HC Deb 20 April 1998 vol 310 cc525-6

Lords amendment: No. 8, in page 16, line 12, at end insert


paragraph 3(2) of Schedule 7,")

Mrs. Liddell

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

With this, it will be convenient to discuss also Lords amendment No. 9.

Mrs. Liddell

The House will be aware that the House of Lords Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation considered the order-making powers contained in the Bill. Its report of 4 February recommended that the parliamentary procedure to implement the power under paragraph 3(2) of schedule 7 should be the affirmative rather than the negative. The Government accepted the Committee's recommendation, and I accordingly commend the amendments to the House.

Mr. Gibb

I am a relatively new Member of the House, and I wish to raise a concern that I and other new Members have—one that is shared increasingly by people outside, especially those who need access to legislation. It relates to the growing amount of delegated legislation. It has been a feature of all Governments in recent years, but it appears to be a particular penchant of the new Labour Government. For example, it now appears that major tax changes, such as reforms to the capital gains legislation, are to be introduced by statutory instrument rather than through the Finance Bill.

The 11th report of the House of Lords Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation says of paragraph 3(2) of schedule 7:

The power to amend the Table is potentially wide, and the appropriate degree of parliamentary control depends on the uses to which it will be put. The House may wish to consider whether it is not of such significance as to justify amending the Bill to provide for the affirmative resolution procedure, rather than the negative procedure currently proposed in the Bill. Indeed, the memorandum to the Select Committee prepared by the Treasury lists in an annex all the new delegated powers created by the Bill—there are some 15 new delegated powers from one single Bill.

I raise this matter now as a concerned Back Bencher, but it was already of general concern when I was in practice before entering the House. Will the Minister confirm that she is aware of this widespread concern, and give an assurance that the Government will seek to redress the huge increase in secondary legislation which has been their hallmark since it came to power a year ago?

Mrs. Liddell

The Government believe—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Lady must ask the leave of the House.

Mrs. Liddell

With the leave of the House. As a relatively new Member, I also make mistakes.

The Government have made it clear that we believe in consultation, and in listening to people's views. Although I am a comparatively new Member, I was in the House during the last Parliament when the previous Government used the deregulation orders many times and in relation to secondary legislation. Therefore, I believe that this amendment is a useful addition to the Bill, and I reiterate my commendation of it to the House.

Lords amendment agreed to.

Lords amendment No. 9 agreed to.

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