Clause 2 - Meaning of ``burden'' and related expressions

Part of Regulatory Reform Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 27th March 2001.

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Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office) 4:30 pm, 27th March 2001

There are two changes to the definition of a burden in the 1994 Act. The hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) has concentrated on the inclusion of a restriction on incurring expenditure in the definition of a burden. That definition clearly applies to vaccine-damaged children and to their families, who, under the definition in previous Acts, would have been paid nothing if their children were less than 80 per cent. damaged.

I can give the hon. Gentleman three assurances. First—and we are yet to reach this part of the debate—the normal consultation and deep consideration by two Committees will ensure that the process is not abused in the way in which he imagines. Secondly, this is not a blank cheque. The definition is concerned with an ability to spend in a particular area, and Parliament's processes for checking expenditure must be adhered to. One cannot agree to spend money through a regulatory reform order because Parliament and the Government must go through their normal procedures. Thirdly—this is admittedly an incomplete reassurance—we trawled for examples of cases in which the Bill could be used, but we found only a few. I do not envisage that the definitions will be used on many occasions, and I hope that he will be content with my two major reassurances.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.