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Constitutional Reform (Prerogative Powers and Civil Service etc.) Bill [HL]

Volume 684: debated on Monday 17 July 2006

Report received.

Clause 18 [Power to impose new nationality requirements]:

Page 9, line 1, leave out “other officer of the Crown” and insert “person or body”

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall also speak briefly to Amendments Nos. 2 to 4, as they all run together. These are technical and tidying-up amendments following criticisms made in Committee, especially by the Minister, of the Bill as it then stood.

Briefly, the amendments do three things. First, they replace the phrase “officer of the Crown” with “person or body”. That reflects the range of officials responsible for the day-to-day running of their organisations to whom Ministers may delegate power. Secondly, the amendments include a reference to the Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997, which corresponds to Section 75(5)(b) of the Race Relations Act 1976. This omission was kindly pointed out in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Bassam of Brighton. Thirdly, they leave the power to create new rules imposing nationality requirements with the Minister or any other person or body to whom that power has been delegated—again, to meet the criticisms made on behalf of the Government by the Minister.

We acknowledge the request of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee for an explanation of why the Bill does not provide for new rules to be in the form of a statutory instrument. We are satisfied that the Government provided an explanation in Committee—namely, that that would not allow sufficient flexibility to impose or relax the reservation of posts in order to meet emergency situations. That approach is consistent with the Public Administration Select Committee’s draft Civil Service Bill in the other place in its first report of Session 2003-04. In short, we hope that these amendments meet the criticisms of a technical nature that have been made. I beg to move.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Lester, knows well our approach and attitude to the Bill. I am most grateful to him for having listened to what we said at an earlier stage of the Bill’s passage. We are more than content to accept these four amendments because they tidy up provisions in Clause 18. The noble Lord has gone over each of the amendments carefully and I disagree with nothing that he has said. I am most grateful to him for bringing these amendments forward in the courteous and precise manner in which he always addresses your Lordships' House.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Page 9, line 7, leave out “officer of the Crown” and insert “person or body”

Page 9, leave out line 8.

Page 9, line 9, leave out subsection (5) and insert-

“(5) The references in-

(a) section 75(5)(b) of the Race Relations Act 1976 (c. 74) (rules relating to nationality etc. of persons employed in service of Crown), and (b) Article 71(5)(b) of the Race Relations (Northern Ireland) Order 1997 (S.I. 1997/869 (N.I. 6)) (corresponding provision for Northern Ireland), to the implementation of rules include the grant of (or refusal to grant) exemptions under subsection (4)(b).”

On Question, amendments agreed to.