Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform First Report

Arms Control and Disarmament (Inspections) Bill [HL]


14.  The Arms Control and Disarmament (Inspections) Act 1991 makes provision for "challenge inspections" under Section VIII of the Protocol on Inspection included in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe ("CFE Treaty"). Under the 1991 Act, the Secretary of State may authorise an inspection, which gives the inspectors all the rights of entry etc. set out in the Protocol. Obstructing an inspector is an offence punishable on summary conviction by a fine (level 3).

15.  This bill extends the scope of the 1991 Act to include "declared site inspections" and "designated area inspections" under Sections VII and IX respectively of the Protocol (clause 1 and Schedules 1 and 2). This arises partly out of amendments to the CFE Treaty by the Agreement on Adaptation of 1999 which the UK now wishes to ratify.

16.  Clause 2 of the bill caters for possible future amendments to the CFE Treaty by providing for any corresponding changes to the 1991 Act required as a result of the amendments to the CFE Treaty to be made by Order in Council rather than by Act of Parliament. The background is explained at paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's memorandum.


17.  This Henry VIII power would allow an Order in Council to modify the 1991 Act so far as appears necessary for giving effect to further amendments relating to inspections, made to the CFE Treaty. Any Order under this section would be subject to affirmative procedure.

18.  The question arises whether it is appropriate for modification of the 1991 Act to be delegated at all, given that the 1991 Act did not provide for it. There is in principle no reason why there should not be delegation of the function of implementing an international agreement, especially where the delegation (as here) would be limited to implementation of one aspect (inspection) of future amendments to a particular Agreement. However, we have considered whether anything in the subject matter of this bill makes such delegation unsuitable. We have also considered whether there should be a limit set on any penalty for criminal offences should the Order in Council modify section 3 of the 1991 Act.

19.  In view of the limited nature of the power, and the fact that it will be subject to affirmative procedure, we consider that this level of delegation and control is appropriate.


20.  Clause 3(2) is a standard commencement order provision. Clause 3(2) applies to provisions of or under the bill the power already in the 1991 Act to apply provisions of that Act to the Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Gibraltar and military bases in Cyprus. Each of these provisions is appropriate.


21.  There is nothing in the bill which the Committee wishes to draw to the attention of the House.

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