Committee (and remaining stages)

Part of Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill – in the House of Lords at 12:45 am on 7th April 2010.

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Photo of Lord Norton of Louth Lord Norton of Louth Conservative 12:45 am, 7th April 2010

We worked up to the good news. Perhaps I may run through the three amendments. Amendment 8 was designed to change the onus, so in effect it would not make much difference. I think it is important that the onus is placed there but I hear what the noble Lord says.

On Amendment 9, I do not particularly agree with what the noble Lord has argued because the amendment would not place a rigid requirement to consult; it would require the Minister to make every effort to get in touch with and consult the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and other relevant committees. Therefore, it would not necessarily impose a limit on the Minister by preventing him going ahead, as the noble Lord suggested it would. I think he said that in normal circumstances the Minister would make such an effort. I think it is quite valuable to have that duty imposed on the Minister, but it is a duty to make the effort to get in touch and to make every reasonable effort; it is not a rigid imposition. Therefore, a failure to make contact would not bar the Minister from proceeding in the way indicated in the clause. That may be something that we want to look at again in the future.

On Amendment 10, I am extremely grateful for the Minister's response. Given the changes that have been made, I think it is useful to have such a provision in the Bill because it sets out a clear duty. If the House is going to have to consider treaties in order to ratify them, it will be helpful to have the sort of information that is extremely useful for that purpose.

In the light of that, and having heard what the Minister has said, we may want to come back to some of the issues but I am grateful for his acceptance of Amendment 10 and beg leave to withdraw Amendment 8.

Amendment 8 withdrawn.

Clause 25 agreed.

Clause 26 : Section 24 not to apply in exceptional cases

Amendment 9 not moved.

Clause 26 agreed.

Clause 27 agreed.

Amendment 10

Moved by Lord Norton of Louth

10: After Clause 27, insert the following new Clause-

"Explanatory memoranda

In laying a treaty before Parliament under this Part, a Minister shall accompany the treaty with an explanatory memorandum explaining the provisions of the treaty, the reasons for Her Majesty's Government seeking ratification of the treaty, and such other matters as the Minister considers appropriate."

Amendment 10 agreed.

Clause 28 agreed.