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Bus Services Bill [HL] - Report (2nd Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:30 pm on 24th October 2016.

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Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport) 7:30 pm, 24th October 2016

My Lords, Clauses 22 and 23 give the Secretary of State the power to make, by way of regulations, consequential, transitional, transitory and saving provisions. Clause 22 provides that the power conferred by that section includes the power to amend, repeal, revoke or otherwise modify both primary and secondary legislation. The clause also specifies that regulations must be made by way of statutory instrument and any regulations that amend or repeal primary legislation must follow the affirmative procedure. Any other regulations under this clause which, for example, amend secondary legislation are subject to the negative procedure.

The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee referred to Clause 22 in its report about this Bill, but only in the context of the power to “otherwise modify” primary legislation by way of making regulations that are subject to the negative procedure. As the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Andrew Jones, explained in his letter of 1 July to the chair of the DPRRC, the Government’s starting point is that regulations which make textual changes to Acts should be subject to affirmative procedure. However, when non-textual modifications would be made by the regulations, the Government continue to believe that the negative procedure is appropriate. The DPRRC did not raise any issues with negative procedure being used for regulations that make consequential changes to secondary legislation, or indeed for regulations made under Clause 23.

Amendments 114A and 114B, which would require all regulations under Clauses 22 and 23 to follow the affirmative process, would introduce a disproportionately burdensome mechanism for changes of the sort which would be made by the regulations to be scrutinised. The Government take the view that it would not be an appropriate use of parliamentary time to require all regulations that make consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provisions to follow the affirmative procedure.

I shall give a quick example. Clause 23 provides that regulations may, in particular, make transitional provision about ticketing schemes under Section 135 of the Transport Act 2000 which exist before the Bill comes into force. Clause 7 contains provisions that introduce advanced ticketing schemes in England. Through our discussions in Committee and Report, these provisions received rigorous parliamentary scrutiny. Any provisions made under Clause 23 would only make provision about how existing ticketing schemes in England are dealt with when the new advanced ticketing schemes provisions come into force. To resolve this issue, regulations may provide that existing schemes can be treated as advanced ticketing schemes. The intention of Amendment 114B is that such regulations would be subject to affirmative procedure. As I said already, I believe that this would be disproportionate. The Government take the view that regulations dealing with such provisions are eminently suitable to the negative procedure. The Government will continue to argue that the current level of parliamentary scrutiny set out in Clauses 22 and 23 is appropriate. I hope that with that explanation the noble Lord feels minded to withdraw his amendment.