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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I welcome the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, because he is the first non-lawyer to have spoken on this subject. The OFT considered the matter, and we considered what it said before drawing the conclusion that the right course was to continue on the basis that I have described, but also to look at the market overall. No doubt, the views of the OFT will be taken into account when we do that.

Children Bill [HL]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland) rose to move, That the amendments for the Report stage be marshalled and considered in the following order:

Clause 1 Schedule 1 Clauses 2 to 7 Clauses 9 to 13 Schedule 2 Clauses 14 to 22 Clauses 24 to 33 Schedule 3 Clauses 34 to 40 Schedule 4 Clauses 41 to 48 Clause 8 Clause 23 Clauses 49 to 53.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I should explain that this order of consideration allows Clauses 8 and 23 to be taken towards the end of the Report stage. That has been agreed through the usual channels for the convenience of the noble Lords concerned.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
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Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Bill

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker) rose to move, That the Bill be recommitted to a Committee of the Whole House in respect of:

(1) Schedules 2 and 4; and

(2) new clauses relating to—

(a) appeals;

(b) support and benefits for asylum seekers, refugees and others; and

(c) treatment of persons subject to immigration control in respect of the procedure for marriage.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Scotland of Asthal, I beg to move the Motion standing in her name on the Order Paper.

The Government have produced some fresh policy in the important areas covered by the Bill, and we believe that these amendments are important and necessary. Asylum and immigration are areas that are subject to unexpected change and require constant review to ensure that the system is robust and resistant to abuse. To allow the House to consider it properly, we have offered to recommit the Bill, and the usual channels have accepted.

We are tabling our amendments today. If this Motion is agreed to, they will be considered in Committee on Tuesday 15 June and on Report provisionally on Monday 28 June.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

Gender Recognition Bill [HL]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Filkin): My Lords, on behalf of my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton, I beg to move that the Commons amendments be now considered.

Moved, That the Commons amendments be now considered.—(Lord Filkin.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


[The page and line refer to HL Bill 56 as first printed for the Lords.]


1 Clause 21, page 8, line 42, at end insert— "(6) Nothing in this section prevents the exercise of any enforceable Community right."

Lord Filkin: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1. This amendment addresses an issue which was discussed at length in Standing Committee in another place.
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Clause 21(1) provides that a person will not be regarded as having changed gender solely by virtue of having changed gender under the law of another country or territory. This is necessary because standards for recognition are not uniform throughout the world, and we wish to ensure that the UK grants recognition only to those individuals who have recognition in a country or territory with criteria at least as rigorous as our own.

Where other countries' criteria are as rigorous as our own, people in that position should receive recognition under a simpler process, and this is provided in Clause 1(1)(b). Conversely, if the recognition is from a country or territory with criteria that do not meet our standards, we believe that, to gain recognition in this country, an individual should have to apply in the standard way, with the gender recognition panels scrutinising a full set of evidence.

Questions were raised in Standing Committee in another place about whether a different approach was warranted for those who have recognition in another country from the European Economic Area. We reviewed the position in light of the comments and concluded that it would be useful to clarify that Clause 21 is subject to any enforceable right under EC law.

The amendment reflects the fact that in practice a national of another country in the European Economic Area who has been granted legal recognition of their gender change in their own country will not need to apply for a UK gender recognition certificate. Equally, no further application will be required for recognition of the post-recognition opposite-sex marriage of an EEA national.

We have recently completed our research on gender recognition across the EEA. This indicates that all the EEA states that have systems for recognition have criteria for recognition that are as rigorous as our own. We expect to add all these states to the list of approved countries, and individuals with recognition there would be able to apply for a UK gender recognition certificate under the simplified process in Clause 1(1)(b) if they wished to do so, but would not be obliged to do so.

This broad mutuality of standards within the EEA also means that the risk that we foresee in extending the principle of mutual recognition any further, and of accepting overseas recognition given on criteria less rigorous than our own, does not arise on the amendment that we have proposed.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1.—(Lord Filkin.)

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister two questions. First, can he explain why the reference is to Community rights and not to European Community rights? Does that involve the issue of rights of people from European Economic Area states or not? It seems slightly odd. Secondly, what will happen if a European Community state grants recognition to someone on the basis of an application that has been made and accepted in a third country, whose standards are not acceptable to the United
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Kingdom? Would such a person become acceptable whether the recognition is endorsed by a European Community country or not?

Lord Filkin: My Lords, on the noble Lord's first question, the changes we are making following the Standing Committee consideration of the issue, simply ensure that the Bill complies with the free movement rights enshrined in Article 48 of the Treaty of Rome 1957. As the House will know, when the UK Government joined the European Community in 1972 we signed up to the various obligations in the Treaty of Rome, and the European Union Community law was given legal effect in the UK by the European Communities Act 1972. If memory serves me right, its effect goes slightly wider than the members of the European Union Community because it also includes Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

I think that addresses the first part of the noble Lord's question. As to the second part, were a member of the European economic area to grant legal recognition to someone from another country, I assume that it would apply its own domestic tests and rights of eligibility. As I said, our research indicates that those countries in the European economic area which grant legal status for recognition to people for a gender change have processes which appear to be at least as rigorous as ours.

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, perhaps I may ask the Minister a complementary question. Is he satisfied that someone who is granted a gender reassignment certificate in this country will be fully accepted throughout the European Community on the basis of our tests? Given that we will not have some of the requirements of other countries—for example, evidence of being a post-operative transsexual—is he satisfied that our citizens will have equal rights when they travel abroad in the European Community?

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