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Pre-legislative Scrutiny

Volume 517: debated on Monday 25 October 2010

8. What steps he plans to take to provide further opportunities for pre-legislative scrutiny of Government legislation; and if he will make a statement. (18993)

We have announced the publication of our four draft Bills in this Session. That is the same as in four of the five Sessions of the previous Parliament. More draft Bills are being prepared and I hope we will have a more impressive total by the end of the Session.

Is not the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill a lesson in how not to legislate? Despite it being a major constitutional change in this country, there has been no pre-legislative scrutiny. As I understand it, the Government are tabling hundreds of Government amendments while it is on the Floor of the House. Should not the Government rethink this, abandon the Bill and bring back one that has been properly thought through?

The hon. Lady is pursuing this argument. Early in the lifetime of a Government, there will, of course, be some Bills that are not available for pre-legislative scrutiny, simply because—apart from anything else—otherwise the House would be sitting here with nothing to do. That is why we have ensured that these important Bills are debated on the Floor of the House, where they can receive the longest possible scrutiny. I hope that, by the completion of all its parliamentary stages, every part of the Bill she mentioned will have been available for scrutiny, if hon. Members wish to pick up any specific points. I simply do not believe that there is an alternative way of doing business. Having said that, our normal practice will be to introduce important Bills in draft, as has been clearly stated. There are more Bills in the pipeline, and she will find that, by the end of the Session, considerably more Bills will have been considered in draft than in the previous Session.