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Lord Dubs: My Lords, I am well aware that the noble Lord has moved a number of amendments to which I have given the same answers. However, I shall try to vary my response. His amendment would move intellectual property from the reserved to the excepted field. This includes matters such as trade mark, copyright and patent laws. All of those matters were reserved in the 1973 Act. In the main they have been taken forward on a UK-wide basis. Keeping these matters in the reserved category does not mean that the UK-wide approach could or would not be maintained. There are many matters in the transferred field which have been dealt with on a UK-wide basis over the years and there is no reason why such arrangements cannot continue.

However, as I have already mentioned today, where matters were reserved in 1973 we have a preference for keeping them in that category in this Bill. This gives us added flexibility, which I would not want to rule out. For example, there might be occasions where the subject matter of proposed legislation would be partly in the transferred field and partly in the reserved field. In such cases the Assembly would, with the Secretary of State's consent, be able to deal with the matter. I see this as having a bearing on the matter of intellectual property and therefore I resist moving it to the excepted field.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, as the Minister has said he has given much the same answer on a number of occasions. However, the answer that he has just given was slightly different. He said that there might be matters that fell partly in the transferred field and partly in the reserved field and it might therefore be necessary for Northern Ireland legislation to deal with such matters. I understood that if a matter was ancillary to an excepted matter--I do not quote the exact words used in the Bill--it could nevertheless be dealt with in Northern Ireland legislation with the permission of the Secretary of State. I believe that that would cover a case where a matter might be excepted legislation which could nevertheless be dealt with, but clearly the Minister is not of that view. In the circumstances I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 144:

Page 55, line 32, at end insert--
(" . The provision of programme services within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990.").

11 Nov 1998 : Column 788

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move Amendment No. 144 which seeks to insert the following:

    "The provision of programme services within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990".
Undoubtedly noble Lords will agree that this is a most important matter. The amendment proposes that this should be an excepted matter and that the control of programme services of one kind or another should remain with Westminster and Whitehall for as long as the Bill lasts rather than that they should be in the transferred category. The category has become a little more confused since we started our discussions. We now have sub-categories of matters which are in the reserved list but will never be transferred and those in the reserved list which it is expected will be transferred at some time.

I am not sure whether it is intended to keep the provision of programme services in the reserved category for a long time in the future, or whether it is one of the matters that the Government have in mind should be transferred to the Northern Ireland jurisdiction in the foreseeable future if all goes smoothly. Perhaps we may receive some enlightenment on that in the Minister's reply.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, the effect of the amendment would be to move broadcasting from the reserved field to the excepted field. Broadcasting was a reserved matter under the 1973 Act. As I have said before, the division of matters in the Bill between the excepted and reserved fields has been based very much on the 1973 Act.

As I have said also before, where a matter falls in the reserved field, that does not mean that it is necessarily envisaged as suitable for transfer. But the reserved field offers a much greater degree of flexibility than the excepted field, and that is an important factor in our consideration.

In respect of broadcasting, there may be some aspects where in the future the Northern Ireland Assembly will want to have some say, and we do not think that it would be appropriate to rule out this possibility by making it an excepted matter.

Lord Glentoran: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, perhaps I may raise one issue. I trust that the rules regarding political broadcasts will remain with Westminster.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I understand that that is so.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, this is another matter which is not regarded as suitable for transfer even in the future for the most part, although the Assembly may be allowed to have a small amount of influence on it.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. He makes a number of assumptions about matters which I did not state. The noble Lord is entitled to make whatever assumptions he

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wishes, but I did not say whether or not a certain matter would be transferred, except where it is in the agreement. I do not want my silence to be taken as agreeing with the noble Lord. Hence I interrupt him.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that interruption. I sought to be a little more specific about what the future was likely to be. However, the noble Lord wishes to leave it vague; and he is entitled to do so. If the noble Lord makes the same speech, so can I. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Cope moved Amendment No. 145:

Page 55, line 32, at end insert--
(" . Internet services; electronic encryption; the subject-matter of Part II of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 (electromagnetic disturbance).").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is the last of this group of amendments which seeks to put matters into the excepted field. The amendment deals with the Internet services, electronic encryption and the Wireless Telegraphy Act.

The Internet is a growing field around the world. I find it an extremely useful facility in the limited amount of use that I make of it. I have no experience of electronic encryption, but I have no doubt that that too is valuable. We should encourage the universality of Internet services in particular and the other matters covered in the amendment because they are such a valuable tool for mankind. If we do not have the same rules throughout the United Kingdom, there is even less chance of having the same rules internationally. Yet without international rules those services will not be able to flourish to the benefit of mankind as they have the potential to do.

It is not sensible to provide for the possibility of different and separate legislation, and so on, on matters of this kind in Northern Ireland compared with the whole of the United Kingdom. That is the argument for having these matters in the excepted category. I beg to move.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, as noble Lords will have noted from my comments, there are a number of matters which the Government have preferred to keep in the reserved field in order to retain a greater degree of flexibility. The matters of Internet services, electronic encryption and electro-magnetic disturbance are among them.

These are matters of developing technology and we do not know with any certainty how they will develop over future years and decades. There are commercial aspects to them on which it might at some future stage be appropriate for the Assembly to be able to legislate--even if only at the fringes.

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It is for that reason, and against the possibility of circumstances as yet unforeseen, that we consider it important to keep that flexibility. I ask the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I understand the need for flexibility, as the Minister expresses it. However, I do not think that it is as appropriate to the provision of Internet services and the other matters dealt with by the amendment, as in many other cases. However, the Government have had to make their decision. I do not propose to challenge it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 146:

Page 55, line 38, at end insert--
(". Regulation of activities in outer space.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 146, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 164. These amendments move the regulation of activities in outer space from Schedule 3 to Schedule 2 making it an excepted matter. That fulfils the commitment I gave to the noble Lord, Lord Cope, in Committee.

As I said in Committee, we agree with your Lordships that this should be a matter for Westminster alone and have no difficulty in putting it in the excepted field. I beg to move.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for agreeing that at least this matter should be transferred into the excepted category. It always seemed extremely unlikely that Northern Ireland would have its own space programme separate from the rest of the United Kingdom or that it would wish to have a different regime applying in outer space above Northern Ireland compared with that above the remainder of the United Kingdom. I was always astonished that the provision was in Schedule 3 as opposed to Schedule 2. I am grateful to the Minister for agreeing that and for moving it to a more appropriate category.

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