HL Deb 21 December 1983 vol 446 cc784-5

3.2 p.m.

Lord Lyell rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 9th November be approved.

The noble Lord said: Those of your Lordships who have had the opportunity of studying this draft order will see that it gives effect in United Kingdom law to the requirements of a Protocol which amends the 1960 convention that created the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, more normally known as Eurocontrol. The protocol was signed on 12th February 1981, and laid before the House in October 1982.

The purpose of this draft order is to implement Articles 22 (7), 23 and 24 of the amended convention by providing for immunity from suit and legal process for the director general of the organisation, inviolability for the official papers and documents of representatives of the contracting parties, and by exempting from our social security scheme those members of Eurocontrol's staff who are neither British citizens nor permanent residents of this country. Currently Eurocontrol has no premises or property here; the director general and all of his staff work outside the United Kingdom, and we have no reason to believe that this situation will change in the near future. The grant of these privileges and immunities is not, therefore, expected to have any significant effect here. However, all contracting parties are obliged to provide for them under the terms of the amended convention, and they may be required should Eurocontrol hold a meeting here.

As the changes to the operation of Eurocontrol were debated in your Lordships' House earlier this year when your Lordships were considering what is now the Civil Aviation (Eurocontrol) Act 1983, and as the draft order does not affect the operational working of the organisation, I will confine myself to reminding your Lordships that the main effect of the protocol was to transfer back to the contracting parties the responsibility for providing air navigation services above 25,000 feet. It will also enable Eurocontrol to expand and reinforce its role as the centre for collaboration between the contracting parties in the future development of air navigation services. The organisation will of course continue with its other welt established tasks which range from basic research to the training of engineers and controllers. The other contracting parties besides the United Kingdom are France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland. It is expected that the changes which will follow from the protocol will provide the framework for a much more positive co-operation venture in the future. I hope your Lordships will approve the draft order, thereby demonstrating our continued interest in the important work which Eurocontrol carries out. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 9th November be approved.—(Lord Lyell.)

3.6 p.m.

Lord Oram

My Lords, we have had a clear explanation of this order from the Minister and I thank him for that. We have also had clearance from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments and they find nothing in the order requiring our special attention. Following what we have heard from the Minister. I have no questions that I wish to put to him. Therefore it remains for me simply to indicate that we support this Motion. We understand the necessity for the order, even though, as the Minister has explained, it will have little significant effect in the United Kingdom, since the director and his staff are resident outside the United Kingdom. Without further ado, I would commend this order to the House.

Lord Kilmarnock

My Lords, from these Benches we should also like to thank the noble Lord for repeating and explaining the main provisions of the order. In common with the noble Lord, Lord Oram, we feel able to support the order in its entirety and have no questions to bowl at him.

Lord Lyell

I wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Oram, for his study and the care with which he has looked at this order. He asked me one or two questions before we came into the Chamber about Eurocontrol. I hope I was able to assure him that the order we have before us has simple objectives. I was grateful to the noble Lord and to the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, for not asking me to get further into the soup and inviolability; otherwise we should have had to call upon higher authority and lengthy explanations. I hope your Lordships will feel that I have done my best to explain the order with clarity. It is a fairly simple order but it has ramifications. I am grateful for the welcome accorded by your Lordships this afternoon.

On Question, Motion agreed to.