I move amendment No. 8:
In page 12, subsection (1), line 26, after "duties" to insert the following:
"or for related or other purposes in accordance with generally accepted international practice".
Some of the provisions in section 16 are intriguing and worthy of further scrutiny. Section 16(1), which concerns diplomatic and official passports, states:
The Minister may, on application in that behalf to him or her in accordance withsection 6 by a person who is entitled in accordance with this Act to be issued with a passport, issue a diplomatic passport to the person if he or she is—
(a) an officer of the Minister of diplomatic rank, or
(b) a person, or one of a class of persons, to whom the Minister considers it appropriate to issue such a passport,
for the purpose of facilitating him or her to travel abroad in connection with the performance of official duties.
The provision at the end of subsection, "for the purpose of him or her to travel abroad in connection with the performance of official duties.", clearly comprehends both subparagraphs (a) and (b). In other words, any such person, whether he or she is covered by subparagraphs (a) or (b), can only have a diplomatic passport issued to him or her for the purpose of facilitating “him or her to travel abroad in connection with the performance of official duties”, to quote the Bill. That seems clear according to the Bill.
The following is the reason for my party's amendment. If the Minister is issuing a passport for a person who qualifies under subparagraph (b) but who does not have any official duties or is not a person who would ever be required in the normal run of events to carry out official duties, then as the Bill is currently constructed that person would not be entitled to use a diplomatic passport.
I understand all former Ministers as a matter of course are issued with diplomatic passports. I do not criticise that. That is not my reason for raising this issue. It may be open to debate but that is not my purpose. If a former Minister is issued with a diplomatic passport, however, he or she can only use that passport in circumstances where he or she performs official duties. That is clear from the way the Bill is set out. Is that the intention of the Minister of State? Any reasonable reading of the section suggests that such is the only conclusion to which one could come.
Take, for example, the case of a retired Minister, a judge or a retired judge. I am not sure whether retired judges belong to this class of person. I am almost certain that members of the Judiciary are issued with diplomatic passports under subparagraph (b). If a judge of the High Court travelling abroad on a diplomatic passport is attending a legal conference or an event associated with his or her duties as a member of the Judiciary, clearly he or she is performing official duties.
Has the Minister of State contemplated how persons using a diplomatic passport could perform official duties if they are retired? It would not seem to follow from the way matters would pan out. Is it his intention to require that they should be? Confusion seems to exist in this regard. Perhaps the Minister of State will tell me that the intention is exactly as set out in the Bill and that anyone who uses a diplomatic passport can only do so in the context of performing official duties in the way that Senators, Deputies or serving Ministers are supposed only to travel on a diplomatic passport in circumstances where they are on official duties. Is the Minister of State clear that such requirement applies in equal measure to all persons to whom he might issue a passport under subparagraph (b)?
It seems this is worth addressing and it can be done by our amendment. It provides that it must be for the purpose of facilitating him or her to travel abroad in connection with the performance of official duties or for related or other purposes in accordance with generally accepted international practice. It provides that having regard to international practice, the Minister can feel safe in issuing a diplomatic passport to someone who, although he or she may be a retired or former Minister, strictly speaking is not carrying out official duties. Clearly, such persons are not carrying out ministerial duties. However, it still may be appropriate for them to have and travel on diplomatic passports, as long as the purpose for which they using them is in accordance with generally accepted international practice. This would seem to facilitate the Minister and the Government in issuing a diplomatic passport to someone in those circumstances. This is the rationale for our amendment. We respectfully suggest that if the provision was to be changed in this regard, it would assist the Minister's purpose.