All 2 Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale contributions to the Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Act 2020

Read Bill Ministerial Extracts

Wed 17th Jun 2020
Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

Report stage (Hansard) & Report stage (Hansard) & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report stage
Mon 29th Jun 2020
Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill [HL]
Lords Chamber

3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords & 3rd reading

Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill [HL] Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Scotland Office

Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill [HL]

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Report stage & Report stage (Hansard) & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 17th June 2020

(4 years ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 101-R-I Marshalled list for Report - (12 Jun 2020)
Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, I too am grateful to my noble friend Lord Hain for the opportunity to raise some issues on Report, not least because it gives an opportunity to emphasise the different situations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales and, very specifically, the different situation between Scotland and Northern Ireland and Wales, given the legislative competencies that exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland. That was perhaps highlighted earlier today in the amendment tabled by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, on the Hague convention. He reminded us that the Hague convention was carried into Scots law in 2003, when he was Deputy First Minister and I was First Minister, and it is still outstanding in UK law for England and the rest of the country.

I want to ask where we have reached with the legislative consent Motion for the Bill in the Scottish Parliament. I would be grateful if the Advocate-General would update us on that. I would also be grateful for his consideration of this issue of consultation and engagement with the devolved Governments and Parliaments on international treaties. It is accepted in the Scotland Act and the other Acts of 1998 that there is a reserved responsibility on international treaties, but it has been accepted ever since, most recently perhaps in the concordat on international relations between the UK Government and the devolved Governments, that there are joint interests here in relation to devolved legislative competencies and reserved legislative competencies. We can surely do better, as the Law Society of Scotland and others have argued now for many years, in finding systems for the engagement of devolved Governments and Parliaments in advance of treaties being negotiated and signed, rather than afterwards. It seems to me that we are long overdue a formal structure for the engagement of devolved Ministers and Governments in the agreement of negotiating mandates for treaties, rather than simply information, consultation and then approval afterwards. I would be interested to hear the views of the Advocate-General on that as a way forward.

Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I support this amendment and I, too, was shocked by the lack of response to the very detailed speech by the noble Lord, Lord Hain, in Committee. It seemed to me that the Minister did not give a proper response to what had been said. I think it underlines the Conservative Party’s problem with devolution: either it does not understand it or, if it does, it does not accept it. To give one example, a Conservative Member of Parliament called for the end of devolution to Wales altogether and the scrapping of the Senedd, because his constituents could not, as they normally do at this time of year, go to the Welsh beaches to swim in the sea. That was sufficient to call for the end of devolution in Wales. With that sort of attitude, and with the noble and learned Lord’s attitude to the speech by the noble Lord, Lord Hain, it really makes the case that the Conservative Party is at odds with devolution and what it means.

Throughout the legislation going through Parliament at the moment, there is a gap in recognising the need for consultation and if possible agreement with the devolved Administrations. This is so on the Agriculture Bill, as I pointed out last week. The Joint Ministerial Committee is a joke; it has never worked properly and is ignored by English Ministers. These are great gaps that have to be filled if the devolution settlements are to be properly appreciated.

Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill [HL] Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Scotland Office

Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill [HL]

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
3rd reading & 3rd reading (Hansard) & 3rd reading (Hansard): House of Lords
Monday 29th June 2020

(3 years, 12 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Act 2020 Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 115-I Marshalled list for Third Reading - (24 Jun 2020)
Lord Thomas of Gresford Portrait Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I too am glad to see that Clause 2 and the schedule will go and I fully support the amendments brought forward by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer. Is it the Government’s intention to replace Clause 2 and in particular Schedule 6 when the matter goes to the other place? If so, is it their intention to have criminal offences, which are punishable by imprisonment, by secondary legislation? I made that point at an earlier stage of the Bill. In principle, it is quite wrong for imprisonment to be imposed as a result of secondary legislation. In this particular instance it is even worse, because the scope of private international law is so wide that anything could be the subject of it within the principles of private international law. There is no clarity at all about where a criminal sanction involving imprisonment would be imposed. I would be grateful if the Minister could deal with that point.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
- Hansard - -

My Lords, these are sensible amendments and I support the Bill as it now stands. There was an interesting exchange on Report in relation to devolution issues, particularly in relation to Wales following the amendment moved by my noble friend Lord Hain. It was an informative debate. During that discussion, I raised the issue of the arrangements in place to involve the devolved Governments in the discussion of international treaties. There is a commitment in the concordat between the UK Government and the devolved Governments to ensure that there is prior consultation in relation to appropriate international treaties.

In that debate on my noble friend’s amendment, I asked specifically if it might be appropriate at some stage for us to move towards an institutional framework for the involvement of the devolved Governments in the agreement of negotiating mandates for international treaties, rather than simply a preference from Government to Government on consultation. I heard the response of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Keen, on that day and I read it again afterwards. The Government’s wording is carefully chosen. He said:

“We are very conscious of our responsibilities under the devolution settlements, and our approach in this area is always to seek to engage early and often when any questions arise. It is my view that such an approach of early engagement is the best way to make consultation genuinely meaningful.”—[Official Report, 17/6/20; col. 2251.]


That is of course very sensible. But will the Minister reflect on the opportunity for this and other Bills that will come before us as a result of our departure from the European Union and other factors to prompt us along the road of a better institutional framework for the engagement of the devolved Governments in negotiating mandates for international treaties? Perhaps, outwith a piece of legislation that might just polarise us in debate, there might be scope for a debate on this in your Lordships’ House in the future.

Lord Holmes of Richmond Portrait Lord Holmes of Richmond (Non-Afl) [V]
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

My Lords, I support the three amendments, largely for the reasons already eloquently elucidated by other noble Lords. I spare a word for my noble and learned friend the Minister in his dogged determination in the way that he has taken this Bill through. Perhaps he, like others, will agree that the Bill will now leave this place in a better state than when it arrived. We all hope that we are bidding au revoir to Clause 2 and hope that when the Bill appears in the other place it will in no sense be à bientôt.

In making those points, I underscore the important place of London as a centre for international dispute resolution. I ask my noble and learned friend, as I have on each occasion, to underline our gift—a gleaming jewel—in having English law and the jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.