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Lord Renton: I support the amendments of my noble friend Lord Selkirk of Douglas. He moved Amendment No. 186 with his usual lucidity. The appointments that he listed and the procedures that he mentioned should all, with one exception, be the responsibility of the Scottish parliament. In my opinion, the exception-- I cannot easily agree with this provision--is to be found in Amendment No. 188, which deals with immigration appeals tribunals operating in Scotland. Fair enough. The new Scottish administration should be responsible for appointments and the Scottish parliament should be involved.
However, there is a danger in suggesting that there should be--not inevitably, but possibly--a different procedure operating in Scotland in the immigration appeals tribunal from that which will operate in England. This is a very sensitive matter. There is great pressure at present from refugees and bogus asylum-seekers. If by any chance the procedure in Scotland turned out to be more lax than the procedure in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Scotland would be swamped by bogus asylum-seekers trying to gain entry. We must try to avoid that danger. So, with the
Lord Hylton: Perhaps I may venture to disagree slightly with the noble Lord, Lord Renton. It is possible that the procedures in immigration appeals tribunals in Scotland might be superior to the English procedures.
Lord Mackay of Drumadoon: I intervene to say a few words in support of the important issue raised in the amendments of my noble friend Lord Selkirk of Douglas. All procedures for appointing to UK tribunals those who are currently resident in Scotland required careful examination once devolution had been decided upon and the Bill introduced. The current system is complicated. Many people have a role to play in the appointments, including the Secretary of State, the Lord Advocate, the Lord President of the Court of Session and the Lord Chancellor. In certain instances, others are also involved.
It is important that the public should be aware of what procedure will be followed when UK tribunals meet in Scotland. Some Scots who are appointed to the tribunals serve not only in Scotland, but also in other parts of the United Kingdom. That applies whether the members are lay persons or have been appointed because of some professional qualification which is a prerequisite for serving on the tribunal.
I do not know which Minister is to reply to the amendment, but the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate will recall that this issue arose when the Social Security Bill was passing through your Lordships' House. A government amendment sought to take out of that Bill a clause giving the Lord Advocate a role in the appointment of members to social security tribunals. I wrote to the noble and learned Lord at that time on this point and I know that it was fully ventilated during our debates on the Bill. It would be of considerable assistance not only to Members of this Committee, but also to others, if the Minister who is to reply could fully explain to the Committee the procedures that are to be followed not only in relation to the procedures mentioned in my noble friend's amendment, but with regard to UK tribunals in general.
Lord Hardie: Perhaps I may deal with the last question first. The noble and learned Lord asked what procedures would apply to appointments to UK tribunals generally, taking the debate much wider than the specific amendments. The answer is that it would depend on whether or not the tribunals were dealing with reserved issues. If they are reserved, what I am about to say on the specific amendments would also apply.
The amendments seek to give the Scottish parliament competence over the appointments to, and the procedures of, a number of tribunals which deal with reserved matters. The tribunals have been set up specifically to deal with appeals on such matters. It is important that the appeals structures are as uniform throughout the United Kingdom as possible because we are dealing with reserved matters and with tribunals dealing with such matters. I draw comfort from the noble and learned Lord's comments and from the fact that he properly pointed out that on occasions Scottish members of the tribunals serve in England and English members serve in Scotland. That underlines the need for common procedures to be applied north and south of the Border.
It would make no sense for the Scottish parliament to be able to set up separate appointments and procedural rules for the tribunals in Scotland. In some cases, it may be appropriate, in dealing with the system of appointments that will flow from devolution, for Scottish Ministers to have a role in the making of appointments to some of the reserved tribunals or for setting their procedural rules. Provision will be made for that in appropriate cases through an order under Clause 59. Copies of a draft order were made available to your Lordships in the Printed Paper Office on Tuesday, 7th July.
In general terms, I believe that that deals with the points raised by the amendments but, out of deference to the noble Lord, Lord Selkirk of Douglas, I propose to deal with each amendment in turn as briefly as possible.
Amendment No. 186 relates to the Data Protection Tribunal. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary is responsible for making lay appointments to that tribunal. "Residence"--noble Lords will note that "residence" is referred to in the amendment--whether in Scotland or elsewhere in the United Kingdom is not relevant to such appointments. However, my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor appoints the legally qualified chairman and the deputy chairmen of the tribunal and currently does so after consultation with myself as Lord Advocate. The Government intend that after devolution the Lord Chancellor should exercise that function after consultation with the Scottish Ministers. Provision is made for that in the draft order under Clause 59.
Turning to Amendment No. 188, I draw comfort from the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Renton, about the Immigration Appeal Tribunal. I appreciate that the noble Lord does not agree with me in relation to other tribunals. However, as with those other tribunals, it is my contention that the Immigration Appeal Tribunal should not have different procedures north and south of the Border. The noble Lord, Lord Selkirk of Douglas, referred to immigration into Scotland. We are not talking about immigration into Scotland but into the United Kingdom. It is immigration into the United Kingdom with which the Immigration Appeal Tribunal is concerned. Whether the applicant is in Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland matters not; the same rules should apply.
My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor is responsible for all appointments to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal. Although he is under no statutory obligation to consult over those appointments, he does consult informally. He consults me as Lord Advocate over any appointments to the tribunal from the Scottish legal profession. It is expected that after devolution the Lord Chancellor will continue to consult Scottish Ministers informally on these appointment functions.
I turn to Amendment No. 191. The Government have already made clear that they intend to reserve matters relating to common markets for UK goods and services at home and abroad, including competition policy. This is essential to maintain a level playing field for business in the UK. That is one of our key objectives in framing the Scotland Bill. It is for this reason that the Scotland Bill reserves among other things all aspects of competition policy. I am sure that the noble Lords opposite wish to protect business interests in Scotland. I hope they recognise that this is best achieved by avoiding the possible operation in Scotland of criteria for appointment to tribunals different from those prevailing in the rest of the UK.
As to Amendment No. 208, it would be impractical and unfair to set up two different social security appeals systems in different parts of the United Kingdom. However, we recognise the need for a Scottish voice on these appeals tribunals, and the Social Security Act, which received Royal Assent on 21st May, will allow for the Lord Advocate to be consulted about the appointment of tribunal chairmen in Scotland up to the point of devolution. But we intend that the Lord Advocate's right to be consulted will devolve to the Scottish executive once the parliament is established and provision will be made for this by way of an order under Clause 59.
I turn finally to Amendment No. 211. The legislation under which complaints to industrial tribunals arise is reserved and appeals from industrial tribunal decisions go to the Employment Appeal Tribunal. That body sits in both England and Scotland. It therefore makes sense for the rules of procedure and appointments to be reserved and consistent. The rules of procedure under which Scottish industrial tribunals currently operate are virtually the same as those in England and Wales and it makes no sense to have different procedures to deal with complaints under the same legislation. For those reasons, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.
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