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Legislation: Textual Amendment

Volume 417: debated on Wednesday 18 February 1981

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2.57 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the will instruct parliamentary counsel that Statutes in Force and recently consolidated legislation should be amended by the textual method as envisaged and recommended by the Committee on the Preparation of Legislation (Cmnd. 6053) in paragraphs 13.23 and 13.24 of their report.

My Lords, partly as a result of the report by the committee chaired by my noble friend, textual amendment has become the prevailing practice, not merely in recently consolidated legislation, but generally, and the Government accept and encourage this attitude, Nevertheless, in the last resort the matter is one for the discretion of parliamentary counsel and in the view of the Government a formal instruction would be inappropriate.

My Lords, I thank my noble and learned friend for that mainly encouraging reply. Nevertheless, may I again take the liberty of reminding him that there are occasions when parliamentary counsel are not infallible, and that it would be far better if it were made abundantly plain that there is scarcely ever any occasion which justifies the use of the non-textual method.

My Lords, I think it is possible that none of us is infallible, but it is likely that parliamentary counsel know their own business better than I do.