Report (1st Day)
Baroness Noakes (Shadow Minister, Treasury; Conservative)
My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Eccles for his contribution and I am grateful for the support from the noble Lord, Lord Newby, who I thought gave some good examples of the importance of this code. That point gives the lie to the Minister's calling the code a technical guidance document. It is not a technical guidance document. It goes to the heart of how the extensive powers in the Bill will be used. You cannot use this Bill without the guidance document because, deliberately, a large amount of the substance has been left over for the code. We do not object to that as a matter of principle, because we recognise that that detail may need to change over time. It is that issue of changing over time that it is probably more important.
The Government keep wanting congratulations on the open process of this first code, but the fact is that a lot needs to change in that first draft before it is finalised and there is no way that Parliament is going to have another sight of the document, certainly not before this Bill has completed its stages. The Minister said that the Memorandum of Understanding is not required to be done by Parliament. No, it is not, because it exists only extra-statutorily. If it were set up as part of a statutory framework, there is no doubt in my mind that Parliament would want to have a say on it. The Minister said that lots of codes of conduct are not subject to parliamentary approval. However, lots are; it is not an unusual or unprecedented procedure. Let us make this code one more such. I beg to test the opinion of the House.