Lords Amendment

– in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 23rd July 2002.

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17Before Clause 7, insert the following new clause—

"Guidance about the exercise of functions under control orders

(1) This section applies to licensing powers and other functions conferred by a control order on any person in connection with controls imposed under this Act.

(2) The Secretary of State may give guidance about any matter relating to the exercise of any licensing power or other function to which this section applies.

(3) But the Secretary of State must give guidance about the general principles to be followed when exercising licensing powers to which this section applies.

(4) Where—

(a) the description of thing being controlled is within one or more of the categories mentioned in the Schedule; or

(b) the activity being controlled could have one or more of the possible consequences that are of a kind mentioned in the Table in paragraph 3 of the Schedule, the guidance required by subsection (3) must state that regard shall be had, when exercising such powers, to—

(i) issues relating to sustainable development; and

(ii) issues relating to any possible consequences of the activity being controlled that are of a kind mentioned in the Table in paragraph 3 of the Schedule; but this subsection does not restrict the matters which may be addressed in guidance.

(5) Any person exercising a licensing power or other function to which this section applies shall have to any guidance which relates to that power or other function.

(6) A copy of any guidance shall be laid before Parliament and published in such manner as the Secretary of State may think fit.

(7) In this section "guidance" means guidance stating that it is given under this section.

(8) The consolidated criteria relating to export licensing decisions announced to Parliament by the Secretary of State on 26th October 2000 shall (until withdrawn or varied under this section) be treated as guidance which—

(a) is given and published under this section; and

(b) fulfils the duty imposed by subsection (3) in respect of any export controls and transfer controls which may be imposed in relation to goods or technology of a description falling within paragraph 1 or 2 of the Schedule."

The Commons agreed to this amendment with the following amendment—

17A Line 12, leave out from beginning to end of line 18 and insert, "The guidance required by subsection (3) must include guidance about the consideration (if any) to be given,"

Photo of Lord Sainsbury of Turville Lord Sainsbury of Turville Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Science and Innovation), Department of Trade and Industry, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Trade and Industry) (Science and Innovation)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 17A to Lords Amendment No. 17. I have already spoken to these amendments.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No.17A as an amendment to Lords Amendment No. 17.—(Lord Sainsbury of Turville.)

Photo of Lord Joffe Lord Joffe Crossbench

moved, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 17A, Amendment No. 17B:

Line 2, leave out from "must" to end and insert "state that consideration shall be given, so far as relevant,".

Photo of Lord Joffe Lord Joffe Crossbench

I have already spoken to this amendment, but I take the opportunity to deal with some of the Minister's responses. The amendment accepts that the Government need discretion in making decisions on the export of arms. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford pointed out, the question is: how much discretion do the Government need? I do not believe that the degree of discretion which the words "if any" give is justified.

I welcome the Minister's assurance, but while I would accept without hesitation any personal commitment that the Minister gives, as the noble Lord, Lord Judd, pointed out the Government have not always abided by their commitment. I remind the Minister that as regards their manifesto commitment to ban the traffic in arms wherever that may take place, the Government have most clearly not honoured it.

I do not accept the dangers of conflict which the European Union pose and which the Minister so vividly described. I do not believe that there is a conflict. Matrix Chambers has confirmed that there is no conflict. I remind the Minister and the House of the preamble to the European code which states clearly that these are minimum standards.

It is sad that the Government, having delivered this excellent Bill, should be so steadfast in their refusal to consider a most obvious amendment which poses no dangers at all and which is consistent with the Government's approach. There is a feeling among the NGO consortium, the NGO generally, and among government supporters, that by failing to accept this amendment and pursuing the Government's weasel words "if any", they discredit what is really an excellent and admirable Bill. With that in mind I wish to test the opinion of the House.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 17B) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 74; Not-Contents, 142.

Division number 1 Private Parking: Ports and Trading Estates — Lords Amendment

Aye: 72 Members of the House of Lords

No: 140 Members of the House of Lords

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

On Question, Amendment No.17A agreed to.

Bill returned to the Commons with amendments.