Order of Commitment Discharged
My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Unless, therefore, any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.
My Lords, I wonder whether it would be appropriate for me to ask a question of the noble Earl, and indeed of the Minister. I wonder whether either of them have seen the report—published today, as I understand it—by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, referring to some important aspects of this particular Bill, which of course has been looked at literally only today by that committee, on which I serve. There are aspects that raise the controversial issues of the Henry VIII clause. The Government originally supported the Bill and produced a Memorandum for the Committee about these matters on behalf of the noble Earl and the Bill’s promoters in the other House.
These questions raise important issues about executive expediency. We all recognise that at this stage of a Parliament it is extremely important to complete the business that is before both Houses, but I believe, and I think Members of your Lordships’ House will agree with me, that we should not do it simply for the expediency of the Executive. If there are matters that are of concern to this House about the way in which secondary legislation following from the Bill is to be handled by Parliament, we in this House are duty-bound to ask those questions. It would be wrong, simply because we are faced with an early general election or indeed the end of a Session, simply to fast-track legislation without proper regard to these issues of scrutiny. I am sure the noble Earl would agree with me, as he is a strong protagonist for the responsibilities of this House.
I wonder whether the noble Earl and the Minister will now be in a position to comment on the important qualifications that have been brought forward by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee to your Lordships’ House today on the issue of secondary legislation. It is not immediately apparent why the promoters of the Bill, and indeed the Government, did not use the LRO procedure, which would have been more appropriate. It would have meant that we had proper scrutiny of the secondary legislation that follows from the Bill.
I am sure other Members of your Lordships’ House will agree with me that we should not simply be accelerating procedures for the convenience of the Government. What we should be doing is our duty in terms of proper scrutiny. In that respect, I hope both the noble Earl and the Minister will agree that proper regard should be paid to the committee’s concerns.
My Lords, I am grateful for the intervention from the noble Lord, Lord Tyler. This Bill is not for the benefit of the Government; it is for the benefit of the farriers and updating the law.
I am aware of the report. I have not had time to discuss it with the Minister, but I plan to do so immediately this Motion has been agreed because I think it right and proper that I should do so. Had we had sight of the report earlier, I would have been able to see the Minister before now, and I apologise to the House for not having been able to. However, I shall do so immediately after this.
Bearing in mind that the noble Earl is now looking to an accelerated Committee stage for his Private Member’s Bill, I remind him of the Committee stage of the abolition of by-elections for hereditary Peers Bill at whose Committee stage, where it was supported widely across the House, he and one of his noble colleagues decided to table some 30 amendments in order to prevent the further passage of that Bill. I wonder whether, when I introduce a similar Bill in the next Session of Parliament, he will afford the same courtesy of a rapid passage of the Committee stage to the hereditary Peers abolition of by-elections Bill as appears to be being afforded to him today.