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Lord Addington: We on these Benches do not have any objection to the order itself. The idea of the modernising and simplification of the system is one that is always to be applauded, at least in principle. How often we achieve that when we go for new legislation is something on which I am afraid that history will judge us. Bringing all the Armed Forces into one series of law should help.
I have to agree with the noble Lord that, if we had the draft regulations or the draft Bill in front of us, that would probably help long term, as this is basically an
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uncontroversial matter. The quicker the information can be got out, the less worry there will be. There will probably be a lesser deluge of amendments as well, because if people do not get worried, lobby groups do not draft amendments.
Baroness Crawley: I thank the noble Lords, Lord Astor of Hever and Lord Addington, for their comments and support in principle for this statutory instrument. I shall respond to the points raised by both of themthey were well madeon why we have not published the Bill in draft. The Bill will be long and, in part, complex. Many of the elements interrelate. We are determined to get it right, and it is taking time. We recognise the sense of frustration of Members of the Committee, and for that reason my noble friend Lord Drayson is making efforts to keep noble Lords informed about the detail of our proposals through briefings, one of which they will know takes place next week. I am happy to talk to noble Lords outside this debate about the details of that briefing. We have of course kept internal stakeholdersvarious sections of the MoDconstantly in touch with the Bill as it is being drafted.
The noble Lord, Lord Astor, asked me about proposals for successor legislation. In the recent report, the Defence Committee saw merit in a formal renewal arrangement. Regular renewal of service law ensures that the legislation is kept up to date, as well as fulfilling the constitutional requirement of the Bill of Rights on the maintenance of a standing army. We would not change those arrangements lightly, but have not reached a settled view on the issue. He also asked about proposals for handling of the Bill in Parliament. Again, that is a matter on which we have yet to take a final view. It will of course be for discussion through the usual channels.
Both noble Lords touched on the famous "modernisation". In the sense that we are talking about it this afternoon, we see modernisation as the fact that we have been renewing the offences unique to service life, to see whether they remain necessary or relevant. Some of them go back hundreds of years. We have also used more modern language to make the meaning of the offence clear. The noble Lord, Lord Astor, asked about modernisation so far as the complaints procedure might be covered. Service personnel have a statutory right to make complaints about any matter in which they think themselves wronged. We shall continue that right, but our proposals on redress of complaints will be aimed at a more speedy resolution. It is modernisation in that sense. I reassure the Committee that the commanding officer will remain the initial point for that part of any resolution of a complaint.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon rose to move, That the Grand Committee do report to the House that it has considered the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2005.
The noble Baroness said: The order was laid before the House on 30 June 2005, together with an explanatory memorandum now required for all affirmative statutory instruments. It is required to enable the Government to ratify the agreement on the privileges and immunities of the International Tribunal for the law of the Sea, which was opened for signature in New York on 1 July 1997 and signed by the United Kingdom on 24 August that same year.
The International Organisations Act 2005 allowed for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Seathe tribunalto be treated for the purposes of Section 1 of the International Organisations Act 1968 as an organisation of which the UK and other sovereign governments are members. Prior to that it had only been possible to confer privileges and immunities on the members of the tribunal and limited privileges and immunities on the registrar of the tribunal under Section 5 of the International Organisations Act 1968. That was done by the first International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Immunities and Privileges) Order 1996. This second order confers legal capacity on the organisation itself as well as extending immunities and privileges to various other categories of persons employed by, and connected with it. It revokes the 1996 order.
The tribunal was established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the SeaUNCLOSbut it did not come into existence until the entry into force of UNCLOS on 16 October 1994. After the election of the first judges, the tribunal took its seat in Hamburg on 1 October 1996. It is an international court and has jurisdiction to hear disputes submitted to it in accordance with UNCLOS and all matters specifically provided for in any other agreement which confers jurisdiction on it. Funding is through a budget adopted annually by the Meeting of States Parties to UNCLOS, on the basis of budget proposals submitted by the tribunal. The states parties to the tribunal pay contributions based on the scale of assessments of the budget of the UN adjusted to take into account participation in UNCLOS. The 2004 budget was set at $8,039,000 with the UK contributing £373,320.
I am satisfied that the order is compatible with the rights in the European Convention on Human Rights. This order is important but I trust non-controversial. I hope that it will receive your Lordships' full support.
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Lord Glentoran: I thank the noble Baroness for bringing the order before the Grand Committee; I am a commissioner for the Irish lighthouse service and have some knowledge of these affairs. I sincerely hope that this statutory instrument and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea will lead to improved management of legislation of the sea, which badly needs improvement on a worldwide basis. There is still far too much piracy, robbery and misuse of ships at sea. Anything that can be done by the Western nations as a whole to improve safetyand by "safety" I do not mean life saving but safety of assets at seashould be done.
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Rooker) rose to move, That the Grand Committee do report to the House that it has considered the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act (Code of Practice) (Northern Ireland) Order 2005.
The noble Lord said: A copy of the order was laid before the House on 23 June, and this is an opportunity to put the Government's legislative proposal before the Grand Committee. The order brings into operation a new code of practice under Section 23 of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996. It is intended to come into force on 15 July this year. The code of practice has also been laid before each House, in accordance with the statutory requirements.
The code of practice will ensure the effective implementation of Part 5 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which makes significant changes to the present scheme of pre-trial disclosure in criminal proceedings. As I said, it is proposed that the code will be brought into force on 15 July, the same time as Part 5 of the Criminal Justice Act. The present debate forms an important part of the implementation procedure. A broadly similar code, a revised code of practice, was designed for England and Wales. It came into force on 4 April this year, following an affirmative resolution in both Houses. That was at the time that Part 5 of the Criminal Justice Act came into force in England and Wales.
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One of the most important changes that Part 5 makes to the present disclosure system is to replace the different prosecution tests that apply before and after a defence statement has been lodged with the court and prosecutor. At present, the prosecution applies one test when it discloses unused material to the defence before a defence statement is lodged and a different test after the defence statement has been lodged. The Criminal Justice Act abolishes those primary and secondary disclosure tests and creates a single prosecution disclosure test that will apply throughout. As a result of that change, it is necessary to change the terminology of the code of practice.
The opportunity has also been taken to make several essentially technical amendments to the code. They include amendment of the wording used in contexts where sensitive or public interest immunity material is discussed. It is now some years since the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act replaced the old common law disclosure arrangements, and practitioners have since amassed considerable expertise and experience in its operation. The Government considered therefore other amendments that might usefully be made in the revised code of practice, bearing in mind any constraints imposed by the enabling powers.
I shall say a little to the Committee about those changes. They have been discussed extensively, and the Committee will be aware that they have been the subject of a public consultation exercise. First, paragraph 3(1)(a) explicitly allows for the appointment of deputy disclosure officers, whereas the present code assumes that there will be only a single disclosure officer in a case. Secondly, paragraph 5(1) will enable material to be retained in the form of a copy, rather than an original, when that is reasonable in all circumstances. The copying and disposal of an original may take place at any time before or after conviction. In addition, paragraph 6(4) of the code makes disclosure officers pay particular attention to the need to schedule sensitive material. It now requires them to complete a schedule of sensitive material, even if only to indicate that there is no such material.
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