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Lord Dubs: My Lords, I am grateful for the support that I received from the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran. I hope that I shall be able to persuade the rest of your Lordships who feel inclined to support the amendment not to do so.

Over the years the security situation in Northern Ireland has required membership of the Armed Forces of the Crown to work alongside and in support of the Royal Ulster Constabulary to maintain public order. Public order legislation for Northern Ireland confers powers, authorities, privileges and immunities on those persons charged with carrying out functions under that legislation. That means both members of the Armed Fores of the Crown and members of the RUC. I wish to make it clear that public order legislation is a reserved matter under the Bill. So is the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The Bill provides for the Armed Forces of the Crown to be a reserved matter only in respect of their public order role. It ensures that for all other purposes the Armed Forces are an excepted matter.

Therefore, in reply to the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Cope, and others, this is not about who controls the Armed Forces. They remain under the control of the United Kingdom Government. It is about whether the Assembly, in legislating on public order matters generally, can grant similar powers to the police and the Army. That would seem sensible in a situation where the Army may yet be called upon to support the RUC. However, any such legislation will be subject to the consent of the Secretary of State and of Parliament. So we are not changing the civilian control of the Armed Forces. Nor does the Bill change who controls the Armed Forces. Whether reserved or excepted, they remain under the control of this Government. I hope that I have made it clear that this is an important and necessary distinction. We believe it is right to ensure that public order issues are dealt with consistently. We

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believe that this matter should be in the reserved field. I therefore ask the noble Lord not to proceed with his amendment.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, this short debate has helped to clarify matters somewhat. As the Minister said, this is not about who controls the Armed Forces. He is right; I accept that. That includes the allocation of tasks, etcetera, that the Armed Forces may take on in future. That ultimately remains under the civilian control of Whitehall and Westminster, although obviously on the ground the Armed Forces will be in support of the civil power. That is to say, the Chief Constable is responsible for the maintenance of public order and uses the Armed Forces as he believes they are required, subject to the Armed Forces agreeing to the tasks allocated to them.

The amendment merely relates to who legislates for the powers of the Armed Forces when they are so occupied. It is still my belief that the Armed Forces should have the same powers wherever they are in the United Kingdom in respect of public order duties. But at least, as the Minister said, the Secretary of State and Parliament will continue to control the situation for the time being and possibly for longer than we think. In the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 139:

Page 54, line 15, leave out ("to this Act").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment and Amendment No. 156, which is grouped with it, are purely drafting points. They remove the words, "to this Act", from two references to other provisions of the Bill. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 140:

Page 55, line 14, at end insert--
(" . Fiscal, economic and monetary policy.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am in no doubt that the Government intend that fiscal, economic and monetary policy should remain solely in the hands of the Westminster Parliament and the Whitehall administration rather than passing into the hands of the Northern Ireland administration and legislative authorities. However, I am not entirely clear that the Bill succeeds in that.

My amendment is picked up entirely from the Scotland Bill. I accept, as the Minister said earlier in more general remarks about Schedules 2 and 3, that there are differences in the construction of the two Bills which lead to differences in the wording between them. I accept also that there are other provisions in the Bill that deal specifically with the matter of taxes; that is to say, fiscal affairs in practice. However, there are also provisions in the Bill dealing, for example, with banking supervision which is part of the practical application of monetary policy. There are also provisions relating to public expenditure, which is a large component of economic policy. It may therefore be desirable to insert

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these words into the Bill to ensure that the primacy of Whitehall and Westminster is made absolutely clear on the face of the Bill in these very important central matters. I do not need to emphasise their importance. It is obvious to all. I beg to move.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, the noble Lord's amendment would add to the list of excepted matters in Schedule 2 "fiscal, economic and monetary policy". The amendment is partially based on the reservation in the Scotland Bill. In the Scotland Bill, there is an exception from the reservation in respect of local taxes to fund local authority expenditure, which would of course also be a transferred matter for Northern Ireland. In the Northern Ireland context, however, we do not believe the amendment to be appropriate. However, although we take a different approach, I can assure the noble Lord that the outcome is broadly the same.

As I have said previously, the starting points for the Northern Ireland Bill and the Scotland Bill are quite different. The Scotland Bill starts with a clean sheet whereas in the case of Northern Ireland we are building on a legal foundation going back to 1921. In respect of the matters in Schedules 2 and 3, we take the 1973 Act as our starting-point. The 1973 Act does not make specific reference to "fiscal, economic and monetary policy". A change in this approach would run the risk of throwing up a number of uncertainties.

The Bill does, however, like the 1973 Act, make it clear that the instruments of fiscal and monetary policy are specifically excepted. In Schedule 2 taxes and duties are excepted matters. Coinage, legal tender and banknotes are also excepted matters. This makes it clear that the Assembly will not have control of these matters.

Economic policy, however, is very wide and while some aspects are excepted, others are reserved or transferred. For example, international relations and relations with the European Union are excepted, and the Assembly will not therefore have control over exchange rates or the single currency. Financial services and markets are broadly reserved, reflecting historical factors and the relationship between these matters and commercial interests. And some other issues which fall under the heading of economic policy are clearly transferred--such as the promotion of Northern Ireland's trade and the IDB, and the setting of regional rates.

As this explanation demonstrates, the amendment is not necessary as the effect is achieved but in a different way. I therefore invite the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, as I slightly expected and to a degree hinted at in what I said in moving the amendment, the practical application of the matters is covered in other places, as the Minister said. His reply demonstrates the wider fact that the three devolutions being carried out at the moment for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are being conducted in a totally different manner in each case. That leads to an extremely muddled constitutional situation. The variations in the wording of the three Bills

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demonstrates the difference and the confusion as much as the policy which lies behind the way in which the different responsibilities are being devolved.

However, in the light of the Minister's reply, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 141:

Page 55, line 15, at end insert--
(" . Postage stamps.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment relates to a specific small matter. At Committee stage we had a debate as to whether the management of the Post Office should be an excepted matter, for all time the responsibility of Whitehall and Westminster, or whether it should be a matter which was in the reserved category.

The debate is concerned with whether the design and arrangements for postage stamps should be a matter in which the Northern Ireland Assembly could become involved or whether it should be totally the responsibility of Westminster. I believe--hence the amendment--that postage stamps are a central matter which should be controlled centrally. The provision before the one relating to the amendment is provided by the Government to control bank notes centrally. There are Northern Ireland bank notes with different designs which are issued by the banks in Northern Ireland, as in Scotland, but under the control of the Bank of England's own arrangements as to design. The Government are wisely continuing to control the design of bank notes as well as their issue, as I understand it, by the provision in Schedule 2 immediately before this one. They should do the same with postage stamps.

Another point relates to the future of the Post Office more widely. At Question Time on Monday we heard that consultations on that are eventually reaching a conclusion so that in future the control of postage stamps may change within the United Kingdom. I expressed the view in Committee, and adhere to it, that the idea of the Northern Ireland Assembly discussing what devices Northern Ireland postage stamps should have--whether they should continue to have the Queen's head, for example--would be an extremely difficult matter for the Assembly to handle in its present form.

All in all, it seems to me best, both for the control of the postal service and the universality which the Government claim to want for the postal service, that postage stamps should at the least remain an excepted matter. I beg to move.

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