Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: To argue that it did not take up the time and to try and present this as treating an important constitutional measure properly is quite unfair. The point is that all stages of this Bill were

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carried out over two days in the other place. The conventions have been that constitutional Bills are dealt with over a proper passage of time so that people can make points, the Government can think about them and perhaps even come back with a suggestion for change. By tradition, constitutional Bills have always been taken on the Floor of the House of Commons. To try to argue that this Bill was not rushed through the other place in an untimely manner, with many Members’ speeches protesting about the way it was handled, is a little misleading.

Lord Northbrook: Perhaps I may add to my noble friend Lord Forsyth’s comments. At least 17 amendments were put down in Committee in the other place. Only two were actually discussed. I am sorry, but to say that all the amendments put down in Committee were discussed is not the truth.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: Unlike in your Lordships’ House, where every amendment tabled can be debated, amendments are selected in the other place by the Speaker. The system is different. I will not argue which is better, but I find it worth while in your Lordships’ House that we can go through every amendment that is within scope and debate it. It helps us to undertake the scrutiny role which is appropriately ours. I hope that your Lordships feel that the time allocated to this Bill and the proper phasing of it through the different stages is appropriate. As I have already said, the realm Governments were alerted to the drafting change, were given an opportunity to comment and all expressed satisfaction with it.

Lord Lexden: I shall belatedly put my question about what my noble and learned friend was saying about the passage of the legislation in the other realms. Should one infer that if anything goes wrong in any of these realms and the legislation is not implemented, then the legislation falls everywhere and will not be implemented in this realm?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: That is certainly my understanding. That is why we have the implementation clause. Even if we pass this the intention is that the provisions will not commence until all realms have done what is necessary in each of their territories.

Lord Elton: My Lords, as this is the realm in which the Queen is perceived as being principally the head, Supreme Governor, monarch and the rest of it, presumably the legislation in the other realms and territories is, in a sense, consequential. Therefore I was a little surprised to hear that they are already putting things on their statute books while we have not finalised what we are putting on our statute book. The question I again ask is: what is the procedure? The timing, I gather, is terminus ante quem non; there is no time by which we have to get this done, so the pressure is off. The next question is: what do we use that time for and how does it impact on the other members of the Commonwealth and the territories? If we were, for instance, to adopt my noble friend Lord Lang’s eminently sensible

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suggestions—or, indeed, the less sensible, in my view, suggestions of my noble friend Lord Northbrook—would that require those countries which already had something on the statute book to adjust it? Or are they simply saying, “We hereby agree with whatever the United Kingdom Parliament finalises”? It is difficult to know how all this is negotiated and how that affects our dealings in the Chamber.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I will try to help. When we come to later amendments, if there is any further information I can give or anything I say needs to be corrected, I will do so. Some of the realms take the view that under their own procedures they require legislation. It is not for this Parliament to determine what happens in other countries. At Second Reading I reported that a Bill had already passed through the lower House in Canada and had been presented in the upper Chamber. As I said, a Bill was presented to the New Zealand Parliament last week.

Other realms take the lead from this Parliament and have indicated that they do not believe that they will need separate legislation. Their arrangements are such that their head of state will be the person who is the head of state of the United Kingdom. The important point in all of this is that we are passing legislation which will be used in some countries, but it has been done on the basis of an agreement that has been reached.

If the Bill were changed with substantive effect, the other realms would need to adjust their legislation where they are legislating and make sure that the same changes are given effect. That would obviously require the agreement reached between the 16 realms.

As I indicated earlier, the amendment that was moved in the other place was circulated and the other realms were given the opportunity to comment before it was brought forward. They indicated that they were fine. I do not think that it was a substantive amendment, but it was nevertheless one on which we sought to ensure that there was proper consultation and information given and an opportunity to comment. Clearly, if there were a change with substantive effect, that would require further agreement.

Lord Elton: Is it a matter of interest in Canada, for instance, whether the number six, 12 or four appears in the Bill at the point we were looking at just now? If so, what will the Canadians do about it?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I do not think that I have seen the Canadian legislation but, in as much as it is giving effect to the same agreement, I would anticipate that the number six is there. If there were to be change, as I indicated in my previous contribution, that would have to be agreed with all the other realms. I will stand corrected, and in response to my noble friend Lord Trefgarne’s subsequent amendment I can clarify that. However, my understanding is that all the realms would have to agree if there was a substantive change.

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Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: Why did the Government choose to go about this in this rather unconventional way? Why did the Executive agree with other heads of government a process rather than asking Parliament to consider legislation and then seek agreement from the other interested states, which would also have given their parliamentarians an opportunity to be involved in the process?

5.15 pm

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I do not necessarily accept that it is unconventional. If this Parliament had decided what it wished to do and dictated the matter to the other realms—that have legitimate interest in who is their head of state—it would not have been consistent with the notion of countries such as Australia and New Zealand being independent from the United Kingdom. It was always anticipated that if there were to be a change, agreement would be reached. However, as I said in an exchange during the first amendment with my noble friend Lord Trefgarne, it was important that we sought to get agreement among all the realms and for the changes to be implemented as appropriate in each country. It would have been wrong if we had dictated what the terms should be. Considerable agreement was reached, which New Zealand was responsible for co-ordinating.

It is not as unprecedented as it sometimes sounds; we agree international treaties which Parliament is then asked to ratify. This is not exactly on the same lines but it is important to have that agreement. At the time, everyone seemed to think it was right to seek agreement and then to put the proposals before Parliament. This is a process which predates this Government and has been going on for some time.

Lord Cormack: Is my noble and learned friend saying that, because the Prime Minister has given that undertaking to international colleagues, we ratify this in every last particular? Or is he saying that we have the parliamentary process and therefore while we must adhere to the principles we can deal with the detail? There is a very big difference between the two, so which is it? Do we have the authority, as a House and as a Parliament, to alter the details, from six to 12 for instance, or do we not? If not, it is frankly an abuse of parliamentary procedure.

Lord Northbrook: As a supplementary, could I ask whether having been amended in the Commons, the Bill now has to be reapproved by the heads of government?

The Earl of Erroll: On that subject, I may be able to assist. It depends on whether they passed Acts in the parliaments to say that they would agree to whatever we do or whether they try to enact the particular provisions. It would be worth the Minister looking at how they implemented it in Canada or Australia. Did they say, “We will assent to whatever”, or did they say, “This is what we are going to do”? For simplicity, I suspect that they may have gone down the route of saying, “We will assent to whatever the UK Parliament decides”. If so, it solves the problem; though the Executive may enter into treaties on behalf of the

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Crown, it is for Parliament to enact the rules that govern the Executive and therefore Parliament legislates and forms the principles of these things. If this were a treaty, I would have said it was then in the power of the Executive to agree this. If it is not a treaty, it is in Parliament’s remit to decide what is done. I suggest the Minister should look at how these countries have enacted it into their local laws.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, different realms do it in different ways. To pick up the point of the noble Lord, Lord Northbrook, with regard to the amendment raised by my noble friend Lord Elton—on the same subject matter we are discussing now—it does not change the substance of the agreement but rather seeks to remove a possible ambiguity. It was circulated among the other realms, their comments were sought and they were satisfied with that.

With regard to the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, I understand different realms are dealing with this in different ways. At least one of them, I think, is saying that it approves of the law passed by the United Kingdom Parliament. Others are approving more substantive legislation, and some believe no legislation is necessary at all. It varies, but at the heart of it was an agreement on the substance—namely, the removal of male bias in terms of succession to the Throne; the removal of the barrier of the person in line of succession marrying a Roman Catholic; and the abolition of the Royal Marriages Act 1772 and its replacement with the sovereign’s consent for the first six in line. Earlier, in my response to my noble friend Lord Lang, I indicated that I do not think that that was in the original Perth agreement but was subsequently agreed. The number of six was agreed with the realms.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: I am most grateful to my noble and learned friend. Will he be kind enough to write to those of us who have an interest detailing how each of the realms concerned will deal with this matter? Would there be any merit in us trying to persuade those parliaments perhaps to accept my noble friend Lord Lang’s injunction to change from six to 12? If one of them did so, what would happen then? Would we have to go back and look at it again? How would it be resolved?

Lord Cormack: Further to that and, in a sense, even more pertinent, if this Bill should pass Report stage in this House and the other place endorses the change of six to 12, is my noble friend saying that that would invalidate this international agreement? Does this Parliament have authority in this matter or not?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Forsyth asked about being informed. Obviously, developments are in train. I will try to give him and others who have contributed information as up to date as possible. With regard to my noble friend Lord Cormack’s question, if we were to make a substantive change, before any implementation could take place, we would have to ensure that there was agreement among all the realms. On a substantive matter such as the six to 12, it would not be a happy situation to have a disjunction between the realms.

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Lord Elton: My Lords, I am much obliged to my noble and learned friend. I think that my noble friend Lord Cormack’s intervention draws to my attention one of the great dangers that we are in, which I fell into myself a little earlier in these exchanges; namely, the danger of treating ourselves as the big brother who tells everyone else that they have to follow. Things have changed since then, and in these exchanges we need to deal courteously with those with whom we are associated. My intention was not to say that we were the most important realm or that this was the principal realm of the Queen, but to say that, since we were the initiators of this move, naturally we would be the ones who would hope that others would follow.

I think that I have given my noble and learned friend a good opportunity to understand some of our underlying concerns. I hope that when he comes back to the Dispatch Box on Report he will be able to give us a pretty cut-and-dried, laminated explanation of exactly how all this is working, which can go into the record. A letter would be very welcome as a preliminary, but we should have something to indicate that Parliament knows what is going on. I am most grateful for the full answers that my noble and learned friend has given to this probing amendment and I beg leave to withdraw it.

Amendment 13A withdrawn.

Amendment 14 not moved.

Amendment 15

Moved by Lord Trefgarne

15: Clause 3, page 2, line 16, at end insert—

“(7) No consent granted or refused under this section shall be challenged in any court of the United Kingdom.”

Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, this is a probing amendment. I am anxious to know—I believe that others may be as well—whether a consent granted or refused by the sovereign in respect of a marriage to which he or she is required to give consent can be challenged in the court by means of judicial review. I should be grateful if my noble and learned friend would clarify the position.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Trefgarne for raising an issue which I think he raised at Second Reading. The effect of his amendment would be to ensure that in no instance could the sovereign’s consent or otherwise to a royal marriage be challenged in the courts. It has to be said that over the 240 years when consent has been required, it has not been tested in the courts. But in the Government’s view the decision, given that it is a decision taken by the sovereign, could not be challenged in the sovereign’s courts. We do not believe it to be necessary to provide for this in the Bill. Indeed, whether the number is six or 12, it is an unlikely event that someone so close to the Throne would contemplate such an action. My point is that the decision would be one made by the sovereign and would not be challengeable in the courts of the sovereign.

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Lord True: My Lords, as I said earlier, is it not the case that in the early 1830s Augustus d'Este, the son of the Duke of Sussex by a marriage unapproved under the Royal Marriages Act 1772, did in fact posit documents in Chancery to challenge the legitimacy of the action? Furthermore, in 1843 papers were put before the Committee for Privileges of this House, and the case was heard by this House in 1844. There is certainly an historic precedent and, as I mentioned in passing, a challenge. Some of the issues that came up today are perhaps rather wider than Clause 3. To my mind, this goes to reinforce the points made by a number of noble Lords about the need for absolute clarity, and the fortification of what we are doing against potential challenge in the courts that now exists.

Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, I hope that between now and the next stage the noble and learned Lord may on reflection be able to offer a more forthright assurance than that which he has been able to give so far, if I may say so. The fact is that the process for judicial review in this country is a comparatively new one. It has only been going for the last 15 or 20 years. Therefore the fact of there being no precedent is not much of a comfort to the noble and learned Lord, if I may say so. I would be grateful if he would consider this further before the next stage and perhaps take into account the case referred to by my noble friend Lord True.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: I shall certainly reflect on it further. It will not come as a surprise to my noble friend that this has already been the subject of some reflection. However, if he indeed wishes to return to this at Report, we will do so. To take up the point made by my noble friend Lord True about the Sussex peerage case, my understanding is that this case was not about whether consent had been refused unlawfully. I think the issue was that consent had not actually been sought.

Lord True: I do not wish to detain the House, but I think the contention of the gentleman concerned was that the marriage had been celebrated outside the country and was therefore outside the jurisdiction. That case was not caught by a potential forfeit.

Lord Trefgarne: If I may say so to my noble and learned friend, there is clearly scope for some further reflection on this matter. I will raise this at the next stage of the Bill. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 15 withdrawn.

Clause 3 agreed.

Clause 4 agreed.

Clause 5: Commencement and short title

Amendment 16

Moved by Lord Trefgarne

16: Clause 5, page 2, line 29, leave out subsection (2) and insert—

“(2) The other provisions of this Act shall be brought into force by statutory instrument subject to the approval of both Houses of Parliament.”

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Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, under the Bill as it is presently before us, I refer to subsection (2) of Clause 5, which states that:

“The other provisions of this Act come into force on such day and at such time as the Lord President of the Council may by order made by statutory instrument appoint.”

The Lord President of the Council is of course my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister, for whom nobody has greater respect than I do—most of the time, anyway. Is it really right that a major piece of constitutional change, such as is represented by this Bill, should be brought into force by the diktat of one sole Minister, however distinguished and however senior, without any sort of further parliamentary involvement? I really do not think that is right. I do not in any way wish to make this a personal matter, but I do not think that any Minister should have this power regarding a major, important constitutional change of this kind. I hope that on reflection my noble and learned friend will agree. Therefore, I beg to move the amendment standing in my name.

5.30 pm

Lord Cormack: My Lords, although not entirely relevant to the amendment, it would be very helpful if when my noble and learned friend responds he could give us some indication of when we are likely to have the Report stage, because a lot of matters have been raised this afternoon—I can see my noble friend Lord Trefgarne nodding—about which many of us remain either mildly or even acutely concerned. Some of us would like to have conversations with him on some of these issues. I hope that there will be time, because the one thing that has not been made clear during today’s deliberations is the need for rushing this legislation. I hope that there will be adequate time between now and Report, and between Report and Third Reading. I fully appreciate that my noble and learned friend is not in charge of the business arrangements of the House, but if he would give us some rough idea of when we are likely to debate these matters next, I think that it would be helpful to all of us.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara: My Lords, the two amendments in this group would give us an alternative way of bringing the Bill’s provisions into force. Amendment 17 slightly overlooks the point that local parliamentary approval is not necessary in all realm Parliaments as we have discussed, so it perhaps should not be taken forward at this stage. However, I am interested in Amendment 16, because it plays to some of the strands of discussion that we have had both at Second Reading and today. For instance, the Minister addressed at Second Reading the issue of whether the Bill was being fast-tracked. He said:

“I accept that the Explanatory Memorandum states that, but in fact the Government in the other place paid regard to what was said by your Lordships’ Constitution Committee”.—[Official Report, 14/2/13; col. 829.]

He went on to explain that, because the Bill has retrospective effect, there is no significant time pressure, and certainly not sufficient to warrant fast-tracking—that point has been picked up and talked about a bit today.

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The Constitution Committee was therefore listened to in respect of the time allocation, but it also drew attention to the constitutional importance of the Bill—which, again, the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, has talked about. It is this point that I am interested in. There is obviously a case for moving the legislation forward in a way which minimises any possibility of getting out of sync with the other realms, and we must have regard to that, but there is another strand, which is that this is a major constitutional position. We are all, I think, agreed on that point, if we are not agreed on how much of it we need to deal with in this process.

In some ways, what is being proposed seems pretty hole-in-the-corner stuff. Would it not play to the advantages which the noble and learned Lord has been claiming for the Bill if it were given the full parliamentary approval process for secondary legislation; in other words, going through both Houses of Parliament and being agreed by both Houses? I know that it would be more onerous and would involve a little more time and effort on the part of the Minister and his officials, but it would mean that we had the evidence that all the other realms had looked at the Bill properly and considered it. We would have the detail about which ones had put forward a different or alternative version of the words—we could check whether exactly the same intent was being imported by the words being used in those local areas—and we would have the reassurance that everything had been done, with all the “t”s crossed and the “i”s dotted. It is in that sense that I suggest to the Minister that we should think about bringing in this process.

Something that is in the control of this House and this Parliament does not affect how others do it but would play back to our sensibility that this is an important Bill worthy of the detailed scrutiny that we have given it today but worthy also of the other appurtenances that go with constitutional measures.

Perhaps I may respond on behalf of the Government in terms of where we are on the process: Forthcoming Business has the Report stage of the Succession to the Crown Bill down for Wednesday 13 March.

Lord Northbrook: Perhaps I may draw the Minister’s attention to something of which I have already given him notice in respect of Amendment 17; namely, the House of Lords Library paper on the Succession to the Crown Bill. It says, in summary, that when there is constitutional change there have to be referenda in the following countries: Australia, Jamaica, the Bahamas, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua, Barbados and St Kitts and Nevis. Could he confirm that the Library is correct on these matters and, again, how the timing might take place?

Lord Elton: My Lords, I think that that falls outside the terms of the amendment. If I could return to my noble friend’s question, surely the answer to his worry is quite simple: at the end of line 31, insert the words, “subject to approval by both Houses”.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords, I was quite struck by an argument that my noble and learned friend used in an earlier amendment when he chided

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me, in arguing that it was important that Parliament was able to take account of the arguments of other parliaments, and suggested that I might be presenting this Parliament as dictating—as opposed to the Executive; it is okay for Ministers to decide things over lunch, but it would be dictating if Parliament made decisions. I see that he has a point there; if we had brought this legislation through both Houses, there might be a feeling in the other realms that we had it all cut and dried.

I have been reflecting on that in a humble way, and have been so persuaded by my noble and learned friend’s argument that I think that the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, has got it 100% right. If, as my noble friend Lord Elton has just suggested, we were to amend the commencement provision to require approval by both Houses after the other realms had considered these matters, then we would have an opportunity to demonstrate to all those other realms how we were taking account of the views not just of their Ministers but of their parliamentarians. This proposal is actually a clever and ingenious way of delivering what the Minister himself said was appropriate only a few moments ago.

Lord Northbrook: My Lords, my queries actually applied to Amendment 17, which I think is grouped with this one.

Lord True: My Lords, what has been said about the Deputy Prime Minister, for whom I share respect, is valid: specifying that particular Minister is a slightly questionable way of proceeding. Will my noble and learned friend confirm that it is not part of the Perth agreement that the Deputy Prime Minister should be personally responsible, so that we can look at that matter at a later stage?

To be fair to the Deputy Prime Minister, he has taken a major part in pushing this forward, and I think that that is acknowledged, but we must not be seen to be getting into a position where a young couple whose child is to be born are exploited in any way politically. We do not want grand press conferences by any particular Minister saying, “This is all happening, if this baby is a girl, because of what I have done”, and so on. I am sure that the Deputy Prime Minister would not fall into that temptation, but perhaps if Parliament, in its wisdom, slightly depersonalised the amendment on Report, as my noble friend Lord Trefgarne proposes, there might be wisdom in that.

Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, I would like to say a few words about Amendment 17, which I believe is grouped with this one. That is a slightly separate point, if I may say so. I am picking up the point that my noble friend Lord Northbrook has made, that the parliamentary approval process in many of the Commonwealth countries includes a referendum and is over and above whatever Ministers may have agreed over lunch, as my noble friend Lord Forsyth put it. The fact is that parliamentary approval is required in most, if not all, the Commonwealth countries concerned, and in some of them a referendum is also required. Presumably that cannot be done

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overnight, so it would be better if the Bill came into force when all the Commonwealth countries had consented to it.

We have a problem if some of the countries approve and some do not. You would not have to think too tortuously to conceive of a situation at some future point where the late sovereign’s eldest child in one country was to be their head of state and the second child, who was a boy, was head of state of another. That is clearly absurd, so we need to speak with one voice on this matter as far as the Commonwealth is concerned. It might therefore be best to wait until they have all agreed.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, this picks up on some issues that were debated earlier. I should clarify that the reason why the Bill specifies the Lord President is that the ministerial responsibility for constitutional and elections law currently rests with him. The Privy Council is also involved in constitutional matters. Indeed, credit should go to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister because I do not think that my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister was in Perth. It was not simply a case of discussing this matter over lunch; it was more than that. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, was involved in this issue in a previous incarnation under the previous Administration.

Lord Stevenson of Balmacara: I certainly was not involved in any lunches.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: The noble Lord may not have been involved in any lunches but I think that he was involved in efforts at No. 10 to try to forge some of the agreements to take this matter forward. That indicates that this issue did not suddenly emerge at the Commonwealth Heads of Government conference in Perth, Australia. It was the opportune time, with the Heads of Government being present, for that agreement to be finalised, but a considerable amount of work and discussion went on ahead of that. As I have indicated, the reason why the Lord President is referred to is due to the current ministerial responsibilities.

I am not wholly unsympathetic to the idea that we might have a subsequent form of approval, but it is not common for Parliament to approve commencement orders. This is a commencement order. It is not as if it is an order that will make amendments to anything or promulgate a new set of regulations; it simply commences something which Parliament will already have approved through the proper parliamentary procedures. Indeed, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, whose reports the House sets great store by, found no fault with this provision. Given that this matter has been debated, I wonder what further steps we could take. The noble Lord, Lord Stevenson, indicated that there might be an opportunity to reassure both Houses that each of the realms had done what was necessary under their own provisions. I am very sceptical about that but it does service to the arguments that have been put to consider it. We have made it clear—I must again give this reassurance—that we will commence

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the legislation only once we are satisfied that each realm has taken the necessary steps to give effect to the changes. There is flexibility in the commencement date to ensure that the laws across the realms are consistently applied.

My noble friend Lord Northbrook raised the question of referendums. This was also picked up by my noble friend Lord Trefgarne. My understanding is that referendums would be necessary in other realms only if they decided to amend their constitutions. We do not believe that any realm intends to do so. Officials working on this legislation do their utmost to try to keep in touch with the different realms and they have been given no indication by any realm that it intends to hold a referendum. However, as I indicated to my noble friend Lord Forsyth on an earlier amendment, I will do my best to give an update on where each realm is in terms of what process they are proposing. Perhaps in that context I could helpfully clarify the position on referendums. However, I emphasise to your Lordships’ House that it is our understanding that no realm has flagged up that it intends to have a referendum.

Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, I am happy to accept that and I am sure that my noble and learned friend means what he says. However, I had heard that different referenda were needed in the different states of Australia. I hope that he can tell me that I am wrong about that.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, I repeat that I have not heard about any referendums. The Council of Australian Governments is currently considering the means by which Australia will implement the changes to the laws of succession. It is quite properly a matter for each realm to determine for itself how it should do this. I will try to update the House on these matters as best I can.

Lord Northbrook: Under Section 28 of the Constitution Act in Australia, the proposed law should be submitted in each state and territory to the electors qualified to vote for election of members in the House of Representatives.

5.45 pm

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: As I indicated, it is up to each country to do it. We are not telling each country what to do and no one is suggesting that. It will be up to each country to determine, according to their own procedures, how that should be done. The key point is the flexibility built into the commencement clause: it will not be given effect to until we are satisfied that all realms have, by whatever procedures they consider proper and necessary, reached that position.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: I need to be absolutely certain that I understand what my noble and learned friend has been saying. Is he saying that this legislation will not come into effect until it has been approved by all the realms? Is he also saying that this legislation will not come into effect unless and until all its provisions have been approved to the letter by all these realms? In

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other words, is he saying that if there is a difference of a minor degree between one realm and the legislation then the legislation would not be taken forward?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, as I indicated at Second Reading, the intent is that it should be simultaneous commencement in each realm and therefore, by definition, it will not be brought into effect here. Clause 5 will come into effect on the day on which the Act is passed, but that is the commencement section. Otherwise, that then gives effect to what else is there in terms of the commencement order. If there is a material difference we would clearly not be in a position to commence. I think it was my noble friend who made the point that it would not be a very satisfactory position if two generations down the line the Crown went in one direction in one realm and in another direction in another realm. That is what we are seeking to avoid, that is why there was such an effort made to reach agreement and that is why it is important that, in translating that agreement, each realm does that by whatever means it thinks is appropriate according to its own procedures. When these are all done and delivering on the agreement has been reached, the commencement order would be made to ensure that commencement started simultaneously in each realm, delivering the same things.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: I do not want to detain the House or split hairs but my noble and learned friend said, “If there is a material difference”. I would not say that my noble friend Lord Lang’s amendment, which suggested changing from six to 12, made a material difference to the import or impact of the Bill. I would say that it was a perfectly sensible, minor adjustment. However, if one of the other realms, overwhelmed by the power of the argument put by my noble friend this afternoon, decided to change it from six to 12, would that mean that commencement would not proceed?

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: There is an agreement reached and it is up to each realm to implement the agreement. If that agreement is, somehow or another, not implemented in a realm, then we do not have the unanimity to permit commencement.

Lord Cormack: My noble and learned friend deserves a gold medal for patience and good, even temper. He is much admired for that, and I mean that very sincerely. Could he confirm that 13 March is, indeed, the date? Will he produce for us, before that date, a list of precisely what is required in each realm? There seems to be some disagreement: my noble friend Lord Northbrook referred to the necessity for referenda but my noble and learned friend seemed to think there was no necessity. It would be very helpful and conducive to good debate and discussion in this place if, on Report, we had a piece of paper which lists the countries, lists the process and gives the date where we are at the moment.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: I apologise to my noble friend because I forgot about his point on that. The Future Business indeed indicates that Report will be on 13 March. I know that during these

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deliberations, I have indicated on more than one occasion a willingness to meet one or more of your Lordships. Someone from my private office is in the Box and will, no doubt, be noting that. I will certainly endeavour to ensure that purposeful meetings can take place and provide an opportunity for discussion in time for any amendments that noble Lords wish to table.

With regard to the list, I should say to my noble friend Lord Forsyth that the reason I perhaps hesitate to say how up to date we can get is that that is something I have been asking for. I understand that being bang up to date and complete is more challenging than it may seem. My officials have obviously heard this debate, and I assure the House that we will make the position as up to date as we can.

Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 16 withdrawn.

Amendment 17 not moved.

Clause 5 agreed.

Schedule: Consequential amendments

Amendment 18

Moved by Lord Northbrook

18: The Schedule, page 3, leave out lines 3 to 9

Lord Northbrook: My Lords, we now move to the schedule to the Bill and another history lesson—the arcane matter of the Treason Act 1351, which most noble Lords will probably be surprised is still in existence.

One crime of treason that still exists is where a person owing allegiance to the Crown rapes either the King’s wife, the eldest daughter—if unmarried—or the wife of the eldest son and heir, who, in old French is,

“la compaigne leisne fitz & heir”.

In the past, such a person would be hung, drawn and quartered. Later, that was replaced by the death penalty, and now, following the abolition of the death penalty, the sentence would be life imprisonment. However, this crime has had no precedent in 660 years. Some people believe that two of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, were executed under this Act. They were alleged to have had sex with others, but the word “violer” was used, and it was likely that they were not executed under this Act but under separate treason legislation at the time.

There has therefore been no precedent after 660 years, but the amendment seeks to amend the wording of the Treason Act 1351 to,

“eldest son if the heir”.

The Minister has said that the Bill is not a vehicle for UK-specific policy. However, Graham McBain, the eminent lawyer, believes that it is ridiculous to change

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a law that has no force anyway in the relevant Commonwealth countries. It has not been used in the UK for 660 years and my view is reinforced by a royal commission report of 1878 and a Law Commission report of 1972. The consequential amendment should therefore be deleted from the schedule. I beg to move.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My Lords, as my noble friend said, the amendment removes the consequential amendments to the Treason Act 1351, which are necessary to ensure that the Act continues to have effect, given that the eldest son may not be the heir—in other words, if there is an older daughter and heir. I understand why my noble friend wishes to see the repeal of parts of the Treason Act, and he has rightly identified that the purpose of the Bill is not to deal with UK-specific issues.

I am tempted to observe that if all parts of criminal legislation that pass through your Lordships’ House have such a deterrent effect that no one offends against it for 660 years, we would be very satisfied. However, the point is that the purpose is to bring the provisions of the Bill into effect. It is a purely consequential change. However, I take the point made by my noble friend. As he is aware, there is more recent legislation relevant to treason and I have noted that the Law Commission has treason noted as a “simplification/codification project”. It will be interesting to see what recommendations it provides, but I do not think that this is the place to have a more fundamental review of the treason legislation. If, however, this legislation is to be on our statute book, it is important that it is consistent.

Lord Northbrook: I am grateful to the Minister for his reply and beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment 18 withdrawn.

Amendments 19 to 22 not moved.

Amendment 23

Moved by Lord Northbrook

23: The Schedule, page 3, leave out lines 19 to 23

Lord Northbrook: My Lords, I believe that the consequential amendment in the schedule is unnecessary, as it is already contained in Section 12 of the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829. I was not sure whether that should be repealed and am a little confused in this area.

Lord Wallace of Tankerness: My noble friend’s amendment removes the consequential amendments to the Regency Act, which are necessary to ensure that a person who has married without consent, and therefore loses their place in the line of succession, is also disqualified from being regent. I can assure my noble friend that this consequential amendment is necessary to harmonise the legislation, but also that there is no mistake in not going further and providing for a non-Protestant regent. This takes us back to an earlier debate, because in the sovereign’s absence, the

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regent undertakes duties related to the sovereign’s position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England and must therefore be a Protestant. That is what underlies this: it is to ensure that there is consistency, given the provisions of this Bill. I therefore invite my noble friend to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Northbrook: I am grateful to the Minister for his response, and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Amendment 23 withdrawn.

Schedule agreed.

House resumed.

Bill reported without amendment.

House adjourned at 5.57 pm.