Armed Forces Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:45 pm on 25th March 2021.
With this it will be convenient to discuss clauses 20 and 21 stand part.
Clause 19 confirms that a British overseas territory can rely on section 357 of the Armed Forces Act 2006 to apply the UK service justice system to a British overseas territory force even if the section does not extend to that territory. The clause is necessary as the UK Government and the Government of Gibraltar have been working on Gibraltar legislation, which would bring the Royal Gibraltar Regiment into the UK service justice system in reliance on section 357.
Chair, can the Minister slow down? He is going at a rate of knots here.
Sorry—was that an intervention, or a complaint?
It is a complaint to the Chair, asking the Minister to slow down; he is rabbiting on at such a rapid rate of knots that I cannot hear a word.
I do not think that is rabbiting on. I think that is a very personal insult, Chair. Is there a point of order or an intervention, or shall I carry on?
Order. Minister, please carry on. I urge you to slow down in accordance with the Member’s wishes.
I will of course slow down my speaking to make sure my hon. Friend can clearly understand what I am saying.
I am terribly sorry—my right hon. Friend, with emphasis on the friend.
The clause is necessary because the UK Government and the Government of Gibraltar have been working on Gibraltar legislation, which would bring the Royal Gibraltar Regiment into the UK service justice system in reliance on section 357. This is the first time that a British overseas territory has made use of section 357.
Unlike other British overseas territories, as a result of amendments made in 2011 and 2016, the Armed Forces Act 2006 no longer extends to Gibraltar. This clause therefore confirms that the Government of Gibraltar can make use of section 357 of the Armed Forces Act 2006 to apply the service justice system contained in the Act, with or without amendment, to the Royal Gibraltar Regiment.
I have a question about the circumstances under which the Royal Gibraltar Regiment would use the powers and on what occasions. How many times is it envisaged that it will do so?
Is my right hon. Friend asking me to predict the future? Is he asking how many times they are going to use this power?
I want to know on what type of occasions they will use the power and whether the Department has done any estimates of how often it will be used.
The clause simply brings the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and the use of section 357 of the Armed Forces Act into line with our other overseas territories. It is simply about aligning what happened when the 2006 Act came in. The amendments that were made in 2011 and 2016 no longer extend to Gibraltar, because of changes in the overseas territory. We are simply realigning Gibraltar with the rest of the overseas territories at this time.
Will the Minister write and explain on what occasions it would be applied and if any number of cases have been envisaged?
I would be delighted to write to my right hon. Friend.