Committee (1st Day)

Part of Housing and Planning Bill – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 9th February 2016.

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Photo of Lord Campbell-Savours Lord Campbell-Savours Labour 4:15 pm, 9th February 2016

My Lords, I want to intervene briefly again, because this raises an issue of principle which came up during our consideration of tax credits. If you read the report of the Joint Committee on Conventions—the Cunningham report—you will find, under one of the sections, the conditions in which the House feels it is entitled to vote on fatal amendments. I am increasingly of the view, as I think are a number of other Members on this side of the House, that the Government are now abusing legislation by introducing skeleton Bills and bringing in, on the back of them, statutory instruments which they feel the House cannot consider in detail because we cannot amend them. This is a classic case of where, had the House had been given more information in the Bill, we would at least have had the opportunity to debate the detail, within the circumscribed area referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Deben, that would allow for flexibility. We could have considered in some detail what the crimes—if I might use that word, although it is a very broad one—might be.

I feel very strongly about fatal amendments. When it came to the consideration of tax credits, I was one of the very few Labour Peers who refused to vote, on the basis that I did regard what we were doing as fatal. That is how strongly I felt. However, increasingly in conversations with others, they will point to these recommendations on skeleton Bills and the use of SIs. One is being driven into a position whereby one has to vote on fatals—something which I never wanted to do when I was brought to this House some 15 years ago. As the Bill progresses, the noble Baroness should have it in mind that we need more detail, particularly in areas where Members might feel they wish to amend primary legislation.