International Criminal Court Bill [Lords]

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Mrs. Gillan: You may say that, but I should like to raise some matters on clause stand part, because clause 1 is the foundation stone of the legislation. As you rightly said, Mr. Cook, we have spent some time discussing the amendments to clause 1, but, because it is the substantial and defining clause for the remainder of the legislation, it was right to do so. Clause 1 defines the statute, which is the initiating document, and some of today's debates have already shown that there are imperfections, because of the nature of the document and the negotiation process. My amendments might have been imperfect, but the Minister makes my point for me, because in the amendment paper, we can see that he has already tabled an amendment—No. 27—to change clause 84 and delete a whole subsection. The continuing dialogue on the problems in the legislation is important.

In our informal discussions, I promised you, Mr. Cook, that I would raise a matter that came up in the Second Reading debates both in this House and in the other place. I hope that this is a suitable time to raise an inconsistency that the Minister might be able to clarify. On Second Reading, my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude), the shadow Foreign Secretary, said:

    ``I think I can take it from what the Foreign Secretary says that he proposes that the Government will not enter any declarations.''

The Foreign Secretary said:

    ``We have none in mind.''

My right hon. Friend replied:

    ``We can take that as a definitive statement that the Government expect the Rome statute to remain without reservations, which is effectively what declarations are.''—[Official Report, 3 April 2001; Vol. 366, c. 229.]

On this subject in the other place, the Attorney-General, Lord Williams of Mostyn, said:

    ``However, we would expect to make a small number of interpretative statements of the Rome Statute.''—[Official Report, House of Lords, 8 February 2001; Vol. 621, c. 1272.]

That is at the heart of clause 1.

My questions are simple. Those statements apparently conflict—although I am sure that the Minister will have a useful answer—but when is an interpretative statement a declaration or reservation? What exactly did the Foreign Secretary and Attorney-General mean? If we are to have interpretative statements on the Rome statute, why can we not consider them now, in connection with the Bill, because it deals with the Rome statute as defined in clause 1? If those statements are made in future, what legal status will they have? I am sorry if this is a case of deja vu of the proces-verbaux, but there appear to be two conflicting statements, one from each House, about the heart of the clause. I merely ask the Minister to clarify those for the Committee.

Mr. Battle: I am a little surprised, because I do not believe that there is any essential contradiction. In a sense, clause 1 simply spells out the fact that the Bill connects us to the statute, and I return to the comments made by the hon. and learned Member for Harborough. We are trying to define the relationship between the Bill and the statute. We cannot go back to rake over and unilaterally rewrite the Rome statute, which has been agreed internationally. That is not the purpose of the Bill; the purpose is to sign up to it.

The hon. Lady mentioned another amendment. She might know that amendment No. 27 is simply an amendment concerning privilege, which will remove the provision allowing for privilege that is inserted, as a regular constitutional arrangement, into all Bills originating from the House of Lords. It does not concern substantive policy questions. The hon. Lady has already tabled new clause 5, which deals with reservations and declarations, and I suggest that we have a full debate on such matters when we discuss that.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Mr. McNulty: I beg to move, That further consideration of the Bill be now adjourned. In doing so I wish you, Mr. Cook, and all present—except, of course, the Liberals, who could not be bothered to turn up—a happy Easter, a happy recess or whatever people want to call it.

Question put and agreed to.

        Adjourned accordingly at Eleven minutes past Five o'clock till Tuesday 24 April at half-past Ten o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Cook, Mr. Frank (Chairman)
Battle, Mr.
Blunt, Mr.
Browne, Mr.
Cranston, Mr.
Day, Mr.
Ellman, Mrs.
Fitzsimons, Lorna
Gapes, Mr.
Garnier, Mr.
Gillan, Mrs.
Hendrick, Mr.
King, Ms Oona
Lammy, Mr.
McNulty, Mr.
Naysmith, Dr.
Worthington, Mr.

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