Power to make consequential provision

Local Government Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:30 am on 21 February 2017.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Gareth Thomas Gareth Thomas Party Chair, Co-operative Party, Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government)

Briefly, the clause raises the thorny question of the use of statutory instruments by the Executive and whether Ministers think they should be subject to affirmative procedure, requiring scrutiny in Committee, or allowed to slip through under negative procedure. Given the importance of business rates to our economy and the more general concern about them, we assert that if statutory instruments are used by Ministers further down the line to introduce regulations, they should be subject to the affirmative procedure and open for the public to see our debate in the House. The SIs should be introduced under the affirmative procedure. I look forward to the Minister confirming whether or not that will be the case.

Photo of Rob Marris Rob Marris Labour, Wolverhampton South West

Clause 39 is a catch-all, and it is part of a Bill that allows the Secretary of State more than a dozen opportunities to make regulations. As if that is not enough red tape, clause 39 then states, “Oh, if we have forgotten anything, we can make a few regulations about that.” I do not think that that is good enough in a democracy. There needs to be much more clarity. Someone should have looked at the gaps in the clause and we should have had specificity, as we do in at least a dozen other places in the Bill, rather than a general catch-all and comments along the lines of, “Oh well, if we make mistakes, we’ll be all right, because we can rely on clause 39.” Frankly, that is not good enough in a parliamentary democracy.

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

Clauses 39 to 41 make standard provision in relation to expenditure incurred, consequential provision that can be made, and the Bill’s extent. Clause 39 confers on the Secretary of State a power to make such consequential provision as is considered appropriate for the purposes of the Bill. Although the Bill contains as many consequential amendments as possible, we may find that there are further consequential amendments to make to either primary or secondary legislation.

Before I go on to clause 40—

Order. If we could debate clause 39 now, not clause 40, I would be grateful.

Photo of Marcus Jones Marcus Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Local Government)

Yes, Mr Gapes. I was just coming on to the question about parliamentary procedure in regard to consequential amendments. The Bill makes numerous changes to existing legislation, including changes of terminology. Although the Bill contains many consequential amendments—we have tried to include as many of those as possible at this point—we may need to make further amendments to either primary or secondary legislation. The regulations containing any amendments to primary legislation will certainly be subject to the affirmative procedure, as the hon. Member for Harrow West asked.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 39 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 40