Public Bodies Bill [HL] — Committee (7th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 28th February 2011.

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Photo of Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Baroness Royall of Blaisdon Shadow Leader of the House of Lords, Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow Spokesperson (Northern Ireland) 3:15 pm, 28th February 2011

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for the statement that he made. Naturally, I warmly welcome the radical changes that he proposes, especially in relation to Clause 11, Schedule 7 and Clauses 17 and 18. I am also grateful for his willingness to engage in open dialogue and to make changes. That is this House working at its best and I am pleased that it is working in this way.

I also recognise that with a new Government, especially a coalition Government, who came to power having been elected on two different manifestos, it is difficult immediately to produce quality Bills. However, the paucity of this particular Bill was extraordinary, as was widely recognised by the Constitution Committee, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and the House of Commons Public Administration Committee, all of which produced devastating critiques of the Bill. It was an unnecessarily rushed Bill and it is clear that the proposals were not properly thought through and that there was no proper consultation. It is thanks to the time that we took to scrutinise the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill that this Bill has been recast, just as we suggested it should have been in the first place.

In the mean time, those bodies that were listed under Schedule 7 and their employees have suffered, as have the communities living in and around the forests and woodlands of our country. But I am grateful to the noble Lord and I hope that the Government will have learnt lessons from this Bill and will ensure that, in future, consultations and White Papers come before legislation in the tried and tested manner.

We continue to have concerns about the process and we will be looking to the Government to make further changes in respect of the super-affirmative procedure. We will also be looking for amendments in relation to the sunsetting of certain aspects of the Bill. Today we will discuss forests, RDAs and the UK Film Council. Thanks to the U-turn on forests-our forests seem to be secure at the moment and we are grateful for that-I hope that the Government will reconsider their proposals on RDAs and the UK Film Council. We will all want to celebrate today the brilliant British success at the Oscars last night with "The King's Speech". We are all terribly proud of that. I look forward to our debates later on today on these issues.