I note that in clause 18, both the phrase
“consult such persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate” in subsection (1)(b), and the phrase
“substantial change in the code” are obviously very general statements, as is
“maintaining the power vested in the Secretary of State.”
It would be helpful, as we consider this clause, if the Minister could briefly outline what the force of the statement in subsection (1)(b) is on the consultation. What would he expect a substantial change in the code to be, in terms of degree?
This leads on rather nicely from the debate that we have just had, because it might have been helpful to say that the codes of practice will be consulted on and debated fully. That will give a chance to hon. Members and anyone who has a view to say what should be in the code. However, this is standard language used in any legislation for consultation. Clearly, the Secretary of State will consult people whom we currently consult. That provides us with the flexibility that we, and the Liberal Democrats, believe is so important in dealing with the ever changing challenges and in taking on board new ways of dealing with those challenges. That is what we intend to do.