Scotland Bill - Report (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 9:00 pm on 29th February 2016.

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Photo of Lord Higgins Lord Higgins Conservative 9:00 pm, 29th February 2016

My Lords, I have added my name to my noble friend’s Amendment 56A. It would simply insert, at the end of page 16, line 14, the words:

“must be made by statutory instrument”.

That amendment and the other amendments which stand in my name all arise from the 15th report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. I will quote as briefly as possible from the report, but the committee said:

“The Scotland Office have provided a delegated powers memorandum. We were disappointed with the quality of this document. In a number of cases, the explanation given in the memorandum failed to deal adequately with important aspects of the power, and most of the matters to which we are drawing attention in this Report arise from the fact that the explanation of the power in the memorandum is inadequate”.

I will not go on quoting from the Select Committee, but that is the general tone of what it said. In particular, it made a number of detailed criticisms which I have sought to cover by the additional amendments that I have tabled. I would be grateful if my noble friend would be kind enough to say whether he supports the other amendments, all of which seek to implement what was said in the committee’s report.

The committee goes on to deal in a little more detail with the subject matter of Amendment 56A. It said:

“To our surprise, there is nothing on the face of the Bill requiring the regulations to be made by statutory instrument. Since it is the invariable practice … we assume this is a mistake”.

I therefore seek in these amendments to cover the various points that the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee made in its extremely helpful analysis. It would be helpful to know if my noble friend will accept the other amendments as well as Amendment 56A, which appears in both his name and my own.

On Thursday, the committee produced a further report that included remarks it received from the Government, including an apology for the inadequate way in which the proposal was first presented. We could go through each of the amendments in detail but perhaps my noble friend will simply indicate whether he agrees that we need to make the changes that I have put down on the Marshalled List and which implement the committee’s report.