Clause 4 - Orders in Council

Part of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and International Committee of the Red Cross (Status) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:15 am on 6 March 2024.

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Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Conservative, Basingstoke 10:15, 6 March 2024

I stress that amendments 3 and 4 are probing amendments to allow the Minister to provide some assurances, not only to the people in this room, including myself, but to other members of the organisations we are talking about today. It is a long-standing practice that privileges and immunities are conferred by Order in Council, and that is not included in the Bill; this is merely paving legislation to allow that to happen.

The clause provides that any Order in Council made under clauses 1 or 2 is subject to the draft affirmative parliamentary procedure. Statutory instruments that are subject to the draft affirmative procedure require the approval of both Houses of Parliament before they come into effect, in the usual way. The clause also provides further detail on the scope and extent of the delegated legislation-making powers under clauses 1 and 2.

In addition, the clauses provide the enabling power, first, for the Order in Council to specify circumstances where privileges or immunities do not apply, whether because of an exception to those privileges or immunities or because they have been waived by the organisation; and secondly, for the Order in Council to specify that fiscal reliefs and exemptions are subject to arrangements or conditions imposed by the Secretary of State or the Commissioners of His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, as the case may be.

I felt it was very important that we had a clear, on the record affirmation from the Government, when they are drawing up these very important subsequent documents for approval by the House, that the appropriate people are involved in those discussions. That is why I have tabled probing amendments 3 and 4.

The effect of amendment 3 is to lay down a formal requirement on the Secretary of State to consult the chair of the UK branch and the secretary-general of the CPA, and the president and the director-general of the ICRC respectively, before finalising the draft Order in Council and laying it before Parliament.

Amendment 4 would require the Secretary of State to lay the draft Order in Council within 14 days of the Act’s coming into force. Perhaps when the Minister responds, he could give some assurances regarding the Government’s intent to involve the individuals named in amendment 3 in the decisions about what is to be laid before Parliament, to ensure that the Bill works exactly in the way the relevant organisations need it to. I am sure that would always be his intention, but it would be helpful if he could put that intention on the record before we finalise proceedings today.

Clause 5 explains that the term “ICRC” means the International Committee of the Red Cross, for the avoidance of any doubt. It also ensures that the definition of “statutory provision” allows for the treatment of the CPA and ICRC as international organisations to be applied in regard to all relevant legislation, primary and secondary, including devolved legislation. That is important because the Bill gives both the CPA and the ICRC treatment comparable to that of an international organisation, so the organisations need to be recognised in the same way across all relevant legislation.

Last, but by no means least, the provisions in clause 6 extend and apply the Bill to the whole of the UK, as a reserved or excepted matter relating to the conduct of international relations. The Bill will come into force on the day on which it receives Royal Assent.

I hope the Minister will respond on those final clauses and leave me in a position where I can withdraw my two probing amendments.