HC Deb 03 November 1954 vol 532 cc447-9
Mr. Mitchison

I beg to move, in page 23, line 16, at the end, to insert: and no such statutory instrument shall be made unless a draft thereof has been laid before Parliament and has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.

The Chairman

I think it might be to the convenience of the Committee if the hon. and learned Member were to discuss this Amendment together with the next one in page 23, line 17, to leave out subsection (2).

Mr. Mitchison

Yes, Sir Charles. Time presses and though this is an important matter, I will be as brief as I possibly can. The point here is that regulations, for instance, the regulations which we have been discussing at some length, do not at present require an affirmative Resolution, but would be subject to annulment in the usual way. Though the regulations under this Bill may differ very widely, they are not narrow powers, but exceedingly wide powers, and I suggest that there is a proper case for making the regulations and the orders made under the Bill subject to affirmative Resolution.

I believe that if my right hon. and hon. Friends were given an assurance that the Government would look at the matter again with a view to seeing that the negative Resolution procedure should only apply to some parts of the Bill, they would probably be content with that, but, in the particular case which I have mentioned, it is obviously right, I suggest, that there should be an affirmative Resolution. I believe that we are always in danger of going too far in regulation-making, and that we tend to leave rather too much subject to no check at all, or subject only to the restricted check of the negative procedure.

Mr. Amory

I can assure the hon. and learned Gentleman that we have thought about this a good deal and have considered the matter very carefully. As he knows, we have felt that the annulment procedure was the right one for most of the regulations, but we have, in certain exceptional cases, provided for the affirmative Resolution procedure to be adopted, in particular in respect of orders to extend the scope of registration.

Looking ahead, it is extremely difficult to say, but I should have thought that there will, from time to time, be need to introduce new regulations on quite trifling matters, and also, occasionally, to introduce a regulation when time is the essence of the matter. As the hon. and learned Gentleman knows, in the main, the affirmative Resolution procedure takes longer. I can assure him that we have looked at this point very carefully, and that, in this case, we think it would be rather cumbersome to make all these regulations subject to the affirmative Resolution procedure.

Mr. Willey

I appreciate all that the right hon. Gentleman has said, but I would like him to look at the matter again, because we now have the new procedure, the half-past eleven rule, in regard to Prayers. It may be that the provision could be made slightly wider than it is at present in the Bill. I am sure that some important regulations will be made under the Bill, and that some of them ought to be subject to the affirmative Resolution procedure despite the criticism made by the right hon. Gentleman and our blanket attempt to bring them all under the affirmative Resolution procedure.

Mr. Amory

I will go through the Bill with a fine comb once again to see whether there are any other regulations which we think ought to be applied in that way, but my feeling at the moment is that we ought to go very slowly in the matter of the affirmative Resolution procedure.

Mr. Mitchison

I hope that in so doing the right hon. Gentleman will pay particular attention to Clause 6. I am sure he will agree that these regulations will be of the highest importance, and perhaps a form of words might be found with which to draw a distinction between general regulations and the type of emergency regulations which he has in mind. In view of what has been said, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 28 ordered to stand part of the Bill.