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Effect Of Apportionment Order

Volume 932: debated on Friday 20 May 1977

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I beg to move Amendment No. 11, in page 6, line 40, leave out 'substitute' and insert 'specify, in substitution'.

This is a little more than a drafting amendment. Frequently, when dealing with Statutory Instruments and considering whether they are vires, intra vires or ultra vires the parent Act, one comes across the phrase about the Secretary of State being able to put into the order something that he considers to be appropriate. The question arises whether he should be able to put into a Statutory Instrument such a figure as seems appropriate to him, or whether it must be a specified figure.

I have suggested a form of words which gets us out of that difficulty altogether. These words make absolutely sure that if the Secretary of State, in making regulations, substitutes some other figure for the figure mentioned in the clause, the regulations themselves shall specify that figure. On the wording in the Bill—the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments has looked at this matter from time to time—it is not entirely clear. Under Clause 7(6), as it stands, the Secretary of State can make regulations saving that, in his own discretion, he shall fix a figure whenever he considers it appropriate. I want to make certain that when he intends to alter it—hon. Members know what I am talking about—he must state the actual figure in the regulations. I believe that the words in my amendment will make it absolutely certain that that is done.

Having twice turned down the right hon. Gentleman's amendments, and possibly because I am influenced by the fact that he, like myself, hopes and expects that there will be rejoicing in the streets of Liverpool, I am prepared to accept this amendment. It is rare that three words in the place of one make better sense and clarify an issue. I make no criticism of the existing drafting, but it may be that the wording suggested by the right hon. Gentleman will make the meaning clearer.

Amendment agreed to.