Clause 25

Part of Further Education and Training Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 1:45 pm on 14th June 2007.

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Photo of Nick Ainger Nick Ainger Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Wales Office 1:45 pm, 14th June 2007

My problem is that I cannot request the Welsh Affairs Committee to undertake any inquiry or any pre-legislative scrutiny, so it was not invited to do so. However, every member of that Committee received a letter signed by me, including a copy of the explanatory memorandum, which goes into considerable detail about what is proposed. I know all the Committee members extremely well, including the three Conservative members of the Committee and the Conservative Front-Bench spokesman. If they had genuine concerns about the Bill and what was being transferred to the Assembly, they would have drawn them to the attention of the Chairman and requested some form of inquiry or pre-legislative scrutiny. They have had time to do that, and I assume that they decided that they did not want to, so it was not a question of my inviting them. I drew to the attention of every member of that Committee that the clause was going through the House, and I provided an explanatory memorandum. It was for them to make that decision, which I could not direct them to take. I hope that the hon. Gentleman accepts that point.

I have touched on the explanatory memorandum and what the norm will be. We will cover this in our response to the Welsh Affairs Committee report. We will provide every opportunity, given the time constraints in our legislative programme, for pre-legislative scrutiny. We are not in the business of trying to slip any of this through. In this case, even though there has been criticism, we were forewarning people of what was coming through and what was being proposed.