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Statutory Instruments Nos 606 And 607

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 25 April 1951

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55.

asked the Minister of Food why Statutory Instruments, 1951, Nos. 606 and 607, were not published until four days after they had been laid on the Table of this House.

I do not think that this was an unreasonable period for printing, and it certainly conformed with normal practice. Both Orders were published in good time, before they came into operation.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these Orders had been laid on the Table of the House—and that, therefore, that much of the time for dealing with them had run out—four days before they were available to hon. Members? Is he further aware that they came into force within two days of being available to hon. Members? Is not delay of this sort a factor in reducing the control of the House over delegated legislation?

If there has been any unnecessary delay I should like to look into it, but I have looked into the matter, the question having been raised by the hon. Member, and I am satisfied that the practice was one that helped the House to have control over these proceedings. We laid the Order at the earliest possible moment, and the period for printing was not, I think, unreasonable.

Does the right hon. Gentleman not realise that by this procedure he is reducing the statutory requirement of 40 days' notice to 36?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this really does affect the rights of the House? Will he inquire why it should have taken four days after the formal laying took place to print these Orders?

I will certainly do that. I am not responsible, of course, for printing the Orders. I thought my obligation was to make sure that the laying of the Order was carried out at the first possible moment; and that was done. If, later, there is some technical complication, I am not responsible, but I should like to look into it.

In looking into this matter, as he has been good enough to say he will do, will the right hon. Gentleman also look into his own earlier statement that this was the normal time between laying and printing?