HC Deb 29 April 1998 vol 311 c343

(Clauses 1, 7, 10, II, 25, 27, 30, 75, 119 and 147)

Considered in Committee [Progress, 28 April].

[MR. MICHAEL J. MARTIN in the Chair]

4.10 pm
Mr. Nick Gibb (Bognor Regis and Littlehampton)

On a point of order, Mr. Martin. I refer to the point of order that I raised yesterday regarding the draft regulations in connection with clause 30, which were not available to hon. Members until yesterday afternoon, 24 hours after our debate on that clause. I asked the Deputy Librarian why the draft regulations were not there when the Government said that they had been placed in the Library. She sent me a note saying that the copies that were purported to have been sent to the Library had not yet been found and that they may have gone missing because the Treasury did not follow the relevant guidelines for submitting documents.

No Opposition Member is claiming that there was a deliberate move by Treasury Ministers to keep the documents away from us, but there is an element of neglect and carelessness, and I regard that as contempt of the Committee. Given that the Bill is packed with other clauses that will give rise to many other regulations, may I ask Ministers, through you, Mr. Martin, to confirm that, when draft or other regulations in connection with the Bill are published, they will send copies to each member of the Committee before they are placed in the Library?

The First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael J. Martin)

The hon. Gentleman's latter point is not a matter for the Chair. I can only repeat what I said yesterday. We have moved on from the clause that he mentioned, but the Minister will have heard his comments.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Dawn Primarolo)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Martin. The hon. Gentleman raised with me yesterday the point about whether correct procedures were followed. I have investigated the matter, and found that we followed the normal procedures. I have also asked him to send me the letter from the Library, and I will absolutely ensure that procedures are followed and that whatever happened to lead to the regulations being in the Library without Library staff being aware of the fact will not happen again.

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