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Delegated Legislation

Volume 491: debated on Thursday 23 April 2009

6. What recent consideration she has given to the effectiveness of the House’s procedures for scrutinising delegated legislation. (270330)

As I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, delegated legislation is subject to a number of different procedures, usually depending on the provisions in its parent Act. My right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House and I continue to monitor the effectiveness of all the House’s procedures.

The Deputy Leader of the House will know that a great deal of legislation goes through, necessarily, by statutory instrument, but he will also be aware that it is impossible to amend such statutory instruments; we are given a “take it or leave it” option when such an instrument is put before a Committee upstairs in the Committee corridor. Does he not agree that legislation might be better if amendments to statutory instruments were permitted during such consideration?

Again, this is a proposal that seems attractive but which in the end I do not think is a good idea. As Lord Rippon said in the Hansard Society commission back in 1992, an amendable statutory instrument would be very like a Bill, and all the advantages of the greater flexibility of delegated legislation would be lost. The truth of the matter is that if the Government want to provide for a full legislative process, with amendments possible, it should be primary, not secondary, legislation that is being brought forward.