much of which is applied indirectly in the case of European parliamentary elections by virtue of the fact that the franchise for European parliamentary elections is derived principally from the parliamentary franchise. As a result, these regulations will need to cover issues addressed by a large amount of legislation that is not set out in the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 and regulations made under that Act. For Gibraltar's purposes it has been necessary to establish a separate franchise which of course cannot depend on the parliamentary franchise.

That means that all that primary and secondary legislation will need to be expressly dealt with under this Bill, and adapted where necessary to take account of the particular circumstances of Gibraltar, which can be done only after detailed consultation with the Government of Gibraltar. That would all of course mean that to try to divide up the issues dealt with under Clause 16 into matters which are dealt with extensively by primary legislation and secondary legislation in the UK, and then replicate the provisions of primary legislation with appropriate adaptations on the face of the Bill, would substantially compromise the timetable where our aim is to have the relevant measures in place in good time for the June 2004 elections. That will include, among other things, a canvass of Gibraltar electors in October 2003 by the electoral registration officer for Gibraltar in order to set up the Gibraltar register. Clearly, that means that the Bill and the relevant secondary legislation made under it will have to be in place by the end of the summer.

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Therefore, the nature of the Bill is such that the powers under it should be used as far as possible to provide for European electoral law applicable in Gibraltar substantially corresponding to that in the UK. That is effectively an implied limitation, leaving little scope to do otherwise. For that reason also, the matters addressed are more suited for delegated legislation than perhaps some of the original powers which they are intended to mirror.

Accordingly, the Government's view is that these matters are suitable to be dealt with under delegated legislation and indeed it would not be feasible to attempt to do otherwise. However, Parliament will have the reassurance that it will be subject to an appropriate level of parliamentary scrutiny by way of the affirmative resolution procedure. We hope that that reassurance will suffice.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Goodhart: I am grateful to the Minister. She has not been quite as persuasive as she was in the case of Amendment No. 11. I take her point that for various reasons, including time, it may be desirable to deal with this matter by secondary legislation, rather than by a mixture of primary and secondary, which applies in the United Kingdom. However, I shall need to consider further whether I wish to bring the matter back on Report to try to include a restriction of the kind proposed by the Delegated Powers Committee; namely, a restriction to provision corresponding to that for the United Kingdom. For the time being, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 18 not moved.]

Clause 16 agreed to.

Clause 17 [Section 16: supplementary]:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 19:

    Page 9, line 25, leave out subsection (4) and insert—

"(4) Such regulations may not be made unless a draft of the regulations has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.
(5) Subsection (4) does not apply to any regulations if it appears to the Lord Chancellor that by reason of urgency the regulations should be made without being approved in draft.
(6) Where regulations are made without being approved in draft, by virtue of subsection (5)—
(a) the regulations must be laid before Parliament after being made; and
(b) if the regulations are not approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament within the period of 40 days after the date on which it is made, the regulations shall cease to have effect at the end of that period."

The noble Baroness said: I spoke to Amendment No. 19 with Amendment No. 12. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 20 not moved.]

Clause 17, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 18 agreed to.

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Clause 19 [Returning officers]:

Baroness Scotland of Asthal moved Amendment No. 21:

    Page 10, line 7, leave out subsection (4) and insert—

"(4) In subsection (7) for the words from "the council" to "must" there is substituted—
(a) in the case of an electoral region other than the combined region, the council of a relevant area falling wholly or partly within that region; and
(b) in the case of the combined region, the council of a relevant area falling wholly or partly within that region and the Government of Gibraltar,

The noble Baroness said: Amendment No. 21 is of a fairly technical nature. Therefore, it is worth my outlining briefly the purpose of the provision as a whole in Clause 19.

Clause 19 provides for the returning officer for the Gibraltar part of the combined electoral region. In Gibraltar, the local returning officer will be the Gibraltar European Parliament electoral registration officer provided for—as we have already discussed today—under Clause 13. In the United Kingdom the local returning officer is usually a parliamentary acting returning officer, who is also usually the electoral registration officer for the local authority in which the constituency is situated. In the UK, Section 6(7) of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 requires the local authority of the relevant area to place the services of its officers at the disposal of the returning officer.

Clause 19(4) is intended to make similar provision to that in the 2002 Act so that the Government of Gibraltar place the services of their officers at the disposal of the Gibraltar local returning officer. It has been pointed out, however, that in its drafting subsection (4) as it stands fails to distinguish appropriately between the status of Gibraltar and that of a local authority.

Amendment No. 21 remedies that situation, without altering the effect of the provision, and I commend it warmly to the Committee. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 19, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 20 [Disqualification from office of MEP]:

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