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Clause 10 - Consultancy services and training

Natural Environment and Rural Communities Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 21st June 2005.

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

Photo of John Mann John Mann Labour, Bassetlaw

I rise to make another pedantic point, but such things are rather important when framing legislation. Subsection (2)(b) uses the word “thinks”, but the word seems rather ambiguous. Who is to determine whether something has been thought? It ought to be a word such as “determines”, otherwise someone may think that a thought has taken place and then enact it. That may lead to expenditure. However, others may think that it had not been thought; in other words, that it had never been determined in anything other than through the thought process. Although it is pedantic point, it is an accurate one.

The second one is about the use of the word “special”. Again, it is a rather broad and strange term to have used. The second use of the word may have some logic, as a specialist has some relationship to “professional”.

I make these points because of the danger of ambiguity, although I chose not to raise one or two examples in previous clauses that are open to some ambiguity. If ambiguity is built into legislation, problems may arise unnecessarily about what Parliament intended.

Photo of Jim Knight Jim Knight Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) (Rural Affairs, Landscape and Biodiversity)

As always, I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Were it not for the fact that he is such an excellent Member of Parliament serving the people of Bassetlaw, he would clearly have had a future as a drafting official.

I refer to a conversation that we had this morning, when I said that in forming Natural England we are forming a legal person, and one would hope that a person has the capacity to think. I suggest that the body corporate’s thoughts would be made by the board, and as such they would be recorded as board decisions. They would therefore be subject to more scrutiny than my individual thoughts or those of other hon. Members.

As for the second “special” in subsection (2)(b), I am inclined to agree that “specialist” might be better. I shall reflect on that, taking advice from my good   assistants, who have been listening carefully to my hon. Friend’s wise words. In general, I would say that in order to further its purpose, Natural England needs to be able to use its expertise to help others deliver. The clause allows Natural England to place its staff on secondment and provide training to any person.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 10 ordered to stand part of the Bill.