Clause 6 - Document to be laid before parliament

Part of Regulatory Reform Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:00 am on 29th March 2001.

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Photo of Graham Stringer Graham Stringer Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office) 10:00 am, 29th March 2001

Before I discuss amendments Nos. 38 and 39, I would like to add a final point to our discussion on clause 5 and its relation to the devolution settlement. I said, at the end of Tuesday's debate, that the powers to make regulatory reform follow the devolution settlement. I should have added that the power under clause 1 had not been devolved to the Welsh Assembly. What I said was not incorrect, but did not give the full picture.

The amendment has two aims. First, it tries to define what is appropriate and to deal with the problem of the definition of elephants. That was referred to in debates in the other place. Secondly, it seeks to use detailed wording to tie down rogue Ministers, or even rogue Governments. That theme has run through debates on the Bill. The hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare suggested that a rogue Minister might be tempted to undertake only half-hearted consultation, in seeking to introduce a constitutional regulatory reform order in the guise of something else.

That misrepresents the strength of the consultation process that is laid down in the Bill. As was said on Tuesday, that process is not just a matter for the Minister. The Committees of both Houses will have to be satisfied that the consultation has been properly carried out. The Minister will have to satisfy a host of conditions, and the Committees can insist on further consultation, or even carry it out themselves. The structure of the Committees and of the consultation process means that a rogue Minister should not be a problem.

We are left only with the problem of appropriateness. The details that the Committees must address will reveal whether the Bill could cause conflict and disagreement over constitutional matters. If such a case were proven, that would be an inappropriate path for the measure to go down and even a rogue Minister would be too sensible to go down it.

The amendment is unnecessary because the structure of the Bill deals with the issue thoroughly. I am happy to echo my noble and learned Friend Lord Falconer, who said that it was not the intention of the Government to bring forward constitutional reform via the regulatory reform order process. I ask the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.