Clause 1 - The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

Part of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and International Committee of the Red Cross (Status) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:00 am ar 6 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Ceidwadwyr, Basingstoke 10:00, 6 Mawrth 2024

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his comments, and I recognise his support for all the work that has got us here today.

The Bill was passed unanimously on Second Reading, and I hope the clauses and amendments will continue to have the support of the Government and everybody in this room today. It provides the necessary delegated legislation-making powers for the CPA and the ICRC to be treated in a manner comparable to an international organisation of which the United Kingdom, or His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, is a member.

Before the Bill, the Government were unable to treat them in that way, because the powers in the International Organisations Act 1968—particularly the powers in section 1—and the International Development Act 2002 are not available in respect of the CPA or the ICRC. That is because neither organisation is an intergovernmental organisation, but instead each has its own unique constitutional arrangements, reflecting its specific international mandate. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a bespoke enabling power to allow the CPA and the ICRC to operate in the UK.

Turning to the provisions in clauses 1 and 3 and the schedule in more detail, clause 1 enables the conferral on the CPA of the legal capacities of a body corporate. Key capacities relevant to the operation of an international organisation in the UK include concluding contracts, acquiring and disposing of property, and instituting and being a party to legal proceedings.

The clause also enables the provision in respect of the CPA of specific privileges and immunities, which will be determined on the basis of the organisation’s functional need and will be specified through an individual arrangement to be agreed upon on completion of the Bill. The clause also enables the provision of specific privileges and immunities in respect of the secretary-general of the CPA. Those are limited to the privileges and immunities set out in part 2 of the schedule.

The second clause in this string is clause 3. This provision is equivalent to section 8 of the International Organisations Act 1968, which allows the Secretary of State to certify questions of fact relating to the status of, or the privileges and immunities conferred on, the organisations. This clause is necessary, as it is intended to assist the courts in establishing the facts relating to the status of persons who may have privileges or immunities.

The third element in this string is the schedule. It is customary practice to grant privileges and immunities to international organisations and related persons. The list of privileges and immunities that may be conferred on the CPA and the ICRC by Order in Council is set out in the schedule and has been informed by the 1968 Act. I say “may” very certainly, because these are things that have to be decided once this paving legislation is in place.

The schedule will allow the Government to agree a framework that is unique and appropriate to the organisations’ unique mandates. Conferral of the privileges and immunities may be subject to specific exceptions in accordance with clause 4(2)(b), while any exemption or relief from a tax or duty may be made subject to arrangements or conditions in accordance with clause 4(2)(c).

The actual suite of privileges and immunities to be accorded, including relevant exceptions and limitations, will be determined on the basis of the functional need of each organisation and will be specified in the Order in Council. I will discuss that further when we come to the next set of provisions, because it is important that it be clear to everybody looking at this debate, which will be a great number of people across the Commonwealth.