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I beg to move amendment No. 22, in
clause 42, page 21, line 1, leave out 'before 31st January 2002' and insert
', whether made before or after the passing of this Act,'.
Clause 42 will validate retrospectively the appointment and acts of several foreign magistrates who are not nationals but who were appointed before 31 January 2002 in unwitting breach of the nationality requirements of the Act of Settlement 1700. The amendment would avert the effect of the Act of Settlement in respect of lay magistrates. During the debate on the Bill in another place, Lord Goodhart attempted to introduce a similar amendment. My noble Friend Baroness Scotland gave an undertaking that we would consider what he was suggesting and table such an amendment during our consideration of the Bill, even though future legislation is planned in respect of nationality and the civil service.
As will be clear from the amendment, we have decided to legislate on the point at this stage. It will enable Ministers to operate a more flexible approach to appointing people who are not necessarily citizens of the UK, the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland and avoid potentially embarrassing legal challenges arising from EU legislation. Given that it is the policy of the Department for Constitutional Affairs to broaden the recruitment base for lay magistrates, it is something that should be welcome. The form of discrimination set out in the provision is now defunct and should be changed by the amendment. I hope that the Committee will agree.
but my noble friends Baroness Anelay of St. Johns and Lord Renton have expressed their worries about the matter. It is undoubtedly an improvement to the Bill and it shows that there is a purpose in our debating such matters. Both Houses can achieve a better Bill. The amendment removes an anomaly and we welcome the Government's change of mind to recognise what was rightly said from our Benches and the Liberal Democrat Benches in another place.