Clause 43 - Application of Part to Wales

Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 10th November 2015.

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Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Civil Liberties) 3:00 pm, 10th November 2015

I beg to move amendment 246, in clause 43, page 39, line 23, at end insert—

‘(4) This Part does not apply to Scotland.”

I have set out why I do not want this measure to be part of United Kingdom legislation, so this is really just to make the argument that if the rest of the United Kingdom does, indeed, want it—I have set out the different experiences of Members in the different countries—then it should not stand in Scotland.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

I gently remind the hon. Lady that the title of clause 43 is “Application of Part to Wales”. I see the point she is making, so I do not want to make too lawyerly a point, but the provision relates to Wales rather than Scotland.

The purpose of the hon. Lady’s amendment is to exclude Scotland from the whole of part 7. Subsections (3) and (4) of clause 39—the governing clause of this part of the Bill—provide that the requirement for customer-facing public sector workers to speak fluent English applies in Scotland only to the extent that a public authority exercises functions related to a reserved matter.

Hon. Members may not be aware of a letter sent on 3 November from the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights in the Scottish Government, Mr Alex Neil, to my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General. In that letter, Mr Neil acknowledges that this  part of the Bill will only apply to reserved matters, and we agree that any further extension into devolved matters would require a legislative consent motion.

I am grateful to Mr Neil and his team for the work that has been done with members of the British Government and the discussions with Scottish Government officials that have resulted in this proposal. I am also grateful to him for instructing his officials to ensure that the Cabinet Office received every support in understanding the landscape of the reserve public sector in Scotland. Such lines of contact have been established, and indeed the consultation continues. For all those reasons, I very much hope that the hon. Member for Glasgow North East will withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Anne McLaughlin Anne McLaughlin Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Civil Liberties)

On a point of clarification, Mr Owen. Being a new MP and a new member of the Committee, I am a bit confused by the gentle reminder that the Minister gave me. Amendment 246 says:

“This Part does not apply to Scotland.”

I am not entirely sure what the Minister was referring to when he mentioned Wales—I am just looking for a bit of guidance on that. Do we have different pieces of paper?

Photo of Albert Owen Albert Owen Labour, Ynys Môn

I will try to help the hon. Lady. The title of clause 43 is:

“Application of Part to Wales”.

It is not possible to amend the title of a clause; I think the Minister was explaining that. Does the hon. Lady wish to withdraw the amendment?

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The Committee divided: Ayes 2, Noes 9.

Division number 32 Decision Time — Clause 43 - Application of Part to Wales

Aye: 2 MPs

No: 9 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

As alluded to in the previous debate, clause 43 sets out how part 7 will apply to public authorities exercising functions of a public nature in Wales. I am grateful to the Clerk to the Committee for confirming my understanding that the clause title is not an amendable part of the Bill but an indicative description of the clause.

The arrangements relating to Wales are subject to a legislative consent motion in the National Assembly for Wales. Subsection (1) makes it clear that a public authority  would be in the scope of the duty whether it carries out functions in Wales only or, if in Wales and England, to the extent that it carries out functions in Wales. The duty will apply to all public authorities, whether they carry out services relevant to a devolved or to a reserved matter, hence the need for the legislative consent motion.

Subsections (2) and (3) make it explicit that in respect of such public authorities any reference to spoken English in that part of the legislation should be read as references to spoken Welsh or English. Subject to the approval of the National Assembly, officials would work closely with the Welsh Language Commissioner to ensure that the requirements of the duty are in line with existing standards in Welsh, set out in the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 43 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 44 and 45 ordered to stand part of the Bill.