Commencement

Nuclear Safeguards Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:00 pm on 14th November 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) 2:00 pm, 14th November 2017

I beg to move amendment 7, in clause 4, page 5, line 6, at end add—

“(5) Regulations under subsection (2) may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.”

This amendment would prevent the commencement of clauses 1 and 2 without the regulations made under this section being subject to the affirmative procedure.

This is a simple amendment that repeats the requirement suggested in other amendments for secondary legislation to be subject to the affirmative, rather than negative, procedure. I made the case this morning for the power of the affirmative procedure. As hon. Members can see, the amendment would ensure that regulations under subsection (2) could not be made unless a draft instrument were laid before Parliament and approved by a resolution of each House—that means an affirmative resolution.

I do not think we need go over the difference between an affirmative and a negative resolution and why we think affirmative resolutions are always better. Through the amendment, we simply seek to ensure that regulations made under subsection (2) are subject to the affirmative procedure. I do not think we need to detain the Committee too much further with detailed discussion. We think this is important and consider that it should be included in the Bill, to ensure that matters properly come before the House when these issues are discussed.

Photo of Richard Harrington Richard Harrington Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

Good afternoon, everybody. I thank the hon. Gentleman for not repeating what he said about affirmative and negative procedure, because those points were well made this morning. I have sympathy, of course, with his broad aims of strengthening parliamentary scrutiny, but I argue that this is not an appropriate process to put in place. Parliament will have already passed the Bill and approved the legislation. I am confident that there are appropriate processes in place to ensure proper parliamentary scrutiny of the substantive powers in the Bill.

Clause 4 contains a commencement power. It is entirely conventional for the commencement power not to be subject to any parliamentary procedure because, as I say, it brings into force law that Parliament has already enacted. Clauses 1 and 2 contain delegated powers that must—I know “must” is one of the hon. Gentleman’s favourite words in the English language—be exercised before the UK’s new nuclear safeguards regime can be brought into effect. The regulations necessary to do so will be subject to the draft affirmative procedure. It would serve no useful purpose, in the Government’s view, to make the power to commence those delegated powers subject to the draft affirmative procedure.

I would like to reassure hon. Members that draft nuclear safeguard regulations are currently being worked on in close collaboration with the Office for Nuclear Regulation, and we will provide drafts during the passage of the legislation. The precise arrangements for the future safeguards regime and the details of the regulations will be subject to further consideration and detailed consultation with the regulator, industry and other interested parties.

Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I am grateful to the Minister for mentioning that detailed regulations will be available during the Bill’s passage. Would he perhaps be more specific about that and say when those draft regulations might appear? I assume it will not be in Committee, but it should certainly be before Report.

Photo of Richard Harrington Richard Harrington Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

As I said, my hope is that that will happen soon. I cannot confirm that it will be before Report, because I do not know when that will be—unless the hon. Gentleman has any information. I certainly hope that it will happen by the end of this year or very early in January, but that is allowing myself a bit of wiggle room. There is no great secret going on; we are just ensuring that all the detail and everything is in place. With that in mind, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

I thank the Minister for his explanation of the circumstances under which commencement would take place, and what regulations would proceed under that. Although I am not completely convinced that it provides exactly the safeguards that we require, it does go a long way towards reassuring us on the status of the Bill, so we will not press the amendment to a vote. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Conservative, North Wiltshire

Amendment 8 was debated previously, but I do not think that the hon. Gentleman seeks to divide the Committee—I think not, from his lack of response.

Clause 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 5 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

New Clause 1