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Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman that we are on Report, not in Committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. Jopling : I beg to move amendment No. 2, in page 6, line 19, after Protocol' insert
and to any measures for the implementation of the Protocol that have become effective by virtue of paragraph 4 of Article IX of the Antarctic Treaty'.
The House will recall that, in Committee, the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) tabled an amendment to clause 15 which would have required the Secretary of State to have regard to any guidelines or criteria that might be developed under the protocol. The problem with that amendment was that the Secretary of State would have been required to have regard to guidelines or criteria which might not have been accepted by the United Kingdom or by other parties to the protocol.
The Secretary of State should be required to have regard only to those instruments that have equivalent legal status to the protocol, by which I mean that they are binding on all parties to the protocol. A close examination of the protocol and its annexes reveals that the only such instruments are measures that have become effective by virtue of paragraph 4 of article IX of the Antarctic treaty. The House will remember that article 10(1)(b) of the protocol contains a general provision for such measures to be adopted for the implementation of the protocol. Article 6 of annexe V of the protocol provides also for management plans for Antarctic specially protected and managed areas to be approved by such measures. The measures become effective only--this is the key point--when, in accordance with paragraph 4 of article IX of the Antarctic treaty, they have been approved by all the Antarctic treaty consultative parties, all of whom will have to become parties to the protocol, as we have already discussed, before it enters into force.
The amendment reflects that situation. The Secretary of State would have to have regard to any measures adopted for the implementation of the protocol that have become effective. I hope that the hon. Member for Islington, North, who helpfully tabled an amendment in Committee allowing us to discuss the matter and to think about it again, will feel that we have gone some way to meeting his point and clarifying the position.
Mr. Corbyn : I understand the point. I tabled an amendment in Committee on the matter, and I would have been happier if it had been accepted then, although I understand that we are making progress on the point. Paragraph 4 of article IX of the 1959 Antarctic treaty says :
"The measure referred to in this article shall become effective when approved by all the contracting parties whose representatives are entitled to participate at the meetings held to consider these matters."
Article I refers to a meeting to be held in Canberra, Australia, within two months of December 1959, when the treaty was finally agreed. There were regular meetings thereafter. The treaty makes a number of points about the Antarctic being a peaceful place, about scientific research, about co- operation on research, about inspection, about jurisdiction in Antarctica and about the preservation and conservation of living resources. The amendment would ensure that paragraph 4 was carried out.
Column 587I do not follow the point made by the right hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling) when he said that measures that were not agreed to by the British Government would not be carried out, and that only those that were the subject of consensus would be carried out.
I thought that the whole treaty was based on consensus and that it therefore would not be possible for a protocol to be published in accordance with the treaty which did not have the consent of all the treaty partners. The question whether the British Government agreed with it all would be irrelevant, because clearly they must have agreed to it or it could not have become a protocol within the terms of the 1959 treaty.
Mr. Jopling : I hope that I can help the hon. Member by saying again that the measures become effective only when, in accordance with paragraph 4, they have been approved by all the Antarctic treaty consultative parties. Those are the same 26 parties, as I tried to explain, who all have to agree to the protocol before it becomes effective. I hope that they will all do so this year. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the reason why we are debating the Bill now is to allow Britain to ratify the protocol during 1994.
Mr. Corbyn : I understand that point. I hope that we shall ratify the protocol during 1994, and that the whole thing will be brought into operation. I shall return to that point on Third Reading. Amendment agreed to.
Mr. Jopling : I beg to move, amendment No. 3, in page 8, line 20, leave out first a fine' and insert
imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, to a fine or to both,'.
The House will recall that the hon. Member for Islington, North moved an amendment in Committee that would technically have provided for a term of imprisonment for an unlimited duration. However, he withdrew his amendment on my assurance that we would reconsider the matter of penalties. Several hon. Members in Committee supported the idea that the courts should have an option between a fine and imprisonment for offences under the Bill.
I am pleased to move the amendment, which I hope will meet with the approval of the House. It provides that, on conviction on indictment--that is, by a jury--the court can sentence the offender to a maximum of two years' imprisonment or to an unlimited fine or to both. However, imprisonment would not be available on a summary conviction.
Following consultations with the Home Office, the Department of the Environment and the Scottish Office, I have been led to conclude that those penalties are appropriate given the special situation of Antarctica, in particular its distance from the United Kingdom and the consequent difficulties of policing it, and the paramount need to protect its pristine ecological state and its priceless flora and fauna.
There seems to be no justification for providing for imprisonment on summary conviction. Imprisonment should be reserved for the worst examples of the offences
Column 588that merit trial by jury. I hope, as I am sure all hon. Members hope, that we shall not see offences of that magnitude or gravity. Although an unlimited fine on conviction on indictment will probably be sufficient in the most serious cases, it is possible to envisage cases in which a term of imprisonment is the only appropriate way to deal with the crime and to serve as a deterrent to others. The House is grateful to the hon. Member for Islington, North for raising the matter in Committee. I hope that he will feel that the amendment meets the point that he helpfully raised with us.
Mr. Corbyn : I do not normally favour a tough sentencing policy, because I do not believe that that necessarily solves the problems of crime. However, I recognise that a sentencing policy can be a deterrent. I moved my amendment in Committee because we are talking about potential breaches of the treaty and the law in relation to which oil and mineral companies may try to undertake illegal exploration for minerals on the continent. Clearly, the prizes of such activity are potentially enormous. Therefore, the deterrent effect of a fine--albeit an unlimited fine--would be small beer to a company. The possibility of imprisonment might concentrate the minds of the senior directors.
Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam) : While the hon. Gentleman quite rightly said that there may be a danger of illegal exploration for minerals, does he agree that pressure groups like Greenpeace might be in the same category if they were acting illegally in pursuance of their own aims ? Does he agree that those groups must recognise that they will be subject to the same disciplines ?
Mr. Corbyn : It is unfortunate to try to place Greenpeace in the same category as a mineral company. Greenpeace has rather different objectives, which I suggest are wholly more peaceful. The hon. Member for Sutton and Cheam (Lady Olga Maitland) has perhaps not followed these matters very closely. If she were to read the history of the subject, she would understand that Greenpeace campaigned for a permit system in the first place. Greenpeace suggested the amendment that I tabled in Committee about the imprisonment of offenders. Greenpeace wants to protect the Antarctic from forces that may wish to do it harm. I have no idea what illegal activities the hon. Lady suggests. I disagree with the amendment only in relation to the term of imprisonment. My amendment left it open to the courts to decide what the sentencing policy should be, the length and term of imprisonment and the prison venue. I have not said whether the prison should be in the Antarctic. It might be expensive to administer a prison in the Antarctic, but it is an interesting idea.
I merely question whether two years is appropriate, because we are talking about potentially serious damage. The reason why I say that it is serious is simple. For example, if a company started illegally exploring for oil, or, indeed, an oil spill took place from a vessel that was supporting exploration activities, the damage would be enormous. We are talking about a cold environment, slow biodegradation of oil or anything else that is spilt in the sea, and the danger of oil getting under the ice shelf. The dangers are enormous.
The distances are also enormous for any help to get there to assist with a clean-up operation or, indeed, an accident. Anyone who is considering illegal mining
Column 589activities or scientific activities in the Antarctic should get a severe warning from the Bill. That warning would be much better heeded if the prospect of managing directors and others going to prison is dealt with.
I want to make two brief points in addition to that. First, in Committee, the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) raised a number of interesting and important points about the applicability of Scottish law to the Antarctic, and whether English law would have supremacy over Scottish law in such matters, because Scottish law is not written on to the face of the Bill. At the end of the many discussions on that point, I was left with the impression that the Minister would reflect further on what the hon. Gentleman was promoting. Perhaps if the hon. Gentleman spoke on this amendment, he would be able to help us on the matter. I hope that, that important point will be dealt with.
Secondly, the Antarctic is in a strange legal position, in that it is a huge continent ; no one is permanently resident there. There are claims by a number of countries on the land mass of the Antarctic and the sea area. Most of the claims are overlapping and are, therefore, potentially in conflict. For example, Britain, Chile and Argentina all claim part of the continent. There is also a large unclaimed part of the continent. As a result, there is a legal minefield when prosecuting someone for illegal activities.
The right hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale correctly pointed out that when a non-signatory nation is involved in an illegal expedition, it is extremely difficult to pursue a prosecution against it. That is why it is important that the House not only passes the Bill into our national legislation but urges all the other 26 treaty nations to do the same. We need a United Nations statement of support for legislation, or much wider acceptance of the Madrid protocol by non-treaty nations. That is extremely important. Earlier, we talked about the merchant shipping industry and the way in which flags of convenience abuse shipping law around the world. One could have exactly the same situation in which explorations and investigations were carried out illegally by nationals from non-treaty nations, which effectively go beyond the arm of the law in that matter.
There is also a need for a diplomatic offensive by the treaty nations, once it has been agreed by national Parliaments, to ensure that the importance and effect of protecting the Antarctic environment is not undermined. The Madrid protocol was an enormous step forward, but it could easily be destroyed by illegal activities by non-signatory nations.
Mr. Jopling : I take the point of the hon. Member for Islington, North about the intricacies of Scottish and English law. I can only repeat what I said in Committee--I absolutely refuse to get into the detail of that matter. [Interruption.] The Minister is a lawyer, which I am not. He is much more capable of dealing with those points than I am.
With regard to the other matters raised by the hon. Gentleman, I take it that the general tone of what he said was that he welcomed the amendment. On that basis, I hope that the House will accept it.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory) : I shall be brief. In Committee, we discussed the question of Scottish law. I think that we can take it from the absence of the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), who raised the matter--he is probably in Orkney now--that he was satisfied with the answer that we were able to give him. The vacancies on the Liberal Democrat Benches today probably mean that the party is satisfied with the Bill in its entirety and does not wish to scrutinise it any further. I cannot speak for Liberal Democrats, but their absence must be trying to tell us something.
As regards the other matter that was raised quite fairly by the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn)--the more general issue of the enforcement of jurisdiction--I should like to return to that if I may in the slightly more general debate which we will have at Third Reading.
Mr. Corbyn : I would be the last person in the world to speak for the Liberal Democrats on this matter, and I would not want there to be any confusion in the House. I must say that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) was not happy when he talked to me after the Committee. There is a perfectly serious point to be made about the primacy of English or Scottish law, because, under the Act of Union between England and Scotland, there is supposed to be equality of provision in law between both countries.
The absence of a reference to Scottish law in this Bill seems to suggest either that Scottish law applies automatically, because it is not mentioned, or that it does not apply at all and that anyone who is found guilty of, or is charged with, a breach of the law in the Antarctic will therefore be tried under English law.
There are significant differences in representation and methods of court procedures between English and Scottish law. I should be grateful if the Minister could say whether--perhaps when the Bill goes to the Lords--the Law Officers would be able to give advice and some interpretation on the matter. The hon. Gentleman's point was not a narrow one. I understand that he has to be in Orkney today, and that is why he is not here.
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : We discussed the matter at some length in Committee and I am certainly satisfied that the Bill as it stands is satisfactory and has adequate precedents in other legislation. Exactly the same approach is adopted, for instance, in the Continental Shelf Act 1964, and I am not aware of difficulties that have arisen in implementing or enforcing that legislation.
Mr. Tom Clarke : Briefly on that point, I think that the House might have expected a little more detail from the Minister on the issue of Scottish law raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn). Incidentally, I think that the last time that an hon. Member from Islington interfered--if I may use that word--in Scottish affairs--a constitutional crisis erupted thereafter which has not been totally resolved.
If we are not able to clarify the matter during our proceedings, we would expect that, should the Bill go to another place, the Lord Chancellor--with his background--would perhaps produce a little more detail.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. Jopling : I beg to move amendment No. 4, in page 13, line 4 after modifications' insert (including additions or omissions)'. This, again, is a technical amendment, which I hope the House will believe strengthens the Bill. Clause 34(3)(c) provides that, in extending the provisions of the Bill to dependent territories, the Order in Council may modify those provisions. That will consist mostly in making minor adjustments to take account of the different constitutional and legal situations of the various territories. For instance, a reference to a Secretary of State is probably meaningless in the Isle of Man or the Channel islands, and would need to be changed in those cases to Governor. The amendment makes it clear that such changes can be made by adding or omitting provisions. It is a technical amendment, which I hope will receive the approval of the House.
Amendment agreed to.
Order for Third Reading read.
Mr. Jopling : I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
As a Back-Bench Member, it is a privilege to have the opportunity to guide such important legislation through the House. I think that I said on Second Reading that I had been lucky enough to draw a place in the ballot on two previous occasions which resulted in the enactment of two Bills : one in the 1960s that dealt with assistance to parish councils ; and, more recently, one dealing with children's seat belts. Important as those were, they were not as important as this Bill.
This is the first time that I have drawn a place in the first six in the ballot, so I am especially happy that such a worthwhile Bill will enable me to complete a hat trick of getting private Member's Bills on to the statute book. I have enjoyed the experience enormously and I am grateful to hon. Members on both sides of the House who have expressed keen enthusiasm for the Bill.
I am especially grateful to the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) who contributed so much. I must also mention the extremely distinguished Members from both sides of the House who were kind enough to sponsor the Bill. I suspect that it is a long time since a private Member's Bill received such distinguished support. I must also express my gratitude to the Foreign Office and especially to the officials who worked exceptionally hard. As the hon. Member for Islington, North said, some of them are in Japan for important meetings dealing with Antarctic matters. They have been a splendid team and could not have given me more help and support. Our discussions during the passage of the Bill have shown that no Member of the House has, or pretends to have, a monopoly of concern for the Antarctic environment. I have been impressed by the desire of hon. Members on both sides to protect that unique area of the world. Our role is to discover how best to achieve that aim and there are many ways of doing so.
I was very saddened to see a pathetic space filler in this morning's edition of The Independent written by a Mr. Wilkie. It seems to be a cheap and snide way of attacking the royal family under the guise of the most helpful support
Column 592that the Princess Royal has given to try to preserve the heritage of the Antarctic continent in various ways. I hope that we shall be spared other weasely articles of that sort.
For this country and its citizens, the enactment of the Bill will secure necessary legal protection and it will allow the United Kingdom to ratify the environment protocol to the Antarctic treaty which, as hon. Members know, provides a comprehensive international framework for protecting the Antarctic environment.
The protocol cannot enter into force until it has been ratified by all 26 Antarctic treaty consultative parties. So far, I understand that six have ratified and that most of the others intend to do so by the end of this year. If the Bill is enacted by the summer, this country should be able to ratify by the end of the year and I think that everyone in the House hopes that that will happen.
The advantage of getting the Bill through all its stages today is that their Lordships, many of whom will have a strong interest in it, will have the proper amount of time to discuss and examine it. I am pleased that my noble Friend Lord Montgomery of Alamein will look after the Bill when it arrives in another place.
I hope that we shall ratify the Bill before the end of the year. The United Kingdom was instrumental in introducing the protocol and we should not lag behind others in the process of ratifying. Timely ratification would send a clear signal from this country of our manifest concern for the Antarctic environment. It would demonstrate, as nothing else could, the United Kingdom's continuing commitment to the protection of the Antarctic environment and to the Antarctic treaty system.
Our thorough debates on Second Reading, in Committee and again today have provided considerable opportunity for all of us to debate the Bill. I hope that the amendments that have just been accepted on Report meet most of the concerns of hon. Members and that, once they have had time to reflect, hon. Members will agree that the provisions of the Bill now represent the best means of providing the necessary legal powers to protect Antarctica.
On that note, and expressing once more my thanks to all concerned, I hope that the Bill will be given a Third Reading.
Mr. Tom Clarke : I congratulate the right hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling) on a remarkable achievement. He referred to his hat trick. As one who, almost eight years ago to the day, had my own Bill receive its Third Reading, I realise that those matters depend very much on luck, but the right hon. Gentleman has displayed a commitment and an ability that say much for him. My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) has also made a substantial contribution to the Bill, and we thank him warmly for his part.
When I referred earlier to the role of a former Islington Member, it was, of course, in a jocular sense--perhaps heavily disguised. But I notice that Islington has not made the mistake of electing a Scottish Member since that time.
Mr. Corbyn : I must defend Islington's history on that matter. The former Member for Islington, South, George Cunningham, was Scottish and the current Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) was born and brought up in Scotland.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. A former Member for Islington, East was Chairman of Ways and Means, so I hope that the hon. Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke) will tread carefully in that area.
Mr. Clarke : I am sure that the House deeply appreciates the tremendous contribution that Islington continues to make--and in climbing the Munros.
The Opposition have said that we support the Bill. Indeed, some of my hon. Friends, including my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith), who is very much involved in the environmental matters to which the right hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale referred, have sponsored the Bill.
The Bill calls for the highest degree of environmental protection for the Antarctic. The Madrid protocol, which has been waiting for ratification since 1991, deserves that and the Bill takes it a step forward. It reflects the manifest consensus and all-party agreement that has been achieved. I would not chide, as the Minister did, the Liberal Democrats for not being present. In fairness, there are not many of them. If one has a constituency as far north as Orkney, it is not easy to be here, so the Minister would be mistaken to read too much into the absence of that hon. Member.
The Labour party is concerned that we should not encourage exploitation of commercial interests in that area. We have consistently supported the need for the protection of Antarctica as a world wilderness park. We welcome the fact that the Bill makes mineral exploitation and mineral resource activities impossible in that place.
In earlier days, the Government--who seem to have given the Bill a fair wind--were sceptical about the role of Australia and France. They seem to be catching up. The representations that we have all received from our constituents, especially younger constituents, on those matters are a sign that the Government are catching up with public opinion and I am glad that that is happening.
There are problems in respect of the United Nations and the role that some people there see for themselves. That debate should continue and we should encourage nations that are not involved in the treaty and the concord to accept that they also have an important role.
My hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead, East (Ms Quin), when she spoke on Second Reading, asked the Government how they envisaged the development of the secretarial arrangements and I should be grateful if the Minister would give the House more information about that if he is able to do so.
Following the discussions in Rio, the GATT agreement, and the strong representations about the environment from Opposition Members, we should like the Bill to be speedily implemented. We hope that the Government will ensure that the important scrutiny in another place does not delay implementation. In that spirit, I again congratulate the right hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale, my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North and everyone responsible for the Bill, and look forward to Royal Assent as soon as possible.
Mr. Hugh Dykes (Harrow, East) : My intervention on Third Reading will be brief because I have not participated in debates hitherto and I should not like to irritate anyone in the House unnecessarily.
Column 594I have followed the Bill's progress since it began, and I add my words of thanks and congratulations to my right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling) for the work that he and other people have done in bringing the Bill to Third Reading and, I hope, to a successful conclusion. I hope that, anticipating its future return from another place, the Bill will complete its stages. It is a very important piece of legislation.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale referred correctly to his successful record, which might be ascribed to fortuity, but also to his skill in drawing the right number in the ballot. Over the years, he has completed what he called his hat trick. That makes me jealous when I think that my last private Member's Bill was quite a few years ago, but at least for a while it was called an Act under one's own name, which is rather a nice thing to do, and other Members have achieved that over the years. If the Bill is called "the Jopling Act" when it completes all its stages, as I hope, would be an even better expression of the achievement of my right hon. Friend.
Over the years, we have had many conversations and discussions together. I have always regarded my right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale as a very fair person in the political cockpit, and his objective fairness in the Bill has helped it to gain the support that it now receives from all parts of the House. I heard many hon. Members who were involved in Committee--I was not--commenting on the skilful way in which my right hon. Friend handled the Bill in Committee.
The Bill is legislation dealing with treaty co-operation, which is a wonderful example of international co-operation. It is still in its early stages because we think of that legislation as being for centuries ahead rather than decades, and perhaps there will be further measures in due course. Therefore, I am also delighted that the Minister of State at the Foreign Office, the hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Heathcoat-Amory), is present to complete Third Reading on behalf of the Government, as he has been on previous stages, showing that the measured incidence of true balanced international co-operation, and all countries working together, rather than one country seeking to gain and score points over other countries, is an example and a lesson not only for the European Union, but for that vital part of the planet. I am sure that that is of special interest to my hon. Friend the Minister of State.
In conclusion, in commending Third Reading and hoping that it will be supported by all parts of the House, I shall refer briefly to a specific, but very important matter. I hope that the Minister of State, and perhaps also my right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale if he decides that he wishes to intervene again on Third Reading, will refer to it.
There are anxieties for the future, rather than now, about the control and development of tourism in the area covered by the Bill and the international treaties governing it. The controls seem adequate now and penetration by conventional tourism is extremely primitive and limited, and involves a handful of people--certainly it has not reached levels that would cause alarm. But there is worldwide anxiety among the people who follow the subject closely--experts who represent the industry as well as decent people who represent the global environmental interests of the planet. They are anxious that, although there has been virtually no exploitation in terms of tourism, the area could be threatened in future. I am not saying that it will happen in the foreseeable future. The controls appear
Column 595to be stringent. The penalties in the legislation would apply not simply to mineral and exploration companies, but to other human commercial activities.
However, the planet is small in the sense that the tourist industry is now virtually everywhere. Everyone complains about the despoliation of coastlines.
Lady Olga Maitland : Will my hon. Friend give way ?
Mr. Dykes : I shall not give way as I wish to be brief. I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me. Perhaps she will catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
In all other areas of the world, such exploitation has reached a high level, and there is even plundering. There is certainly excessive exploitation. I am not straying out of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in case you are looking ominously at me. I hope that Antarctica will be spared such exploitation. There is every reason to assume that it will be, provided that intergovernmental controls and international co-operation are adequate for the future. Therefore, if my hon. Friend the Minister can reassure hon. Members, as he did successfully in Committee, I and, I think, listeners and viewers, will be grateful to him.
Mr. Corbyn : I thank the right hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling) and congratulate him on having had the good fortune to come in the first six in the ballot for private Members' Bills. I have not yet been drawn in the first 60, so I do not know how he succeeds-- perhaps he will let me know.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for choosing the subject. It is extremely important to enact the Bill. At the beginning of the Committee stage, we placed on record the fact that we should have preferred it to be a Government Bill, but we now have a Bill which has passed through Committee, which is extremely important. The subject of the Antarctic is hardly ever likely to grab all the headlines in this country, but the Bill is an important piece of legislation.
The Antarctic is an extremely important place. It is the only part of the world in relatively pristine condition. It is the only part of the world to be the subject of a treaty, the opening lines of which state that the Antarctic shall henceforth be a place of peace. That treaty was drawn up in 1959 at the height of the cold war. It is the only place where we can look at what we are doing to the planet. We can study what we are doing to the air and the sea, and the of pollution that we are putting into the air. Therefore, it is an important centre of research.
To achieve those goals, we need legislation--through national Parliaments, international agreement and constant monitoring. The passing of treaties, protocols and conventions is all very well in the rarefied atmospheres around beige tables in expensive hotels in faraway places, but what matters is what happens on the ground. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world has the same benign attitude towards the Antarctic as many of us who are speaking in today's debate.
As I understand it, ratification has been achieved in Australia--just last week--and in Argentina, Peru, Equador, Spain, France and Norway, which is important. It is also important that the Bill is now enacted. I expressed misgivings about some sections of the Bill on Second Reading and in Committee, and I hope that those matters will be further considered in the House of Lords. I
Column 596mentioned the permit system and its publication. I hope that, even at this stage, the Minister will reflect again on the issue of delegated powers being given to the British Antarctic Survey so that it is able to be judge and jury of its own permits in a limited sphere. I hope that he will also reflect on the current lack of clarity. Perhaps he will tell us about the type of appeals that will be used for those who have been refused a permit. How will he monitor the permits system ? It must be effective to ensure that the importance of Madrid is not left behind.
Just this morning, I looked at the report of the 1989 discussions on Antarctica and realised how far we have moved. In 1989, we discussed the measure that subsequently became the Antarctic Minerals Act 1989. That measure would have allowed mining exploration in the Antarctic and it is a tribute to campaigners all over the world that we are now discussing the long-term preservation of that continent and the prevention of mining exploration and exploitation there. I hope that the Minister will give us some idea of when he expects the Bill to be given Royal Assent. We also need to know the date of implementation. I understand that the Minister hopes that it will be implemented fairly soon. I hope that that is true so that we can join that growing band of nations that approve of such legislation. The current Kyoto conference is part of a process on the Antarctic and involves Governments and non-governmental organisations. We need to know the attitude that the Government will adopt at that conference and when we shall receive a statement and report. The lack of inclusion in the Bill of the deep sea bed is unfortunate. We must ensure
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. We are on Third Reading and hon. Members must not refer to matters that are not in the Bill.
Mr. Corbyn : Would I be in order if I referred with pleasure to the fact that the sea is included in the Bill, but that what lies under it is not, and do not use the words that you do not want me to use, Mr. Deputy Speaker ?
Mr. Deputy Speaker : The hon. Gentleman has had a warning from the Chair and he must proceed as he judges appropriate. I shall rule accordingly.