Tax Credits Bill

– in a Public Bill Committee at on 22 January 2002.

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[Mr. Jimmy Hood in the Chair]

Photo of Peter Luff Peter Luff Opposition Whip (Commons) 10:30, 22 January 2002

On a point of order, Mr. Hood. Last week we had a useful debate on the regulation-making powers in clause 10. I suggested that although the Bill contains some 19 regulatory powers it would be helpful for the good conduct of the Committee if we tried to avoid having too many debates about them, and your co-Chairman, Mr. Beard, agreed. Then, over the weekend, I saw a report in The Sunday Telegraph stating that the Government have used regulation-making powers to a record-breaking degree—4,155 times last year, which is an increase of one third on the previous record in 1997. The article says:

''Although MPs can vote against statutory instruments, in practice this never happens . . . MPs are now largely irrelevant to the way our laws are made.''

So far we have debated some nine regulation-making powers, three of which went through on the nod because of the guillotine, and there are about seven coming up in relation to our proceedings today and possibly on Thursday. The exact number depends on how one defines a regulation-making power; some are very narrow and some are very broad. Clause 23 certainly contains regulation-making powers.

In view of the revelation that the Government are using regulation-making powers on such a massive scale, Mr. Hood, what is your view on clause stand part debates in that respect? The Bill contains an enormous range of such powers, so will you allow us to test the Minister on the rationale behind each one?

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General (HM Treasury)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Hood. The hon. Gentleman's question was addressed to you, and you decide on how best to handle our debates. However, I may be able to help the Committee. I have not seen the article that he mentioned, but our first concern is to ensure that draft amendments are available. We will discuss regulatory powers in the context of clauses 23 and 24—

Photo of Jimmy Hood Jimmy Hood Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee

Order. The Minister is responding to a matter for debate that was raised by the hon. Gentleman in his point of order. Revelations in the press, regardless of whether they are factual, are not a matter for the Chair, and the hon. Gentleman should address his remarks to the Minister. In relation to clause stand part debates, I will consider them on their merits, as I always do.