Clause 16 - Regulations and orders

Children and Adoption Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:30 am on 21 March 2006.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Minister (Children)

Owing to an oversight on our part, we have not tabled any amendments to this clause, although we might return to it on Report.

The clause is very powerful. It gives weight to all the regulations that the Secretary of State can make, and there are an awful lot of those. We have said that a lot of the detail is not in the Bill and that a lot of power is being given to the Secretary of State to make regulations, to which we are not privy at this stage, at her determination and at a later date.

Subsection (3) makes such regulations subject to the negative resolution procedure—that is, if hon. Members are fortunate enough to notice that the regulations are looming, they will have to pray against them. Given the detail missing and the amount of work that still needs to be done on the regulations, does the   Minister not think that they should be subject to an affirmative resolution of both Houses so that hon. Members and noble Lords have the opportunity to debate them in more detail? We do not have the opportunity to do so now, because those regulations are not available in any draft form. Perhaps the Minister will consider that request and return to it on Report.

Photo of Maria Eagle Maria Eagle Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Children and Families)

The hon. Gentleman, startlingly honest as ever, said that he forgot to table amendments to the clause—that, anyway, is my interpretation of what he said; perhaps I am being too cruel.

The clause is a relatively standard one, although the hon. Gentleman has legitimate questions to raise about it; I do not complain about that. It sets out how secondary legislation under the powers conferred by the Bill is to be made: any power to make regulations under the Bill should be exercisable by statutory instrument and make use of the negative resolution procedure.

The hon. Gentleman asked whether that was the right way round and whether the affirmative resolution procedure should be used. There is nothing exceptional about this use of the negative procedure, which is in line with how it is usually used. Given the nature of some regulations, affirmative procedures are at times more appropriate; at times the negative procedure is more appropriate.

The hon. Gentleman will know that there are conventions about such things. The Bill does not breach those. That may reassure him, although it may not. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee in the other place considered the implications of the regulation-making powers and was content with the Bill’s provisions, so there has been parliamentary scrutiny in that sense.

I accept the hon. Gentleman’s point: some Opposition Members always prefer regulations to be made by the affirmative procedure. However, the use of the negative procedure is not out of line with normal practice, and I hope that he accepts it on that basis.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 16 ordered to stand part of the Bill.