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Pre-legislative Scrutiny

Oral Answers to Questions — Leader of the House – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 28th February 2006.

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Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Labour, Nottingham North 2:30 pm, 28th February 2006

If he will make it his policy to enable all Bills to undergo pre-legislative scrutiny.

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths Parliamentary Secretary

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.

Photo of Graham Allen Graham Allen Labour, Nottingham North

Does the Minister agree that we make better law when Government and Parliament work together?

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

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.

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths Parliamentary Secretary

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.