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Delegated Legislation (Government Proposals)

Volume 526: debated on Wednesday 14 April 1954

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asked the Prime Minister whether he is now in a position to state the proposals of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the Report of the Select Committee on Delegated Legislation as a whole.

I have been asked to reply. Yes. As the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be aware, the House has already put into effect Recommendation (1) of the Select Committee, respecting the procedure for discussing negative Prayers, by approving the Sessional Order which I submitted on 31st March.Her Majesty's Government also accept Recommendation (3), respecting the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments (the Scrutiny Committee), although I must make it clear that it has always been the Government's object to set up this Committee as speedily as possible each Session. The Government also understand that Recommendation (4), which, likewise, concerns the Scrutiny Committee, presents no difficulty.With regard to Recommendation (5) of the Select Committee, respecting the period during which Statutory Instruments subject to negative Resolution remain open to annulment, Her Majesty's Government cannot hold out any prospect of early legislation to extend the present statutory period of 40 days.They considered it the more important, therefore, that means should be found of carrying out, so far as possible, the first part of this recommendation, namely, that the statutory 40 days should begin to run from the date when copies of a Statutory Instrument are available to hon. Members generally in the Vote Office.They therefore undertake to ensure by administrative means that at least 50 copies of instruments and drafts subject to negative Resolution will normally be made available in the Vote Office when the instruments or drafts are laid, subject to its being understood that there will be exceptional cases of an urgent kind where this will not be practicable for "bona fide" reasons of public interest; in such cases a supply of copies will be made available as soon as possible thereafter.With regard to Recommendation (6) of the Select Committee, concerning the forms of heading of Statutory Instruments, Her Majesty's Government will arrange that a suitable note in italics shall be included at the head of all instruments (including drafts) which cannot come into operation, and cannot, therefore, be registered as Statutory Instruments, until certain requirements, Parliamentary or otherwise, have been completed in respect of them, as such a note can be removed when the Statutory Instrument is finally printed for publication.They do not consider, however, that such a note would be desirable in the case of instruments laid after making and subject to negative Resolution (namely, those to which Section 5 of the Statutory Instruments Act, 1946 applies) or laid with immediate effect but requiring affirmative Resolution, as a condition of continuance, as the note would appear on all copies printed and sold, or issued, up to the date, when a reprint was called for.Nor do they consider that a note is necessary in the case of the small category of instruments, which are required to be laid before Parliament after they are made, but which are exempt from both affirmative and negative Resolution procedure.Her Majesty's Government are unable to accept Recommendation (2) of the Select Committee, namely, that a Prayer for the annulment of a Statutory Instrument should set out the reasons for such annulment, and they do not regard Recommendation (7), relating to certain recommendations of the Donoughmore Committee, as calling for special comment.