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Pre-legislative Scrutiny

Volume 570: debated on Thursday 7 November 2013

The Government are committed, wherever possible, to publishing draft legislation for pre-legislative scrutiny. We published 17 draft Bills or sets of draft measures in the last Session, which is more than any other Government in any Session.

Following last week’s announcement of a pause in proceedings on the reviled gagging Bill and the previous pause in the equally reviled Health and Social Care Bill, can the Leader of the House confirm whether this form of legislative coitus interruptus is becoming his preferred form of parliamentary planned parenthood?

Clearly it is not. As I have stated, we have a very good track record with the largest number of Bills in pre-legislative scrutiny of any Government in any Session. In relation to what has happened in the Lords, they wanted more time and that is exactly what the Government have provided.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that pre-legislative scrutiny allows consultation while legislation is more easily amended, and allows politicians and stakeholders to give their opinions? Will he commend the work of the pre-legislative scrutiny Committee, a joint Committee with the House of Lords, on the Deregulation Bill, which I have the honour to serve on?

I will certainly do that. Pre-legislative scrutiny is a very positive opportunity for stakeholders to contribute. As I stated, the Government have been very positive in providing those opportunities to a large number of stakeholders in no fewer than 17 draft Bills.

In the light of the completely unconvincing answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne Central (Chi Onwurah) by the Deputy Leader of the House, will he explain exactly how he plans to make use of this wonderful new parliamentary invention, the pause stage, to respond to widespread concerns about the lack of pre-legislative scrutiny of the provisions in the gagging Bill?

I am not quite sure what the hon. Lady means by “the gagging Bill”. If she is referring to the transparency Bill, she will be aware that the lobbying aspect did have pre-legislative scrutiny, and she should be aware that the Government have responded, for instance, to Select Committee reports on this subject and engaged with a very large number of organisations that have a strong interest in this Bill.