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Regulations And Orders

Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 26 November 1997

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Lords amendment: No. 11, in page 18, line 9, at end insert—

("() Before making any regulations or order under this Act, the Ministers shall consult such organisations as appear to them to be representative of persons likely to be substantially affected by the regulations or order.")

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

The amendment requires Ministers to consult organisations representing those likely to be substantially affected before making orders and regulations under the Bill. We are consulting day in and day out as a matter of routine, so we had no difficulty when we were asked to enshrine this requirement in the Bill in the other place.

I welcome the fact that the Minister is prepared to accept that organisations should be consulted and that he is willing for that to be spelt out in the Bill. That is a welcome step.

I draw attention to the fact that the amendment refers to the Plant Varieties Act 1997. That phrase was introduced in the House of Lords on 23 October this year. That is symptomatic of the fact that the Government have sought to push the Bill through at lightning speed from the moment that they took office in May, even to the extent that they assume in the amendment that it will be on the statute book before the end of the year.

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that everyone involved in the industry has been asking for the Bill for many years? It may have been rather dilatory of the previous Government not to have introduced the Bill earlier.

I welcome the commitment to consultation, which is the thrust of what the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mrs. Campbell) is saying. I shall return to my second point in a moment.

The Opposition welcome the Government's decision to include a commitment to consultation in the Bill. I welcome the fact that the Government have pursued a line that is usually taken by the Opposition, whoever they may be. The Opposition often demand that a commitment to consultation should be written on to the face of the Bill. I am grateful to the Government for making that commitment.

I am also grateful to the Minister. The Lords amendment is testimony to the open way in which he has handled the Bill throughout. I want to use this speech as a vehicle to thank him for the way in which he has handled the Bill. I regret that it was rushed through the House especially as, as the Minister knows, it was introduced about two days after the Opposition Front-Bench team took on its new responsibilities. We had a fast learning curve, although I realise that that is not unusual on either side of the House, as the Minister well knows. I also thank him for his courtesy in responding to our questions. He has looked for consultation, as is enshrined in the amendment.

I look forward to the Minister's response on one or two of the issues I raised earlier. I thank him for everything he has done and I am happy to support the amendment.

Lords amendment agreed to.