Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Twenty-Seventh Report



Memorandum by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office


This memorandum on delegated powers in the Landmines Bill describes the provisions included in the Bill which delegate legislation making powers.

Outline and Scope of the Landmines Bill

The Landmines Bill implements in the United Kingdom the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction ("the Ottawa Convention") which was signed in Ottawa on 3 December 1997. The Bill will enable the United Kingdom to ratify the Convention.

The Bill prohibits the use, development, production, possession and transfer of anti-personnel mines. The Bill applies to these acts done in the United Kingdom and also to these acts done elsewhere by United Kingdom nationals, Scottish partnerships, and bodies incorporated under the law of the United Kingdom.

The Bill sets out procedures for determining whether or not a suspect object is an anti-personnel mine or not, and if it is, for its destruction. The Bill also makes provision for fact-finding missions to the United Kingdom in accordance with the provisions of the Ottawa Convention.

Clause 3(4)

Clause 3(4) enables the extension of the application of the prohibitions in subsections (1) and (2) of Clause 2 to bodies incorporated under the law of any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or any colony. There is a similar provision in Section 3(3) of the Chemical Weapons Act 1996 (1996 c.6).

Given the gravity of the offences created by Clause 2, it may be desirable for the United Kingdom courts to have jurisdiction over them when committed anywhere outside the United Kingdom by bodies incorporated in any of the territories. Providing for extension by delegated legislation will allow time for consultation with the territories. The scope of any Order in Council would be limited by the terms of Clause 3(4). Given the restricted nature of the power, it is not considered necessary to make provision for any Parliamentary procedure.

Clause 24

Clause 24 enables modifications to be made to the Act to give effect to any amendment of the Ottawa Convention. Amendments may be adopted by an Amendment Conference in accordance with Article 13 of the Ottawa Convention. Any amendment so adopted would enter into force for any State Party which has accepted it upon the deposit with the Depositary of instruments of acceptance by a majority of the States Parties to the Ottawa Convention. It is important that the United Kingdom be in a position to ratify agreed amendments in good time.

Any Order under this Clause must be laid in draft and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament ("the positive resolution procedure").

The intention is that the Act shall be kept in step with agreed amendments to the Ottawa Convention. The power is limited to implementing such amendments and may not be used to make other changes.

A similar provision is contained in section 36 of the Chemical Weapons Act 1996 (1996 c.6).

Clause 29(4)

Clause 29(4) enables the Act, with suitable modifications, to be made part of the law of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or any colony. The Clause therefore permits compliance with the Ottawa Convention to be secured in all territories under United Kingdom sovereignty.

United Kingdom practice is to consult each of the territories before extending the legislation. In common with similar provisions in many other Acts (including section 39(3) of the Chemical Weapons Act 1996), the extension would be effected by Order in Council not subject to Parliamentary procedure.

14 July 1998

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1998