Clause 19

Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:15 pm on 31st October 2006.

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Power to amend Schedule 1

Question proposed,That the clause stand part ofthe Bill.

Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General

I have one query for the Minister. The clause is about the power to amend schedule 1. An amendment that I tabled to the clause was not selected, but we touched on the matter on Second Reading. When I expressed a concern, a Government Member—I cannot now remember who—suggested to me that I was mistaken in my view. I had said that I was a bit concerned about the power to amend schedule 1 under the negative procedure. The point was perfectly well made to me that the negative procedure would apply only in certain circumstances. However, in one circumstance, the power to amend schedule 1 seemed slightly unusual.

Subsection (3) makes provision for certain obvious amendments under the negative procedure, including those

“consequential on a department or other body listed in Schedule 1 changing its name”.

Nobody can possibly object to that. Paragraph (b) provides:

“in the case of an amendment adding a department or other body to Schedule 1, it is consequential on the transfer to the department or other body of functions all of which were previously exercisable by one or more organisations to which section 1 applies”.

There is no problem with that either. It is in paragraph (c) that the potential problem lies. It provides for the circumstances if

“in the case of an amendment removing a department or other body from Schedule 1, it is consequential on—

(i) the abolition of the department or other body, or

(ii) the transfer of all the functions of the department or other body to one or more organisations to which section 1 applies.”

Paragraph (c)(ii) presents no difficulty, but the fact that the word “or” rather than “and” links sub-paragraphs (i) and (ii) implies that if the Government chose to abolish completely a Department or body, any of its responsibilities under the corporate manslaughter provisions could immediately disappear under the negative procedure.

It could be argued that, if the Government decided to abolish, for example, the Department of Trade and Industry, there might be some debate on the subject, and the Department’s areas of responsibility might be considered. However, I am slightly concerned that all the Department’s responsibilities under the Bill could simply vanish on abolition without transfer, because subsection (3)(c) refers to

“the abolition of the department ... or ... the transfer”.

I should have expected the link word between subparagraphs (i) and (ii) to be “and”. If I am wrong about that, the Minister will no doubt put me right. That is why I tabled the amendment. However, it was not selected so I have not had the opportunity to speak to it.

Photo of Gerry Sutcliffe Gerry Sutcliffe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 12:30 pm, 31st October 2006

The hon. Gentleman has been persuasive as usual. I am considering what he hasjust said. We touched on this matter in the debate on clause 15 and the relevant amendments. At that point, the hon. Gentleman was suspicious about our choices regarding the affirmative and negative procedures andI was trying to explain the differences relating to  administration. I will reflect on what he has said and write to him in due course, expressing our view, because he may be right about the wording.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 19 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 20 and 21 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 2 agreed to.

Clause 22 ordered to stand part of the Bill.