In response to Mr Gorrie's comments, I think that he has missed the whole point of the amendments. I am extremely pleased to see amendment 1, as I lodged a similar amendment at stage 2 that I did not press because the Executive agreed to reconsider the matter. The entire reason for lodging the amendments in this group is to allow Parliament to have another look at the issue. In doing that, the Executive is responding to concerns that the voluntary sector raised with both the Finance Committee and the Education
The Finance Committee—of which I was a member at the time—had significant concerns about the costs that might arise if retrospective checking was introduced too early. The concern was not just about the cost to the voluntary sector but about whether the system would be able to cope and whether there might be increased costs on the Executive.
Amendment 1 provides all of us with another chance to consider the system that is being introduced. For the subject committee, the amendment reinforces the opportunity—which it would have had anyway—to scrutinise the matter when it considers the regulations. The successor committee to the Finance Committee will have another opportunity to consider the matter because of the powers that that committee has to look at statutory instruments. The committees of the Parliament will be able to reassure themselves about the scheme. The amendment will also allow the voluntary sector, which raised its concerns with us, to be consulted on the implementation of the scheme. For those reasons, I very much welcome the amendment.
I also welcome the fact that the regulations will be introduced under the affirmative procedure, so they will require the approval of the full Parliament. The matter will be considered not just by committees but by the full Parliament. I hope that that will reassure the voluntary sector that the Education Committee and the Executive have listened carefully and responded to the sector's concerns.