First, Mr. Gale, I echo the comments of the hon. Member for East Devon (Mr. Swire) in welcoming you to the Chair.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Mr. Foster) and I support the amendment, as it would increase consultation. We had a somewhat heated debate this morning about prescription per se. The Government believe that it is important for the provision to remain in the Bill, but many people feel that it is worrying for the Secretary of State to have that power. The Minister sought to reassure us but, if that consultation procedure were included elsewhere in the Bill, it might reassure those with concerns.
As we have said, it is clearly important that the voice of the voluntary and community sector be heard. Earlier amendments were about the sector being consulted in other ways, but it is important to set out how consultation should take place. The amendment sets out a process of consultation that fits with the 1998 compact, by which Departments are required to abide. Three months would be sufficient time for consultation, and a variety of methods could be used. The internet is a new and growing method of ensuring that consultation is extensive and meaningful. The NCVO supports the amendment; it says that it sits well with the compact.