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Lord Goodhart moved Amendment No. 7:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 8 and 9. These amendments are intended to pick up comments made by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. In its eleventh report the committee doubted whether secondary legislation was appropriate for establishing the right to vote, the right to register a vote as a voter or the right to serve as an MEP in Gibraltar.

The report pointed out that the corresponding disqualifications in the United Kingdom were mostly dealt with by primary legislation although in some cases it was brought in by secondary legislation referring to primary legislation in another Act of Parliament. The report pointed out that the disqualification under what are now Clauses 17(1)(d) and (g) and Clause 21(1) are not limited to making provision corresponding to provision in the United Kingdom.

The Government delivered a full reply to that, but the committee was not persuaded and repeated the comments I have already mentioned in its twelfth report. The effect of these amendments is not to require primary legislation, but to do the next best thing, which is to limit the powers under Clause 17(1)(d) and (g) and Clause 21(1) to the making of provision corresponding to that in the United Kingdom. That means that it will not require primary legislation, but that disqualification must be limited to grounds for disqualification established by primary legislation in the United Kingdom. That seems to be more appropriate than the apparently much wider powers which the Bill now gives to the Government to legislate by regulation. I beg to move.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I believe that when we debated this issue in Grand Committee the noble Lord said that he was minded to consider the matter further and possibly return to it at Report stage. He has kept his promise.

The noble Lord has made clear the purpose of these amendments is to try to restrict the enabling powers in Clauses 17 and 21 of the Bill. Amendment No. 7 seeks to restrict the powers in Clause 17(1) to provisions which correspond to those which are made in regulations under Section 53 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. Such a restriction is neither necessary nor practical given the context within which we are working.

Clause 17 enables the Lord Chancellor to make regulations supplementary to Clauses 14 to 16 of the Bill, which relate to the provision of a Gibraltar register for European parliamentary elections, the franchise and the entitlement to be on the register. These regulations will set out the details for these

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matters and that detail will as far as possible be the same as that in the equivalent UK provision, adapted where necessary to reflect the position in Gibraltar.

For the benefit of the House I should also explain that the matters to which I have referred are dealt with in UK law by both primary and secondary legislation. However, much of that legislation applies only indirectly in the case of the European Parliament elections because the franchise for European parliamentary elections is derived principally from the United Kingdom parliamentary franchise. As a result there is a large amount of primary and secondary legislation which is applicable to the UK franchise and which is not set out in the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 or the regulations under that Act.

It has been necessary to provide for the establishment of a separate franchise for Gibraltar as clearly there is not a UK parliamentary register to rely on. So all the primary and subordinate legislation will need to be dealt with specifically under the Bill and adapted where necessary to suit Gibraltar's circumstances. We will of course need to consult with the Government of Gibraltar to be sure that we get it right. This provides some idea of the enormous task that this would present if we were to try to establish on the face of the Bill precisely all the issues dealt with under Clause 17 and then to replicate the UK provisions with appropriate adaptations for Gibraltar.

Our aim is to have all the necessary legislation in place by as early a date as possible and no later than the autumn, so that all those involved in preparing for June 2004 elections have plenty of time beforehand to make the necessary preparations. This would not be possible if more substantive amounts of detail were to be included on the face of the Bill.

The overall approach of this legislation is to treat the Gibraltar electorate in the same manner as voters in an existing UK constituency. Enfranchisement, therefore, is based on UK electoral law and the Bill will enable replication of the relevant UK rules for Gibraltar as far as possible. Similar groups of people will be enfranchised and covered by similar rules to those already in place in the UK.

Perhaps I may give one example. Clauses 15 and 16 of the Bill enfranchise Commonwealth citizens who qualify by satisfying the relevant immigration provisions and also residency requirements. Clause 17 gives the Lord Chancellor the power to make regulations concerning residency requirements and the definition of qualifying Commonwealth citizens. For maximum consistency across the combined region these regulations will effectively match the UK requirement and ensure that all voters in Gibraltar are treated in a fair and equal manner to the remaining voters in the combined region.

I hope that that clarifies the situation for the noble Lord. It is entirely in line with the commitments we have made, including our public notification to the European Council in February 2002. There may be those who are concerned about the powers being too wide, but the implied limitations within the Bill itself ensure that that cannot be the case.

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It remains our view, therefore, that all these matters are suitable to be dealt with under secondary legislation and indeed that it would be impractical to attempt to do otherwise. To restrict the powers in Clause 17(1) only to matters addressed by the regulations under Section 53 of the Representation of the People Act 1983, which are largely matters of detail and procedure, would mean that all other provisions that need to be made under Clause 17(1) would need to be made on the face of the Bill. I cannot believe that that is the noble Lord's intention.

I take Amendment No. 8 as intending to confirm that the matters addressed by subsection (3) are not challenged. However, I respectfully say that it is not right to refer to those provisions as being without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2), as subsection (3) includes a number of matters which are clearly distinct.

As to Clause 21, it enables the Lord Chancellor to extend the classes of those disqualified by Section 10 of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 2002 from being an MEP to include also persons having a connection with Gibraltar. The intention is to do this by both extending existing UK provisions so that they apply to Gibraltarians in similar circumstances, and also to include similar, but distinct, classes of people in Gibraltar to UK classes where UK classes cannot easily be applied to Gibraltarians.

Amendment No. 9 would restrict the power in Clause 21 so as to disqualify from being an MEP only classes of persons who are disqualified from being a member of the House of Assembly of Gibraltar. As with Amendments Nos. 7 and 8, Amendment No. 9 would restrict the power too far.

I hope that those explanations will satisfy the noble Lord that we have responded in a proportionate manner and will reassure him and the House that the powers in Clause 17 relate to matters which are suitable for delegation and which are limited in their scope by the very nature of the Bill.

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for the full explanation that she has given. Indeed, it goes somewhat beyond the explanation given in the letter from the Lord Chancellor to the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee to which I referred.

I accept that there would perhaps be excessive rigidity in amendments on the lines that I have proposed, and that the Government's intentions are indeed proportionate to the purposes which it will be necessary to achieve in order to introduce Gibraltar into the European elections system. Therefore, in the circumstances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 8 not moved.]

Clause 21 [Disqualification from office of MEP]:

[Amendment No. 9 not moved.]

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Community Care (Delayed Discharges etc.) Bill

4.3 p.m.

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons amendments and reasons be now considered.

Moved, That the Commons amendments and reasons be now considered.—(Baroness Andrews.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

[The page and line references are to HL Bill 20 as first printed for the Lords.]

2Clause 1, page 1, line 10, after "person" insert "other than a person receiving mental health services" The Commons disagreed to this amendment for the following reason:

2ABecause it is important for the Bill to be able to apply to all NHS hospital patients and it is discriminatory to exclude patients receiving mental health services.

Baroness Andrews rose to move, That the House do not insist on their Amendment No. 2 to which the Commons have disagreed for their reason numbered 2A, but do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 2B to 2E in lieu thereof.

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