Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

New Clause 19 — Power to remove or reduce burdens

Part of Orders of the Day – in the House of Commons at 6:45 pm on 15th May 2006.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of David Howarth David Howarth Shadow Minister (Energy), Trade & Industry 6:45 pm, 15th May 2006

Yes, I believe that to be the case. In fact, Ministers from different parties could make opposite decisions on the same matter but still be within the terms of the Bill, because all that it requires is that Ministers consider that certain things are the case.

The Minister has followed his predecessor in asserting that none of this matters because tomorrow we will pass the Committee veto and all our concerns should fall in at that point. All I say in response is that the Committee veto is not a veto, because the Government retain the right to overturn it in the House as a whole. If it were a Committee veto and there were no appeal against what the Committee decided, the situation might be more interesting, but even then there is the problem to which a number of hon. Members have referred that the Government's in-built majority on all Committees—indeed, their ability to change the membership of Committees in advance, as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster no doubt knows from her previous job—is enough at least to throw into doubt whether that aspect of the so-called Committee veto is an adequate protection.

I find another aspect of new clause 19 particularly disturbing, but I will not refer to it at great length tonight because the best time for that discussion will be tomorrow in a debate on a new clause. However, two amendments in this group deal with the point, and I should explain to the House what they are about. New clause 19, like the old clause 2, contains a provision that allows, by order, legislative power to be transferred to any person. It strikes me as an extraordinary power to grant the Government, and the extent to which the person to whom that power is transferred will be subject to the restrictions in the Bill is not clear. It is that matter to which we will return tomorrow, but it is a major weakness of the Bill that the purpose for which that provision was proposed—it has been proposed again tonight—has never been made properly clear. New clause 19 is an advance on the old clause 1, but it is still deeply defective in many ways. Unless further amendments and further concessions are made, I fear that the Bill is still unacceptable.