Clause 15 - Orders and Regulations

Part of Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 8:55 am on 12 March 2013.

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Photo of Hugh Robertson Hugh Robertson The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport 8:55, 12 March 2013

Welcome to day five, Mr Streeter. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, Southgate, for tabling amendment 40. As he has very clearly said, it proposes a kind of super-affirmative resolution procedure. That procedure was laid out in the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006, the purpose of which was to remove or reduce burdens imposed by legislation. We believe that the powers in the Bill simply enable secondary legislation to be made, or to give effect to the fundamental purpose of the Bill which, as everybody knows, is to enable same-sex couples to marry through civil ceremonies, and through religious ceremonies where the religious organisation and the individual minister consent. Crucially, as we all now know, this is on a purely permissive basis.

Against that backdrop, we believe that the Bill makes appropriate provision for the right level of parliamentary scrutiny of secondary legislation. Those cases are set out in clause 15 (2) and (3). The problem, in a sense, with amendment 40 is that a minor consequential amendment to secondary legislation would still be subject to the same detailed process, including formal consultation. However, this is day five. For the first time, I shall use a cricketing analogy: we have now been going longer than a full five-day test match. In an attempt to meet my hon.  Friend halfway, the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee will look at this piece of legislation. If it considers that the level of scrutiny is incorrect, insubstantial or in any way not appropriate to a piece of legislation of this type, it will make such representations to the Government. I absolutely give him a commitment on the record that we will look at that extremely carefully. Rather than have this particular debate tied up in our looking at it from the procedural end of the telescope and my hon. Friend looking at it from the policy end, it is reasonable to allow that Committee, which is how we normally deal with these matters, to have a look at it, and for me to give him a commitment that if they recommend courses other than the one that we have taken, we will look at that carefully. With that, I urge him to withdraw his amendment.