|International Criminal Court Bill [Lords]
The Chairman: Order. I will not be distracted by hon. Members of whatever status standing up, opening bottles of water, and wandering around the Committee, as has been happening today. Can we introduce some real discipline into the Committee and behave in accordance with normal practice?
Do I take it that the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham wants a debate on clause 3 stand part?
Mrs. Gillan: Yes, Mr. Cook, I would.
The Chairman: I advise the hon. Lady that we had a lengthy discussion on the clause led by the hon. and learned Member for Harborough when considering amendments Nos. 17, 18, 19 and 21. If I hear any repetition at all, I shall call an abrupt halt to the debate.
Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.
Mrs. Gillan: Thank you for permitting a debate on clause 3 stand part, Mr. Cook. I seek some clarification because of the history of the clause.
Amendments to the clause were tabled by the Government in another place, and this is the first opportunity that we have had to debate the clause since those amendments were made. I seek clarification from the Minister about the letter dated 5 March about the Government amendments, sent by Baroness Scotland to Lord Lester of Herne Hill. Although the Government tabled amendments to several clauses on Report in another place, it will be useful to refer to the amendments to clause 3.
During the Committee stage, the Government accepted the amendmentI believe that it was amendment No. 12tabled by the Opposition on the request of the Law Society of Scotland. That means that those Conservative Mems who have sought to scrutinise the Bill constructively have made a contribution to its improvement. Despite the consultation process to which the Bill was subject, it was not until Report stage in another place that the Government decided that they needed to table the amendments. The amendments have improved the Bill, and it is good to see that certain disparities between the procedures for applying for a provisional warrant in Scotland and those in England and Wales have been dealt with. Following further consideration by the Scottish Executive
Mr. Browne: Before the hon. Lady goes any further, I assure her that I have had recent and detailed conversations with the Law Society of Scotland. We are now satisfied that the Government have responded to all the concerns about the Bill voiced by the legal profession in Scotland, and that the Bill is in an appropriate state to reflect the requirements of devolution.
Mrs. Gillan: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who now appears to speaking for those sitting on the Front Benchmay he soon be promoted. I am sure that that we all look forward to that. Unfortunately, reassurances are required from Ministers and from the Government, not from humble Back Benchers, however eminent in the law they may be.
The question is simple. The original motivation behind the amendment, as Ministers know, was to correct the anomalies between the position in England and Wales and the position in Scotland. I seek an assurancethe hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudoun got ahead of methat the legislation is definitely free of such anomalies.
There is a further pertinent point. I am raising the matter on clause 3 stand part because of the history of the clause. The Scottish Parliament is not considering the Bill until long after this House has done so. I think that I am correctthe Minister will tell methat although the Bill has already been presented to the Scottish Parliament, it will not consider it for several weeks. What would happen if any further anomalies came to light during the passage of the Bill? For example, what would happen if any changes were made to the Scottish legislation during its passage through the Scottish Parliament? What would be the implications for the UK statute? What remedying devices exist and what if there was a gap between the two statutes? I accept that that is hypothetical, but the situation is unusual, and, as we have established, the legislation will be in place for decades to come.
I understood that, under devolution, the Scottish Parliament did not take the lead in matters of foreign affairs. However, it is not crystal clear which body takes precedence. Through the device of clause 3 stand part, Mr. Cook, far from trying to annoy you or get up your nose in any way, I seek clarification from the Minister. He is at least nodding and smiling at me, which is more than some people are doingI do appreciate that. There may be implications for the Bill and it is right and proper that we ask these questions now. I hope that the Minister can throw light on the matter.
The Solicitor-General (Mr. Ross Cranston): I have three brief points. First, it is true that in the other place the Opposition tabled amendments at the suggestion of the Law Society for Scotland. I do not criticise them for doing that. We took those amendments on board and reworded them, and the Law Society of Scotland is now happy with the drafting of the clause. It simply brings the procedure in Scotland into line with that in England and Wales.
Secondly, on the correspondence between provisions here and in Scotland, I am sure that the hon. Lady is aware of clause 80, which states expressly that if necessary the Secretary of State can make regulations to bring the provisions into line, so that the provisions of the Act that the Bill will become are co-ordinated with the provisions of any corresponding Act of the Scottish Parliament.
Thirdly, the Scottish Executive is entirely content with the Bill as it now stands, and the Scottish Bill will have no direct impact on this part of the Bill.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause 3 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
Clause 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
|©Parliamentary copyright 2001||Prepared 26 April 2001|