Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 243:

Page 44, line 30, at end insert--
(". Nuclear energy and nuclear installations, including nuclear safety, security and safeguards, and liability for nuclear occurrences, but not the subject-matter of--
(a) section 3(5) to (7) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (emission limits); or
(b) the Radioactive Substances Act 1993.").

The noble Lord said: In moving the amendment I speak also to Amendment No. 281. In the 1973 Act, nuclear installations were a reserved matter. That is the current entry in paragraph 34 of Schedule 3 to the Bill. However, we have looked at the matter again and consider the reservation to be inadequate. We accordingly propose to expand the category to include nuclear energy, nuclear safety, security and safeguards. That is in line with the reservations in the Scotland Bill. By including those matters in the category, we have gone some considerable way beyond the matters which were reserved in the 1973 Act. Indeed, we believe that the category concerns fundamental matters of national interest and as such should be excepted matters rather than reserved. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 244:

Page 44, line 30, at end insert--
(". Regulation of sea fishing outside the Northern Ireland zone (except in relation to Northern Ireland fishing boats).
In this paragraph "Northern Ireland fishing boat" means a fishing vessel which is registered in the register maintained under section 8 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 and whose entry in the register specifies a port in Northern Ireland as the port to which the vessel is to be treated as belonging.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 245:

Page 44, leave out lines 31 to 38.

The noble Lord said: I tabled the amendment in order to find out the meaning of paragraph 17 of Schedule 2. It seemed to contain considerable complexities and did not appear to be clearly worded. However, the Minister subsequently tabled Amendment No. 245A. He has knocked out the whole clause and replaced it with clearer wording which I believe does the job more accurately. The clearer wording is to be preferred.

As the words used in my amendment are repeated in the noble Lord's amendment, I shall withdraw my amendment in order to support Amendment No. 245A.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): In the grouping with Amendment No 245 are Amendments Nos, 245A, 282A, 282B and

27 Oct 1998 : Column 1848

282C. The noble Lord is right. His amendment jogged us into reconsideration and I am grateful to him for that.

There were deficiencies in paragraph 17 of Schedule 2. We seek to produce a degree of clarity although it is at the expense of brevity. In this group we propose amendments to Schedules 2, 3 and 4. They concern the extent to which the Bill and its subject matter are preserved from encroachment by the Assembly. In principle we wish to safeguard the main provisions of the Bill, reflecting, as they do, the agreement.

Not all provisions of the Bill are of the same nature. We had difficulty on the equality provisions. I mention the word "equality" with some diffidence because I believe that we have beaten it vigorously into the ground. The noble Lord, Lord Lester, is not present. He has already told me that he will not move the amendments in the next group. We were legislating in an area presently a transferred matter in general. We want to give protection to the key features of the equality provisions. The Assembly will have to be intimately involved in this field. The anti-discrimination codes the equality commission will be operating must, under the agreement, be transferred matters. We have consulted the Northern Ireland parties. In the light of their reactions we propose that most of these matters should become reserved and therefore included in Schedule 3.

There are other provisions where there is no real policy reason for the matters concerned to be completely preserved against Assembly modification. We have therefore included in the reserved category, for instance, the provisions relating to the Assembly commission and Assembly property. Those categories will be open to modification by the Assembly but only with the consent of the Secretary of State and subject to parliamentary control, as in Clause 13.

There are elements in the Bill from previous legislation. Even this degree of protection seems unnecessary. There are the provisions relating to land purchase annuities in Clause 76. There is no reason of principle why the Assembly should not deal with those. There are technical reasons for retaining some flexibility. There must be scope for amendments to update a statutory reference where the Assembly, within its proper domain, makes changes that affect it--for instance, by reconstituting a body to which it refers.

The Bill as presented followed the 1973 Act in making excepted any matter for which provision was made by the Bill, so that any change beyond that ancillary to other provisions would be outside the competence of the Assembly. It followed the Scotland Bill in entrenching most of the Bill in Schedule 4 so the Assembly could not modify its provisions textually. We did not get all the provisions exactly right before presentation, as I said when I began to introduce the amendments. Under our amendments, most provisions of the Bill remain in the excepted category. We have moved a number of matters to reserved matters. I have mentioned some already, and there are others we have felt obliged to make reserved so as not to prevent the Assembly from legislating legitimately in associated fields. It is important, as a matter of principle, that the Assembly is able to develop

27 Oct 1998 : Column 1849

matters and to feel that it has a legitimate interest in various sections which do not need to be specifically removed from it. That is true in particular of the new clauses and schedule on certificates relating to national security and other matters which it will be necessary to apply in the forthcoming equality legislation.

Entrenchment of the Bill's provisions would largely duplicate the safeguards I have outlined but would add unwanted rigidities since it permits of no textual modification. It would cut across our wish to make matters reserved or transferred. We propose therefore that the Bill generally should not be entrenched. We have not entirely abandoned that concept. It would still apply as in Scotland to the Human Rights Act 1998 (as it soon will be) and the European Communities Act 1972. We have left entrenched a small number of provisions of the Bill where exceptional reservation appears to entail unwanted restrictions on the devolved authorities but where we do not want to see the Bill modified.

The Scotland Bill has undergone a number of modifications. I cannot say that I am confident even today that we have the final wording absolutely right. I have to tell the Committee that there may be some further fine-tuning on Report. The noble Lord, Lord Cope, has courteously indicated his stance. I repeat my thanks to him again for bringing this firmly into the topic of our discussion.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

5 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 245A:

Page 44, leave out lines 31 to 38 and insert--
(" . Any matter with which a provision of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973 solely or mainly deals.
. Any matter with which a provision of this Act falling within the following sub-paragraphs solely or mainly deals--
(a) Parts I and II;
(b) Part III except sections (Junior Ministers), (Statutory functions), 18(2) and (3) and 21;
(c) Part IV except sections 32, 35(7), 36(8) and 41 and Schedule 6;
(d) in Part IVA, sections (North-South Ministerial Council and British Irish Council) and (British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference);
(d) Part V except section 44(1);
(e) Part VI except sections 58, 59(1) to (4) and 60 and Schedules 9 and 10;
(f) in Part VII, sections 68 to 70 and Schedule 11.
This paragraph does not apply to--
(i) any matter in respect of which it is stated by this Act that proy be made by Act of the Assembly;
(ii) any matter to which a description specified in this Schedule or Schedule 3 is stated not to apply; or
(iii) any matter falling within a description specified in Schedule 3.").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

27 Oct 1998 : Column 1850

[Amendment No. 246 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord Lester of Herne Hill had given notice of his intention to move Amendment No. 247:

Page 44, line 38, at end insert--
(" .--(1) Equal opportunities, including the subject-matter of--
(a) the Equal Pay (Northern Ireland) Act 1970,
(b) the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order 1976,
(c) the Fair Employment Act 1976,
(d) the Fair Employment Act 1989,
(e) the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, and
(f) the Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997,
but excluding--
(i) the encouragement (other than by prohibition or regulation) of equal opportunities, and in particular of the observance of the equal opportunity requirements; and
(ii) the imposition of duties on any public authority in Northern Ireland to which section 60 of this Act, to make arrangements with a view to securing that the functions of the authority are carried out with due regard to the need to meet the equal opportunity requirements.
(2) In this paragraph, "equal opportunities" means the prevention, elimination or regulation of discrimination between persons on grounds of sex or marital status, on racial grounds, or on grounds of disability, age, sexual orientation, language or social origin, or of other personal attributes, including beliefs or opinions such as religious beliefs or political opinions; and "equal opportunity requirements" means the requirements of the law for the time being relating to equal opportunities.").

Lord Goodhart: In the absence of my noble friend Lord Lester, I point out that Amendments Nos. 247 and 265A relate to whether the substance of the equality legislation as opposed to its implementation should be an accepted matter. That was debated at length yesterday and will no doubt reappear on Report. In the circumstances, we believe that no useful purpose would be served by moving the amendment now and on behalf of my noble friend I do not do so.

[Amendment No. 247 not moved.]

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page