HL Deb 04 July 1983 vol 443 cc445-7

3.2 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone) rose to move, That in the event of the

being read a second time, the Bills be not referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills, notwithstanding Standing Order 48.

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I ought to explain to your Lordships why this is being done. The three Bills which appear on the Order Paper for Second Reading were Consolidation Bills, all of which fell by the wayside on Dissolution, and they had all been examined in the ordinary way by the Joint Committee. Indeed, the Medical Bill had passed through all its stages in your Lordships' House. The Bills have been reintroduced in this Parliament in exactly the same form in which they stood at the time of Dissolution.

My noble and learned friend, Lord Brightman, who is the chairman of the Joint Committee, has agreed that no useful purpose would be served by these Bills again being referred to the Joint Committee, and I therefore seek your Lordships' approval to the Motion which would avoid that unnecessary step. I should also like to express my personal thanks to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Elwyn-Jones, and the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, whom I consulted in this matter, and who are here to speak for themselves.

At the same time, I should take the opportunity to remind the House of the purpose of each of the Bills. The Medical Bill brings together the provisions of the Medical Acts of 1956, 1969, and 1978. It also takes into account the effects of a number of statutory instruments. Lastly, it incorporates a number of technical amendments which were recommended in a joint report of the two Law Commissions which was laid before your Lordships' House in March.

The Value Added Tax Bill is a strict consolidation. I should, however, tell your Lordships that on 31st May last the Treasury made an order entitled the Value Added Tax (Works of Art, etc.) Order 1983, which came into operation on that date and amended some of the provisions of the Acts consolidated in this Bill. The order was laid before Parliament in another place on 15th June, and the 40-day period for praying against it has not yet expired, so it would not be appropriate at this stage for the consolidation Bill to be amended. It is therefore proposed that an appropriate amendment should be made in another place after the expiry of the 40-day period, and the Bill will then be brought back to your Lordships' House for consideration of that amendment.

Lastly, the Car Tax Bill is a strict consolidation, and I am glad to say that in this case there are no complications. Therefore I beg to move the Motion standing in my name.

being read a second time, the Bills be not referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills, notwithstanding Standing Order 48.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

Lord Elwyn-Jones

My Lords, the proposal of the noble and learned Lord for the procedure to be adopted for these consolidation measures is unprece- dented, but this noble House is not unduly shackled by precedent where a change seems a sensible thing to bring about, and what is proposed here does indeed seem to be sensible. We are concerned with consolidation and the importance and the value of consolidation to Parliament, to the citizen, and generally, is considerable. Therefore steps which are proper within the limits of parliamentary supervision should be taken, and in this case there is also the advantage of supervision by a Joint Committee under the chairmanship of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brightman, which has obviously gone thoroughly into these matters.

Accordingly, we on this side of the House consider that what is proposed is wholly sensible. I am not sure that I have totally followed what was said about the impact of certain changes in the Value Added Tax Bill in regard to proceedings which are to occur in another place, but it would seem to be a sensible course of action to follow, and accordingly we have no objection to what is proposed.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble and learned Lord for what he has said.

On Question, Motion agreed to.