HC Deb 01 April 1968 vol 762 cc137-8

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Dean

I beg to move Amendment No. 16. in page 30, line 31, leave out from 'shall' to end of line 32 and insert: 'not take effect unless approved by resolutions of both Houses of Parliament'. The Amendment seeks to make subject to affirmative Resolution of both Houses of Parliament the various powers which Part I gives to the Minister to make orders. The intention is to ensure that the House has an opportunity to debate what may well be exceedingly important regulations under Part I, which is the main part of the Bill. Part I gives the Minister very wide regulating power. I calculate that rather more than a quarter of the 40 Clauses in it give him power to legislate by regulation. They deal with some wide-ranging matters, such as university hospitals under Clause 5; care and after-care under Clause 12; various matters concerning health centres under Clause 22; the power of executive councils to supply goods and materials to doctors. dentists, opticians and pharmacists under Clause 24; the power, under Clause 30, which we have just been discussing, for the Minister to produce and manufacture in excess of his own requirements in the National Health Service; and, under Clause 31, the power to make regulations with regard to invalid vehicles. Those are just some of the Clauses in which the Minister has power to regulate, t present subject only to the negative procedure. They are matters of considerable substance, and because of their importance they should be subject to the affirmative and not the negative Resolution procedure.

Mr. K. Robinson

The hon. Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean) and other hon. Members who were present during the Committee stage will understand what I mean when I say that we have been here before. We had a number of discussions in Committee about the use of the affirmative or negative procedure. Of course, Oppositions traditionally press for the affirmative procedure, and when they become the Government they wish that they had never done so on the rare occasions when they succeeded. I can only assume that the hon. Gentleman does not expect his party to form the Government for a very long time to come.

As I have said at previous stages of the Bill, the use of the negative procedure is in line with the National Health Service Act, 1946, the main Act, in which the powers to make regulations dealing with superannuation and the transfer and compensation of officers are the only ones made subject to the affirmative procedure. It would be quite inconsistent with the main Act and earlier National Health Service legislation to make all the Regulations and Orders under Part I of the Bill subject to the affirmative Resolution procedure.

I do not have to tell the hon. Member for Somerset, North or the House that there need be no less Parliamentary control over delegated legislation through the negative Resolution procedure than through the affirmative Resolution procedure. Full Parliamentary debate must take place when a Prayer is laid against a regulation. The experience of the hon. Gentleman and his vigilance concerning National Health delegated legislation does not suggest to me that he is likely to miss an appropriate opportunity to table a Prayer. It is important that there should be a degree of flexibility so that the many minor Amendments to existing regulations which must be made from time to time can pass without debate. It is desirable to have extra flexibility if no hon. Members wish to debate the Amendments.

For these reasons, I hope that the Committee will not accept the Amendment.

Amendment negatived.

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