HC Deb 28 January 1985 vol 72 cc14-5
32. Mr. Beith

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he is satisfied with the present arrangements for parliamentary scrutiny of statutory instruments.

Mr. Biffen

I believe the present arrangements to be generally acceptable to hon. Members.

Mr. Beith

Does the Leader of the House recognise that in the time that he has been a Member of the House the amount of law made by statutory instruments has been increased dramatically and that the right of the House to debate and vote upon those statutory instruments has been reduced dramatically? Would not the right hon. Gentleman like to be the Leader of the House who went down in history as the one who reversed both those trends by ensuring that the House took control of the making of law by statute?

Mr. Biffen

That is an interesting proposition, but, for example, as long as we have our present arrangements with the EC a growing body of our law will be made that way. Of course, I shall always look sympathetically at any suggestions that are made to improve upon present conditions.

Mr. Madden

Will the Leader of the House give an assurance that the Government will not in future adopt the procedure that was adopted when they introduced a charge for entry clearance certificates, which denied the House any opportunity to debate the matter? Indeed, the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments was also denied an opportunity to consider the introduction of that charge.

Mr. Biffen

In view of the parent legislation under which action was taken, what proceeded was entirely defensible, but I take at once the hon. Gentleman's point.