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Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I cannot allow the hon. Gentleman to continue on that line as it is a Second Reading point. He must confine his remarks to new clause 1, which is in turn confined not to regulations made elsewhere or in the past but to those that could be made under clause 1.

Mr. Paterson: I listened carefully to your strictures to my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) among others, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am trying to be careful to cite two examples that show how new clause 1 could help, as the debate has been general. As I understand it, new clause 1 relates to clause 6(2), which refers to


I am not test to tempt your patience, but I am trying to give a practical example that shows that, by agreeing new clause 1, we would improve existing legislation that is causing trouble.

The NFU said that most mistakes or unintended consequences could not be remedied. New clause 1 would offer a mechanism for remedy. The NFU continued:


If new clause 1 is added to the Bill, that lacuna about which the NFU is concerned could be corrected. The NFU continued:


My hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Mrs. Winterton) picked up on that point.

I am trying to be practical by mentioning a real case. New clause 1 would enable us to improve and review that IPPC legislation and assess the costs to the agriculture

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sector. That point was brought home again to me by a business that wrote to me to make four brief points. The letter reads:


Surely new clause 1 would tackle the worries on that point.

The second point--this falls absolutely within the remit of new clause 1--that is made in the letter is:


Those lines alone justify the new clause. The person running that business is complying with all the current legislation. It is a successful business, but it is having difficulty competing with competitors here and abroad. No one can say what that important legislation will do to the business. The new clause would provide a mechanism, although it might not come in time. My worry is the five-year time limit. Many regulations have an impact within the first couple of years.

The third point that is made in the letter is about the cost of legislation. It states:


That is a substantial cost to a small farm business. New clause 1 would bring transparency to the process. Instead of pushing the legislation through, as happens at present, hoping that business gets on with it, and then reading some worrying stories in the press a few months down the line, we would at least have a chance to rethink. I cannot see how any sane person can oppose that.

We need more business, more enterprises and more activity, especially when there are such problems in agriculture. The problems were bad enough before the foot and mouth outbreak, but they are extreme at the moment. There is a depressed, crushed feeling among many of my constituents, who believe that there is no escape from regulation. They write letters to me; I can speak and vote in the House, but there is no comeback when regulations are passed. New clause 1 would give them hope, although I am concerned about the five-year gap. I should like the review to take place more frequently.

Mr. Steen: Every year.

Mr. Paterson: We should bear in mind the fact that the current directory of European legislation is 1,278 pages long, so the burden of carrying out the review every year would be too great; it would be impractical. However, my hon. Friend is on the right lines because the worry is that much of the new legislation introduced is not properly scrutinised and the consequences are not thought through.

5.15 pm

I should like to cite one more case, but I think that, sadly, my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley) will tell us that new clause 1 will not cover it. It is the very interesting case of a

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regulation. As all hon. Members will know, one of the worries in agriculture in recent years has been the closure of small abattoirs; some of the problems of foot and mouth have been caused by the excessive movement of beasts around the country to large units. The general consensus is that small is good in that sector, yet we have seen the wholesale devastation of the sector, mostly by regulation.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman is now going far too far. I can anticipate the hon. Member for South Cambridgeshire (Mr. Lansley), by saying that new clause 1 applies only to regulations introduced under clause 1. I have allowed the hon. Member for North Shropshire (Mr. Paterson) to cite some illustrative examples, but he has now had his ration of them.

Mr. Paterson: I am making a desperately serious point. The measure that I shall mention will have a dramatic impact on many small businesses.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman understands the ruling that I have given. He has, regrettably, heard me more than once, but the fact is that I have to try to focus the debate on the matter before the House. New clause 1 relates to regulations introduced under clause 1. He cannot talk about any regulation that might exist on the statute book at present. The debate is on whether it would be right to apply new clause 1 to clause 1.

Mr. Paterson: I was about the mention the regulation. I should very much like to know whether new clause 1 would encompass the regulation, but I have not had time to say what it is.

Mr. Lansley: Perhaps I can help my hon. Friend. The Government have already referred to some of the purposes for which they wish to introduce regulatory reform orders. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food wishes to introduce a regulatory reform order to extend the powers of the Meat and Livestock Commission. It is perfectly possible, of course, for a regulatory reform order to be introduced that would not only extend those powers, but impact directly on the Meat Hygiene Service. As my hon. Friend will remember, we have already had experience of the Deregulation and Contracting out Act 1994, which the Bill will replace, being used to reduce some of the regulatory burdens on small abattoirs. So it is clear that the power could be used, if he were to construe it in that way, to reduce regulations in slaughterhouses.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. Hon. Members must not debate the merits of matters that may or may not be subject to regulation in future. The hon. Gentleman must direct his argument to whether the House should agree new clause 1, in so far as it affects clause 1.

Mr. Paterson: I should just like to mention the regulation that I had in mind, because if new clause 1 could affect that regulation, it would be a thoroughly worthwhile addition to the Bill. It is especially pertinent that my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire mentions the Meat Hygiene Service, because I want to mention the Restriction on Pithing

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(England) Regulations 2000, which have been introduced in the past five days under Commission decision 2000/418/EC. This is a most interesting case and it is germane to our debate. The regulation was introduced with well-meaning intentions, but I shall not go into the process of pithing.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman will. I rule him out of order on that, because it is not within the scope of this debate.

Mr. Paterson: I have a final question for my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire. Do regulations from European legislation come under the remit of the new clause?

Mr. Clifton-Brown: Has my hon. Friend considered the difference between a European regulation and a directive? A regulation automatically becomes law when it is passed; a directive has to be incorporated into--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. That has absolutely nothing to do with the debate.

Mr. Paterson: I will not be tempted to discuss the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown), but the debate touches on the impact of regulations on many people trying to run small businesses. I know that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, are trying to set a clear remit for the debate, but I wish to end my remarks by asking my hon. Friend the Member for South Cambridgeshire how regulations would be impacted on by the new clause. Directives are reinterpreted by this Parliament under clause 6(2), so it seems to me that they would be impacted on. That is very welcome. The IPPC, which I mentioned, would appear to come under the review, and my constituents would welcome that.

I am worried that the new clause does not cover regulation; that is the simple point that I wish to make. I would like clarification on that, but I endorse the spirit behind the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Totnes. Five years is probably too long a gap--we would like it to be less--but it is a very good start. Given the appalling burdens that the Government have inflicted on the entrepreneurial classes of this country, the new clause deserves our support because it would begin to try to reverse the ratchet.


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