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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 7:30 pm on 15th May 2006.

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Photo of Rob Marris Rob Marris Labour, Wolverhampton South West 7:30 pm, 15th May 2006

The Government have listened to the arguments. They might not have accepted them all, but they have listened—hence the fairly fundamental amendments before us. If amendments that we shall consider today and tomorrow are accepted—it is up to the House whether they are—fairly fundamental safeguards will be in the Bill. There are the five locks of constitutional safeguards. As I said in my intervention on my hon. Friend the Minister, my parliamentary neighbour, I have concerns that we will end up with the same kind of Bill this year that we did five years ago—completely unworkable in the way that most Members would wish because of those safeguards. He referred to the Game Act 1831, which is why the wonderful Bridgewater's butcher that is about 100 m from where I live has a sign outside it. I am sure that Bob will be happy to dispense with that sign.

I suspect that most hon. Members would be happy if such regulation were got rid of. On the other hand, dealing with major tax increases—or tax cuts, which might still be allowed under clause 5—would not be appropriate under the Bill. There are five locks and among other things they involve two Select Committees—one in this House and one in the other place. Select Committees, certainly in this House, have traditionally had a majority who are members of the Government party. That is the way in which this House has operated since Select Committees were formed—in 1971 or whenever. Anyone who thinks that a Select Committee Chairman or his or her members are patsies have not served on one as I have. I refer not just to my hon. Friend Andrew Miller or whoever his successor might be. I have never come across a Select Committee member who is a patsy. Select Committees will put a block and a lock on a proposal if it is controversial, as I think amendment No. 56 says.