Clause 4

Part of Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:30 pm on 25 October 2007.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice 1:30, 25 October 2007

These amendments are the first of several that the hon. and learned Gentleman has tabled that seek to remove delegated powers from the Bill. The use of order and regulation-making powers is a well established means of removing unnecessary detail from primary legislation and of conferring a sensible degree of flexibility on the legislative scheme. It has been used not just by the current Government but by previous Governments.

We have set out the rationale for each delegated power in a memorandum that we published on the introduction of the Bill, and I hope that members of the Committee can reflect upon that rationale. I must say to the hon. and learned Gentleman that the parliamentary scrutiny element of that memorandum will be considered in due course by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee in another place. That Committee, as members of this Committee may know, is never slow to criticise any excessive use of delegated powers. In the event that the delegated powers aspects of the legislation are considered by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and the Committee makes suggestions, I will certainly consider those suggestions in the normal way and give sympathetic consideration to recommendations that the Committee makes.

I believe that the order-making power is necessary and justified, and that it gives us the flexibility to adapt the interpretation of legislation, particularly relating to the responsible officer in this case. The order-making power will enable the Secretary of State to require courts to determine who should be the appropriate responsible officer where the order contains more than one requirement.

On that basis, I commend the order-making power in the Bill to the Committee. I understand the hon. and learned Gentleman’s concerns. I hope that the fact that the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee will examine this legislation in detail reassures him. The Committee will make recommendations and those recommendations will be considered by the Government, and if it suggests changes, I give a commitment to consider them sympathetically, in the light of any comments that it wishes to make.