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The Lord Chancellor: I shall certainly go so far as to say that I shall reflect further on what the noble and learned Lord has said. But what I said is perfectly clear. The judge's office as a High Court judge will continue but he will not receive the remuneration associated with that office while he is not carrying out the duties of that office. The office will continue but he will not be entitled to the remuneration of that office precisely because he will not be rendering the services which are the quid pro quo for the salary.

He will be choosing to following that course by entering into an agreement in terms of the conditions of service in Strasbourg which are clearly set out in a resolution of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. That is a public document and the salary which he will in fact receive, tax free of the equivalent of £114,000 per year at current exchange rates is what the salary will be.

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As to the pension implications, I have said to the noble and learned Lord that I shall be considering those and I am in the course of doing so. But I am not in a position to say anything further now.

Lord Ackner: I still do not understand why it is so repugnant to my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor to say that the judge will not receive less than he obtains from his current office. That is clearly what the noble and learned Lord expects to be the case but he will not bring himself to enunciate that fact. Perhaps Pepper v. Hart is worrying him, I know not. But he has agreed to reflect on my submissions and I am content that that will occur. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 98 not moved.]

Clause 18 agreed to.

Clause 19 [Statements of compatibility]:

[Amendment No. 99 not moved.]

Baroness Williams of Crosby moved Amendment No. 100:

Page 10, line 38, leave out ("to the effect that") and insert ("giving the reasons why").

The noble Baroness said: I can move this amendment briefly. I congratulate the Government on, in this particular case, requiring that a statement be made when new legislation is put forward. We see that desirable word "must" in the drafting of Clause 19. On these Benches, we are extremely pleased to see that.

I must say that a moment of inappropriate merriment overtook me when I looked at the original drafting of Clause 19, which refers to the Minister of the Crown making statements,

    "to the effect that in his view the provisions of the Bill are compatible with the Convention rights".

My mind went back to a number of Ministers, somewhat unclear about what they were doing, who did indeed rather vaguely wave their hands in the air and make statements to the effect of this or that with no great precision, no great clarity and no great helpfulness to the House.

Therefore, from these Benches, we propose Amendments Nos. 100 and 102 in an attempt to persuade the Minister to be rather more clear as to what he says in his statement. We wish him to give the reasons for his statement of compatibility or non-compatibility as the case may be.

In doing so, we reflect recent recommendations stemming back as far as the Franks Committee of 1957 and the Justice All Souls Report under the distinguished chairmanship of Sir Patrick Neill, both of which strongly recommended the advantages of giving reasons in the making of law and in the administration of law.

Therefore, it seems to us that the amendments which we are here proposing and in the current mellow and friendly mood of the noble and learned Lord and his noble colleague, we hope that they will readily concede this, because it is simply a recognition that Ministers of

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the Crown are capable of clarity and I have no doubt that Ministers of this particular Government are more than capable of clarity.

Finally, I argue that the amendment has the great advantage of obliging the Minister to think through the statement he makes because he must give his reasons and answer to them. From these Benches, we commend the amendments to the Government. I beg to move.

The Lord Chancellor: The Committee will appreciate that this Bill could have gone through without any Clause 19 at all. In its present form, Clause 19 is a demonstration of the Government's commitment to human rights. I appreciate that the amendment provides that a statement is not enough and it must be a statement backed by reasons. I shall address that on its merits but I suggest that Clause 19 in itself is a very large gesture, as well as being a point of substance, in favour of the development of a culture of awareness of what the convention requires in relation to domestic legislation.

And so, by requiring the Minister in charge of a Bill to give a statement about its compatibility, we are underlining our commitment to undertaking further pre-legislative scrutiny of all new policy measures. The noble Baroness will appreciate that, if there had been no such provision in the Bill, that might have given a quieter life for Ministers. Also, where the Minister states that he is unable to make a positive statement about the Bill's compatibility, that will be a very early signal to Parliament that the possible human rights implications of the Bill will need and will receive very careful consideration. Therefore, a statement giving the Government's conclusions, whether positive or negative, on the status of the Bill will go a long way towards the achievement of those aims. Therefore I ask the Committee not to underestimate the significance of what is already there.

Of course, Parliament will wish to know the reasons why the Government have taken whatever view they have taken. Therefore, I can understand why these amendments have been put forward. But the reasoning behind a statement of compatibility or the inability to make such a statement will inevitably be discussed by Parliament during the passage of the Bill. Of course it will be; and it will be discussed thoroughly.

I believe that a debate in Parliament provides the best forum in which the Government's thinking can be fully explained. In those circumstances, therefore, I require a great deal of persuasion that a written statement on the face of a Bill, setting out the Minister's reasons, would add anything of real value.

In principle, the idea of the equivalent of written argumentative essays on the face of Bills does not appeal to me. Debate in the Chamber on such issues will inevitably take place and that, surely, is the natural forum for ascertaining the Minister's reasons and having him develop them so that Members of this Chamber can test by question and debate the sufficiency of the

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reasons. Is there any real need to clutter up the face of the Bill with a statement of reasons? I beg leave to doubt it.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: I thank the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. I should perhaps point out to him that I do not intend to move Amendment No. 102A, which requires a written statement. I am moving Amendment No. 100 and speaking to Amendment No. 102, which only require that the reasons are given to Parliament in exactly the way that the noble and learned Lord outlined as part of a Minister's statement, so that Parliament may in fact more precisely and more relevantly debate the issue. I simply commend that to the noble and learned Lord, not because I am trying to create difficulties for the Bill; indeed, I strongly accept what he said about Clause 19. It is a very important part of the Bill, not a minor part. It is a very long step forward. I strongly commend it.

I have tabled the amendments so as to bring the legislation in line with the Franks Committee and the Neill Report. It is a further example of an attempt to try to elicit from governments of all colours and of all times the reasons why they do what they do. That is the spirit in which I move the amendment, not in a spirit of trying to create many requirements for written reasons which I, too, see no reason for. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

8.30 p.m.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon moved Amendment No. 101:

Page 10, line 38, leave out ("his") and insert ("Her Majesty's Government's").

The noble and learned Lord said: In speaking to this amendment, perhaps I may, for the convenience of the Committee, speak briefly to Amendment No. 103, which also stands in my name. I wish to make clear the reasons behind the amendments. I appreciate that Amendment No. 103 is not grouped with the one that I have just moved but, in view of the hour, I think it would be convenient for me to speak to both at the same time. The amendment has been tabled with a view to seeking to assist in making Clause 19 work when it in fact becomes law.

The first point to make is that, when, in the future, Parliament comes to discuss a new Bill, it will, with the greatest respect to individual Ministers, not really be concerned with the view of that individual Minister; it will be concerned with the view of the Government as to whether the provisions of the Bill which are to be debated are compatible with convention rights. That issue is essentially a question of law. It is inconceivable that, in most cases, the view will be the personal view of the Minister concerned. It will be the view of the Government informed by such legal advice as they will have taken, whether from Law Officers or from any other quarter. In effect, it will be the duty of the Minister to adopt that view and incorporate it in the statement which is

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to be given. If Amendment No. 103 were accepted, the suggested wording would then be incorporated into the statement which the Minister would then be required to repeat in this Chamber on Second Reading.

I invite Members of the Committee to picture the scene in a year or two when this Government, or possibly another, introduces a Bill with the noble Lord, Lord Lester, sitting in his usual place in the Chamber. A statement will be made by a lay Minister in the effect that, in his view, the provisions of the Bill are compatible with convention rights. If I am not mistaken, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Lester, would probably have something to say about it; indeed, he might conceivably have been involved in a case which touches upon the issue. In that situation we would have a most unusual discussion between an expert on the law and a layman whose knowledge was informed by an opinion of Law Officers whose existence he could not acknowledge--that is, the existence of the opinion, not that of the Law Officers--and the contents of which he could not disclose.

I suggest that it would be sensible to make clear on the face of the Bill the fact that it is the Government's view which is important. When such statements are to be debated, as they surely are, the Government may also wish to think about how the existing convention relating to the advice of Law Officers will be applied. As a Question earlier this week disclosed, a Minister can be placed in a very difficult position when he cannot mention the existence of the advice and yet he is, in effect, being asked to defend a legal opinion. On that basis, in the hope that the amendment will be accepted as a constructive one and that the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor has not used up all his pondering facilities, I beg to move.

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