26 FEBRUARY 2003
By the Select Committee appointed to examine the
constitutional implications of all public bills coming before
the House; and to keep under review the operation of the constitution.
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT (REPRESENTATION) BILL
1. A bill has been introduced into this house
to make provision enabling alterations to be made to the total
number of Members of the European Parliament to be elected for
the United Kingdom and to their distribution between the electoral
regions; to make provision for and in connection with the establishment
of an electoral region including Gibraltar for the purposes of
European Parliamentary elections; and for connected purposes.
The European Parliament (Representation) Bill was brought from
the House of Commons on 4th February 2003 (HL Bill 29), and received
its second reading in the House of Lords on 20th February.
2. We considered that the bill raised significant
constitutional issues, both in relation to elections to the European
Parliament, and also in relation to the novel provisions which
will allow Gibraltarians to vote in UK elections. We therefore
wrote to the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Irvine of Lairg, the Minister
in charge of the bill, requesting further clarification on matters
principally relating to the powers of the Lord Chancellor to make
Orders under the bill, and his duty to consult before making such
Orders (see Appendix 1).
3. We are grateful for the Lord Chancellor's
comprehensive and swift response (see Appendix 2). We are
also grateful to Roger Creedon, Chief Executive of the Electoral
Commission, who we asked to comment on the Lord Chancellor's reply
(see Appendix 3).
4. The Lord Chancellor's explanation for the
power under Clause 12(3)(a), to create powers to make subordinate
legislation, is that it "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".
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
5. We draw this, and the other matters raised
in our letter to the Lord Chancellor, to the attention of the
House, as raising questions of principle about principal parts
of the constitution.