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European Legislation

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 Mark Lazarowicz Mark Lazarowicz Labour, Edinburgh North and Leith 2:30 pm, 28th February 2006

What plans he has to bring forward proposals to reform the way in which EU business is scrutinised.

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths Parliamentary Secretary

We intend to introduce proposals in response to the detailed report from the Modernisation Committee shortly.

Photo of Mark Lazarowicz Mark Lazarowicz Labour, Edinburgh North and Leith

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that commitment, but he will know that it has been some years since the proposal for a major change in the scrutiny of EU legislation was first discussed by the House. It is accepted across the House and beyond that scrutinising EU legislation is not something that we do well, so can he give us a more specific indication of when the proposals will be made?

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths Parliamentary Secretary

There have been ongoing discussions and changes in the way we scrutinise legislation in response to the sort of valid point that my hon. Friend makes, and we want to continue such improvements as quickly as is practical.

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

The Leader of the House has been intending to introduce such changes for rather a long time now, and those ongoing discussions are apparently happening in the Cabinet, rather than with colleagues across the House, which is a misfortune. Can the hon. Gentleman tell me whether direct discussions were held with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—when we had such a creature—about part 3 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill? Quite obviously, there is no point in improving the legislative background to introducing EU legislation if we cannot improve the scrutiny by the House.

Photo of Nigel Griffiths Nigel Griffiths Parliamentary Secretary

We have every intention of improving the scrutiny by the House. Indeed, the House has been divided on the issue. The European Scrutiny Committee, by the narrowest of margins, made a recommendation on which it changed its mind. That gave problems to the members of other Committees who were considering the issue. So it is not quite as simple as perhaps some hon. Members would make out, but there is the desire to ensure proper scrutiny. Many hon. Members are critical of the amount of legislation that must be passed, some of which is consequential on European legislation, and therefore there is good will on all sides to tackle the issue, but there is not yet an agreed solution. I hope that we will reach that shortly.