New Clause 10 - Power to abolish Public Works Loan Commissioners

Part of Infrastructure Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:00 pm on 13th January 2015.

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Photo of John Hayes John Hayes Minister of State (Department for Transport) 5:00 pm, 13th January 2015

I am not a rationalist, so I am not sure I would want to identify with rationalism in any way, but I am certainly vigorous, and I will take the compliment in the terms that it was offered.

The hon. Member for City of Durham also asked what the key powers conferred by the 1875 Act were and who now exercises them. The key powers are to refuse a loan on the basis of a lack of security against repaying the loan, to appoint a secretary to hold the security—I mentioned that earlier—and to delegate the PWLB functions to that person and to issue a report as I have described. All the functions that remain have been delegated to that civil servant—the secretary—and are overseen in practice through the HMT/DMO accounting officer structure.

The hon. Member for Southampton, Test mentioned the long title of the Bill. I do not want to stray into other matters, except to say that he is right: the long title of the Bill will need to be amended to take account of all the exciting, vigorous features which are now part of it. However, as I have mentioned before, it is by no means unprecedented, as he knows, for the long title of a Bill to evolve over time, because it is not uncommon for Governments to bring forward amendments to Bills during their passage.

The hon. Member for City of Durham drew attention to the need for Members to be properly briefed when that happens. I wanted to do so, because there is a responsibility to properly inform Members about the detail and assuage any doubts. To that end, what I will do—I know this will please almost everybody in this Room—is send a short note on the 1875 Act and subsequent legislation to Committee members. Various members have drawn attention to that during their considerations.