§ 2.54 p.m.
§ The LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone) rose to move, That Standing Order No. 48 be amended as follows:
At end insert—
("(6) Any affirmative instrument which but for the provisions of the Northern Ireland Act 1974 would have been enacted by a Consolidation Bill, whether public or private, or by a Statute Law Revision Bill.").
§ The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I rise to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I think I can do so in practically no words. First of all, what is the object of this Motion? The object is that instead of an affirmative instrument being necessary for consolidation of Northern Ireland matters, they should be referred, like British Bills, to the Consolidation Committee. I think it is obviously right. I had better explain exactly why it is being done.
§ Since the demise of the Assembly in 1974, most legislation for the Province which would have been within the powers of the Assembly, or previously within those of the Stormont Parliament, has been promulgated by Orders in Council which, of course, arc generally subject to 11 the Affirmative Resolution procedure. From time to time it is necessary, as it is in this part of the United Kingdom, to consolidate domestic legislation in Northern Ireland. This is now also effected by order so that the body of Northern Irish law, so consolidated, can be kept as one, separate and distinct from the law affecting either England, Scotland or Great Britain. However, unlike a consolidating Bill, a consolidating order is not subject to special procedure. It is laid before Parliament and requires approval in exactly the same way as any other Northern Irish order of the kind I have mentioned; that is, it is subject to the affirmative procedure.
§ In theory, of course, the affirmative procedure involves parliamentary scrutiny. In practice, however, a consolidation order is apt to go through on the nod. Some of these orders are of very considerable proportions. Your Lordships will, I hope, agree that the proper way of dealing with consolidation in this House, whether it is in Northern Ireland or elsewhere, is to refer it to the Select Committee, whatever part of the United Kingdom it comes from. I understand that the committee are willing to undertake this additional burden, but of course they do not have power to do so. The purpose of this amendment is to give them that power by changing the Standing Orders.
§ Your Lordships will wish to know what is being done in another place. If the House consents to this amendment, a similar Resolution will be moved there and thereafter a consolidation order laid before Parliament will be referred immediately to the Joint Committee for their consideration. By analogy with the procedure on Consolidation Bills, it will be the practice that no resolution for approval of any consolidation order will be moved in either House until the Joint Committee has reported on it. My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That Standing Order No. 48 be amended as follows:
At end insert—
("(6) Any affirmative instrument which but for the provisions of the Northern Ireland Act 1974 would have been enacted by a Consolidation Bill, whether public or private or by a Statute Law Revision Bill.")— (The Lord Chancellor.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.