Regulatory Enforcement and Sanctions Bill [Lords]

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 17 June 2008.

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Photo of Mark Prisk Mark Prisk Shadow Minister (Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform) 10:30, 17 June 2008

I add my welcome to you, Mr. Chope. I know that you will provide us with firm and fair guidance from the Chair as we consider the matters before us. I also welcome the Minister. I am sure that we shall have a positive dialogue, and I hope that we can provide him with some relief from the endless debates on post office closures that have, I suspect, been a darker period for him. I hope we can provide him with a little relief from that in our social responsibility role on the Conservative Benches. I welcome the fact that no knives or guillotines are contained in the programme motion and I know that as a staunch parliamentarian, Mr. Chope, you will welcome the fact that there are no such limits on our ability to consider the matters in their full. That is important because sometimes Labour Members take a heavy-handed approach, which can limit our ability to explore the unintended consequences of such issues.

As the Minister said, the Bill began in the other place and, to use his words, it has been improved. The Government have been forced to accept more than 12 major concessions, and I put on the record my sincere congratulations to all the Members of the other place who participated in that process, particularly my Conservative colleagues who engaged actively in that scrutiny and did their job extremely well. However, there remain some worries and the Minister referred to one or two of them, which is why the programme motion is important.

There are concerns about the powers and scope of the Bill, about accountability, about the potential for injustice in what might be seen as a parking fine approach to regulation in part 3 and about whether the Bill can achieve what Ministers are promising. However, given the concessions already made in another place, my aim in the debate is to be precise in my scrutiny and concise in my remarks, so I have no intention or wish to oppose the motion.