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New Clause 19 — Power to remove or reduce burdens

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 15th May 2006.

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Photo of Mark Fisher Mark Fisher Labour, Stoke-on-Trent Central 5:15 pm, 15th May 2006

Absolutely. I am ashamed of myself. As someone who believes in, and who has based most of my career in the House on, the principle of defending Parliament against the Executive and defending the scrutiny of Parliament, I am thoroughly ashamed that I did not spot the dangers. Other hon. Members seem less keen to admit that they slipped up too. One of the few people who comes out of this at all well is the hon. Member for Cambridge, but others may wish to protect their reputations.

That is not the burden of my speech. Instead, it is the extent to which the Government are rowing back from that disastrous position with new clause 19. It is a good and serious attempt, but it is not quite right. It needs to be buttoned down in a solid way. The dangers inherent in the original Bill were enormous and complacency still exists, with hon. Members in some interventions saying, "I spotted it all." The original Bill gave powers to Ministers to subvert the process and bypass the whole of Parliament. The "abolition of Parliament" was not a loose phrase. We could have packed up and gone home with the removal of almost all our functions, yet neither the press nor the House was up in arms in the way that they should have been. I am delighted that the Government are rowing back with new clause 19, but it is not quite enough.