Clause 55 - Orders and regulations

Animal Welfare Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:00 pm on 26th January 2006.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) 1:00 pm, 26th January 2006

I beg to move amendment No. 49, in clause 55, page 29, line 6, after ‘orders’, insert ‘, codes’.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following amendments: No. 50, in clause 55, page 29, line 8, after ‘11’, insert

‘, or codes made under 13,’.

No. 51, in clause 55, page 29, line 8, leave out subsection (2) and insert—

‘(2)All—

(a)regulations,

(b)licensing and registration regimes, and

(c)codes of practice, made under this Act shall only be made after the Secretary of State has presented them in the form of a draft statutory instrument which has been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament.’.

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

After that attack on Her Majesty’s corgis, we should move quickly on.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet

Do not even begin to go down that road.

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

I suspect that the hon. Member for Lewes is trying to protect the corgis, rather than attack them.

The three amendments are intended to harmonise procedure for enacting secondary legislation in the Bill, which has different procedures for the enactment of regulation, codes of practice and licensing and registration regimes. That may well be inconsistent. Many controversial and contentious matters could be included in secondary legislation, so it is important that there should be an onus to debate and approve matters positively rather than introducing some through the negative procedure.

Although I acknowledge that that may be a small burden on parliamentary time, I am conscious of the need to make sure that such regulations, codes of practice and licensing registration regimes are fair and effective. In addition, I believe that Parliament should scrutinise secondary legislation enacted for not only its content but its method. We have been through a lot of this debate before.

Given that the Government have already set themselves a target in the Bill’s regulatory impact assessment to introduce most of the required secondary legislation within the next few years, they might, in their haste, make mistakes, or they may not consult as fully or widely as we would want. The amendment would reduce the possibility of legislative short cuts, enhance the democratic accountability of the Government and strengthen our democracy.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare)

We have already discussed whether codes should be made by affirmative or negative procedure. Amendment No. 49 would require the codes to be exercisable by statutory instrument. We believe that that is excessive because the codes are not legislation and therefore not capable of being statutory instruments within the meaning given to them by the 1946 Act. Amendment No. 50 would appear to result in two procedures for the approval of codes of practice—both the affirmative and negative. I assume that the intention was to make the code subject exclusively to the affirmative procedure. Amendment No. 51 would require that all delegated powers in the Bill be subject to affirmative resolution. That would include the issuing of codes, as well as the minor power under clause 49(6) to extend the power of detention or some modified form of it to hovercraft.

The Bill requires the Secretary of State to publish a draft or revised code, on which there must be full consultation, every time he or she proposes to issue a code. The draft will then be laid before Parliament, and either House may resolve not to approve it within 40 days, in which case it cannot proceed. Therefore, the procedure gives Parliament the final say as to whether codes should be adopted, but it is not as onerous or time consuming as a full affirmative procedure.

We believe that the procedure allows for the right level of scrutiny. As failure to comply with a code will not of itself constitute an offence, we believe that a higher form of scrutiny is not necessary. As I said the other day, we expect to introduce a large number of codes to cover the different species of animal covered   by the Bill, and they may be revised as science and society develop. If we bind ourselves to an affirmative procedure, that could create undue delay and possibly even prevent important changes to codes taking place quickly in the light of scientific evidence. Parliament will always be able to scrutinise a code if it wishes to do so, but it may not need to debate every code if it does not consider it appropriate.

On that basis I urge the hon. Gentleman to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Bill Wiggin Bill Wiggin Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

As the Minister said, clearly we would prefer positive statutory instruments, but, as we need to make progress this afternoon, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 55 ordered to stand part of the Bill.