Regulatory Reform Bill [H.L.]
Lord Falconer of Thoroton (Minister of State, Cabinet Office; Labour)
My Lords, I understand the motives for the amendment. It is based upon what was said during Committee but I do not believe that it would be appropriate to put the words on the face of the Bill.
As has been repeatedly stated by everyone involved, the power in the Bill is not suited to large and controversial measures. The entire procedure contained in the Bill would weed out such proposals. A highly contentious issue would come up against serious problems during the consultation period and the Minister, obliged to set all this out in the document he placed before Parliament, would have to reflect that explicitly. The scrutiny procedures in Parliament, involving careful examination by committees and the co-equal status of the two Houses, are such that any Minister would obviously be ill-advised to choose this route.
Of course, that does not mean that no proposal could contain any controversial provision, but the consultation and scrutiny process would allow opposing views to be tested. There will always be disagreements about the best way to achieve a particular goal, however desirable that goal might be, and this Bill provides an excellent method of achieving a consensus as to what that best method might be. However, that is quite different from highly political and highly controversial legislation which would not be suitable for treatment under the Bill. It would be simpler to get such legislation through via primary legislation.
The phrase adopted--namely, "not politically controversial"--also has a degree of imprecision which would not be appropriate for insertion in a Bill. Therefore, for two reasons--first, that the processes envisaged in the Bill would ensure that such a measure never got through and, secondly, that the phrase is imprecise--we respectfully submit that the wording is not appropriate to incorporate in the Bill. We invite the noble Baroness to withdraw her amendment.