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Lord Bach: My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Lords who have spoken. The point that they have made is well taken. I am also grateful for their support for the two orders to which I have spoken. The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, mentioned the delay in the orders coming before the House in relation to the three countries that have acceded to the EU. The delay occurred because we were awaiting Poland's accession to the Lugano Convention, which took place only in February 2000, as we wanted to deal with all these matters in the same debate. However, that may not be an entirely satisfactory answer to his question.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this draft order provides for an amendment to the Attorney-General's salary. My noble and learned friend Lord Williams of Mostyn, QC, was appointed as Attorney-General on 29th July last year. Previous occupants of the post have been Members of the House of Commons; my noble and learned friend is the first Peer to be appointed as Attorney-General.
The current salary for the Attorney-General applies only if the post-holder is a Member of the House of Commons. There is currently no equivalent rate of salary for the post in the Lords. This means that a new salary needs to be determined for the post of Attorney-General in this House.
The Senior Salaries Review Body recommended that the salary should have the same differential over the rate for a Cabinet Minister in the Lords that the salary for the post in the Commons has over the rate for a Cabinet Minister in the other place.
This order is effective backdated to 1st April 1999 and sets the salary at £87,585. Following the annual increase in ministerial salaries from 1st April this year, this results in a current salary of £90,125. I commend the order to the House.
Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, I think that none of us will have any objection to the Attorney-General having such a salary. The noble Lord answered one of my questions when he said that the figure in paragraph 2 is able to be adjusted with the rate of inflation, whatever it happens to be.
The order that I have in front of me has no fewer than six manuscript amendments to it. As far as I can see, the order was laid on 7th June, which is quite a long time ago. Why has it taken so long? What has happened in the interim period that we do not have a proper order, one without manuscript amendments? The Minister said that the present Attorney-General was the first Attorney-General from the House of Lords. Is that in fact the case? Is there not a case of an Attorney-General coming from the House of Lords sometime in the 17th century?
Having said that, I was in two minds about what reaction to take in relation to this order. On the one hand, I was tempted to make a political gesture by proposing that the Attorney-General's salary should be reduced; on the other hand, as a member of the trade union of barristers, I was equally tempted to say that the salary was excessively low. I have decided to split the difference by supporting the order.
Lord Bach: My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Lords for their contributions. The noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, may be right; there may well have been an Attorney-General from this House in the 17th century. If that is so, I am fairly sure that that individual would not have been paid a salary and that such an order as I have moved today would not have been necessary. If I am wrong about that, I shall make sure that I inform the noble Lord.
The purpose of this order is to allow local authorities in London to charge for making stopping up orders. Part X of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 enables the Secretary of State to make certain types of order relating to highways. These regulations concern three types of order. Section 247 enables orders to be made to authorise the stopping up of a highway to enable development to be carried out in accordance with planning permission. By "stopping up a highway", I mean extinguishing the right of the general public to pass and repass over the highway.
Not all such orders involve closing off whole lengths of road. They may involve stopping up small slivers of highway or, for example, areas of only a few square feet to enable piers to be constructed to support an overhanging building. Where a highway is extinguished altogether, an alternative route will be provided unless it is not necessary, and the order-making procedure enables members of the public affected by proposed orders to object and for public inquiries to be held. It by no means follows that, because a proposal involving the stopping up of a highway has obtained planning permission, an order will necessarily be made.
The other kinds of order that these regulations concern are orders under Section 248 (to authorise the stopping up of a highway which crosses or enters the route of another highway to be constructed under planning permission) and orders under Section 249. These latter orders extinguish the right of vehicles to use a highway--that is to say, they pedestrianise the highway--where a local planning authority has adopted a proposal for improving the amenity of the area.
Regulation 3 provides a general power to impose charges for considering an application for a stopping up order and for taking all the steps required for the making of the order, whether or not the order is actually made.
Regulation 5 makes provision for the amount of the charges. It is for each authority to come to a decision on the actual amount after taking appropriate account of its relevant administrative expenses and general staff costs and overheads. But the charge would, of course, have to be a reasonable one in the light of all these factors. I commend the regulations to the House.
Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for explaining the regulations, to which we have no objection. I say only that it would have been better to have dealt with the regulations immediately after the Second Reading debate on the Bill of my noble friend Lord Peyton as the regulations deal with the stopping up of highways. Also, "Peers" cannot be constructed; they are either born or they are created!
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I take the point about "Peers"! All I can say in response to the noble Lord is that the hour would have been later had the regulations been dealt with immediately after the business of the noble Lord, Lord Peyton.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Scotland of Asthal, I beg to move that the draft order be approved. At the same time, with the leave of the House, I shall speak to the International Seabed Authority (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2000.
The first draft order is required to enable the Government to ratify two Council of Europe international agreements relating to the practical functioning of the new permanent European Court of Human Rights which came into being in Strasbourg on 1st November 1999. The draft order is made under the International Organisations Act 1968 and will give effect in UK law to the privileges and immunities granted by the agreements. The privileges and immunities granted are necessary for the efficient functioning of the court. The draft order will confer only those privileges and immunities which we are internationally obliged to confer under the two agreements. The United Kingdom signed the agreements on 27th October 1999.
The two agreements concerned are: first, the European agreement relating to persons participating in proceedings of the European Court of Human Rights; and, secondly, the sixth protocol to the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Council of Europe. The text of each agreement was published and presented to Parliament in June under cover of explanatory memoranda.
The European Agreement 1996, like its predecessor, is designed to give persons taking part in proceedings before the court--whether as parties, their lawyers or advisers, or as witnesses, experts or interveners--immunities and facilities to enable them fully to participate in the proceedings. The main immunities and facilities are: first,immunity from legal process in respect of statements made and documents submitted to the court; secondly, a right to correspond freely with the court, including for persons in detention; and, thirdly, free and unimpeded movement and travel for the purpose of attending and returning from proceedings before the court.
Previously the second, fourth and fifth protocols to the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities guaranteed the necessary privileges and immunities to the members of the commission and the old court. The purpose of the sixth protocol is to do the same for the members of the new court. Because, however, they are permanent appointees and reside permanently in Strasbourg, it was considered appropriate to increase their privileges and immunities, to bring them in line, essentially, with those enjoyed by diplomatic envoys. In addition, under the protocol, documents and papers of the court, judges and registry that relate to the business of the court are inviolable.
The second draft order, the International Seabed Authority (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2000, will enable the Government to ratify the protocol on the privileges and immunities of the International Seabed Authority, which was published and presented to Parliament in February under cover of an explanatory memorandum.
The authority is an institution created by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, known as UNCLOS, to organise and control activities on the deep seabed beyond the jurisdiction of any state, protecting its resources as the common heritage of mankind. The UK is a member of the authority by virtue of its accession to UNCLOS in August 1997.
UNCLOS provides that the authority, to enable it to exercise its functions, shall enjoy in the territory of each state party certain privileges and immunities. The International Seabed Authority (Immunities and Privileges) Order 1996 (SI 1996/270) gives effect to those privileges and immunities in UK law. The states parties to UNCLOS, however, have recognised that certain additional privileges and immunities are necessary for the effective exercise of the functions of the authority. The protocol provides for those additional privileges and immunities. It is based substantially on Articles I, II, IV, V, V1 and VII of the conventions on the privileges and immunities of the United Nations and of the specialised agencies. The proposed order will give effect in UK law to the
The order is also made under the International Organisations Act 1968 and in accordance with Section 1(6) (a) of that Act, the privileges and immunities conferred are no greater in extent than those required by UNCLOS and the protocol or those authorised by the Act. I very much hope that your Lordships will in due course approve these orders, which are modest and non-controversial.