HC Deb 09 September 2003 vol 410 cc168-9
36. Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North)

How many Bills he expects will have been subject to online pre-legislative scrutiny by the end of the Session; and if he will make a statement. [128483]

The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Phil Woolas)

None of the Committees that conducted pre-legislative scrutiny of draft Bills in this Session has undertaken online consultation; nor am I aware of any plans to do so. However, the report of the Joint Committee on the draft Communications Bill in the previous Session demonstrated that online consultation on draft Bills could be useful. Whether it is undertaken remains a matter for decision by the Committee concerned.

Mr. Allen

I took the trouble to write to all Secretaries of State asking whether they would hold any pre-legislative consultation in the next Session, and I received a standard reply from each saying that they do not pre-empt the Queen's Speech. However, as a long list of Bills is being circulated, would it not make sense for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to use that list in talking to Select Committee Chairmen to try to build into their programmes of work serious pre-legislative scrutiny of all the Bills that the House will consider?

Mr. Woolas

That is a matter for the House, but the Government recognise the benefits of pre-legislative scrutiny. There have been nine such Bills in the current Session and there were seven in the last Session. It is the Government's desire to facilitate online consultation. As I said, the matter is for the Committees, but my hon. Friend's suggestion seems to have merit within that policy.