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Pre-legislative Scrutiny

Volume 567: debated on Thursday 12 September 2013

The Government are committed, wherever possible, to publishing legislation in draft for pre-legislative scrutiny. We have a good record. We published 17 draft Bills or sets of draft measures in the last Session, which is more than the previous Government did in any Session. I am sure the hon. Lady would be aware that, before the summer recess, the Government published substantive draft Bills on deregulation and consumer rights and will publish further measures as the Session progresses.

I am disappointed that the Leader of the House did not respond to that question because of his experience with the NHS Bill, which did not have pre-legislative scrutiny and had quite a torrid time in Parliament. Has any thought been given to why the lobbying Bill did not receive pre-legislative scrutiny, particularly considering that the Government’s legislative timetable is so light?

Clearly, the Government’s legislative programme is not light, as the hon. Lady suggests it is; in fact, it is very full. As for the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill, there was pre-legislative scrutiny in respect of the lobbying proposals, although it is correct that such scrutiny was not possible for the other aspects of the Bill. As I have stated—[Interruption.] I am sure that the hon. Lady would like to hear that we published 15 Bills in draft in the 2012-13 Session—more than in any previous Session by any Government.

Has the Deputy Leader of the House given consideration to one of the largest Bills this House has ever seen, which is due to hit it in December? I refer to the at least 50,000 pages that will accompany the High Speed 2 Bill. Will the right hon. Gentleman join me in pressing the Department for Transport to allow us not only to look at some of these papers in advance, but to have pre-legislative scrutiny of this Bill, which is going to be gargantuan?

I do not know whether the right hon. Lady was able to ask that question earlier in Transport questions. Having previously been a Transport spokesman and having been involved in a number of Transport Bills, such as the Crossrail Bill, I am absolutely certain that there will be extensive opportunities for people to debate these matters.