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We fully endorse the value of pre-legislative scrutiny. Since 1997, more than 50 Bills have been published in draft and 39 have been the subject of pre-legislative scrutiny. I am keen to ensure that as many Bills as possible benefit from that procedure where appropriate.
We were all taken aback by that brief and succinct, but positive, reply. I support Mr. Allen. If we had more pre-legislative scrutiny, the nonsense of programming nowadays, whereby much legislation goes through without important parts being adequately debated either in Standing Committee or at remaining stages, would be removed, and the House would be a better place and legislation would be better for the people of this country.
Would that all right hon. and hon. Members shared the optimistic and progressive view of the hon. Gentleman, but the sad fact is that from looking at programme motions of one kind or another over a couple decades I do not consider that pre-legislative scrutiny or any other parliamentary mechanism for scrutiny would stop the inexorable trend for Oppositions to maximise the time for programme motions to complain that there is not enough time. However, I do not want to depart from the present all-party consensus; we support pre-legislative scrutiny and think it should be extended as far as is practical, but there are cases where it is not appropriate or practical.