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Fast Track Legislation

Volume 715: debated on Tuesday 15 December 2009


On 7 July the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution published its report on Fast-track Legislation: Constitutional Implications and Safeguards (HL 116, 2008–09). The government response was published on 7 December (HL 11, 2009–10).

The report recommended that where the Government were proposing expedited legislation they should provide an explanation of why the legislation should be fast-tracked. The Government accept in principle the committee’s recommendation that, for all Bills which are to be passed with unusual expedition, an explanation of the reasons for using a fast-track procedure should be provided.

I am therefore informing the House that any future legislation which will be subject to expedited procedures will contain a full explanation in the accompanying Explanatory Notes to the legislation. The explanation will address the questions set out in paragraph 186 of the committee’s report:

why is fast-tracking necessary?

what is the justification for fast-tracking each element of the Bill?

what efforts have been made to ensure that the amount of time made available for parliamentary scrutiny has been maximised?

to what extent have interested parties and outside groups been given an opportunity to influence the policy proposal?

does the Bill include a sunset clause (as well as any appropriate renewal procedure)? If not, why do the Government judge that their inclusion is not appropriate?

are mechanisms for effective post-legislative scrutiny and review in place? If not, why do the Government judge that their inclusion is not appropriate?

has an assessment been made as to whether existing legislation is sufficient to deal with any or all of the issues in question?

have relevant parliamentary committees been given the opportunity to scrutinise the legislation?

The Video Recordings Bill, which has been introduced in this House today, is the first Bill to be fast-tracked since the committee published its report. The Explanatory Notes to this Bill reflect the new approach.