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'( ) The consent of the Secretary of State for the purposes of subsection (3)(b) may be given either generally or in relation to any one or more specified authorities or descriptions of authority or in relation to particular cases or descriptions of case.'
110

Before Clause 138, insert the following new clause--

Existing housing grants: meaning of exempt disposal

'.--(1) Section 124 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (relevant and exempt disposals for purposes of housing grants) is amended as follows.
(2) In subsection (3) (exempt disposals), for paragraph (c) substitute--
"(c) a disposal of the whole of the dwelling in pursuance of any such order as is mentioned in subsection (4A) below;".
(3) After subsection (4) insert--
"(4A) The orders referred to in subsection (3)(c) above are orders under--
(a) section 24 or 24A of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (property adjustment orders or orders for the sale of property in connection with matrimonial proceedings),
(b) section 2 of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (orders as to financial provision to be made from estate),

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(c) section 17 of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 (property adjustment orders or orders for the sale of property after overseas divorce, &c.), or
(d) paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to the Children Act 1989 (orders for financial relief against parents);".'.
111

Clause 142, page 83, line 3, at end insert '103(1C),'.


112

Page 83, line 4, leave out 'and 105(4)' and insert ', 105(4) and 113(5)'.


113

Clause 144, page 83, line 19, after 'sections' insert '(Existing housing grants: meaning of exempt disposal),'.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 107 to 113.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 107 to 113.--(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

114

Clause 146, page 83, leave out lines 41 and 42 and insert--


'(1) The following provisions of this Act come into force on Royal Assent--
(a) section 142 (orders, regulations and directions),
(b) sections 144 to 147 (extent, commencement and other general provisions).'.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 114. At the same time, I should like to speak to Amendments Nos. 117 to 125 and Amendment No. 129. Amendments Nos. 114 and 117 correct a drafting oversight. They provide for the powers in Clause 142, which enable different provisions to be made in different cases for the orders, regulations or directions to be brought into force, as is becoming usual practice, on Royal Assent. Amendment No. 118 removes the words which your Lordships inserted in the normal way at Third Reading to avoid questions of financial privilege. The other amendments adjust certain consequential amendments in Schedule 1 and one of the repeals in Schedule 3 relating to Part I of the Bill.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 114.--(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

115

Clause 146, page 84, line 3, leave out '127' and insert '(Regeneration and development: Welsh Development Agency)'.


116

Page 84, line 4, at end insert--


'section (Existing housing grants: meaning of exempt disposal) (existing housing grants: meaning of exempt disposal),'.
117

Page 84, leave out lines 7 and 8


118

Clause 147, page 84, leave out lines 19 to 22.


119

Schedule 1, page 85, line 19, after 'substitute' insert 'section 523 of the Housing Act 1985 (assistance for provision of separate service pipe for water supply) or'.


120

Page 85, line 23, after 'substitute' insert 'section 523 of the Housing Act 1985 (assistance for provision of separate service pipe for water supply) or'.


121

Page 86, leave out lines 14 and 15 and insert 'In section 535(1)(a) of the Housing Act 1985 (exclusion of assistance under Part XV of that Act where grant application pending

23 Jul 1996 : Column 1356

or approved), for the words from "an improvement grant" to "Part XV" substitute'.


122

Page 86, line 26, after 'substitute' insert 'section 523 of the Housing Act 1985 (assistance for provision of separate service pipe for water supply) or'.


123

Page 86, line 39, after 'substitute' insert 'section 523 of the Housing Act 1985 (assistance for provision of separate service pipe for water supply) or'.


124

Page 86, line 43, leave out from 'subsection' to 'of' and insert '(5B) for "Part VIII of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989" substitute "Chapter II'.


125

Page 87, line 12, leave out from 'substitute' to end of line 13 and insert 'or under section 12 or 27 of the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (renovation grants or HMO grants: purposes)".'.


126

Schedule 2, page 91, line 47, leave out 'from "by the removal" to "against the removal or determination,"' and insert '"by the removal" onwards'.


127

Page 92, line 9, at end insert '; and on an appeal under this section the Court may make any order which appears appropriate, and no appeal shall lie from any decision of the Court on such an appeal.".'.


128

Page 94, line 48, after 'or' insert 'serious'.


129

Schedule 3, page 96, line 25, after '30' insert ', the words "The Local Government and Housing Act 1989 section 138(1)".'.


130

Page 97, line 12, column 3, leave out 'the words from "and to" to "therefor" and'.


131

Page 97, line 18, at end insert--


'1977 c. 45.Criminal Law Act 1977.In Schedule 6, the entry relating to the Architects Registration Act 1938.'.

132

Page 97, line 21, at end insert--


'1995 c. 40.Criminal Procedure (Consequential Provisions) (Scotland) Act 1995.In Schedule 2, in Part II, the entry relating to the Architects Registration Act 1938.'.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 115 to 132 en bloc.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 115 to 132.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Statutory Instruments

(Production and Sale) Bill

6.40 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.--(Earl Howe.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Lord Dean of Harptree) in the Chair.]

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Clause 1 [Instruments etc. produced and sold under authority]:

Lord Graham of Edmonton: Perhaps the Committee will allow me to point out that there has been a slight delay. However, I believe the Deputy Chairman can now call upon the noble Lord, Lord McNally.

Lord McNally moved the amendment:


Page 1, line 5, leave out ("and be taken always to have had effect").

The noble Lord said: I thank the Labour Chief Whip for that intervention and also make the claim for a new sprint record down the Royal Gallery. The amendment is important. I draw the Committee's attention to the Order Paper. Alongside "Statutory Instruments (Production and Sale) Bill--Committee", we see a little squiggle. As a new boy to this Chamber. I looked up what the "squiggle" means. It indicates Bills set down before the expiry of the recommended minimum interval between stages.

I would have thought that the first thing the Minister should explain in responding to my amendment, and indeed to the Committee, is why the Bill needs to be speeded through in this way. As I understand the position, although it is related to the HMSO privatisation, it has been clarified firmly in the other place that there is not a direct consequential link between the two pieces of legislation. This legislation is not required to privatise HMSO and, even if it were, that would not be justification for dealing with the measure in this way. Why are we being asked to rush through a piece of retrospective legislation which covers a period of over 50 years? It is a serious point.

I want to make clear to the Minister why we on these Benches tabled the amendment. Sometimes amendments are tabled as probing amendments; sometimes they are tabled as helpful, constructive amendments; but sometimes amendments are tabled to draw a line in the sand and to make clear to the Executive that it cannot ride roughshod over the rights of Parliament.

There is a suspicion on these Benches that too often, particularly in recent weeks, the Government have been rushing things through this Chamber. They have been acting in a high-handed manner and behaving in some respects as though they almost believe that they have less than 200 days left to do anything. That is a recipe for bad government and bad legislation.

We on these Benches say most clearly that whichever party occupies the Government Benches, we will insist that proper procedures are carried through when legislation comes before this Chamber, not simply to employ the usual tactics of delay, but particularly because in cases such as when the Government wish to move a public asset into the private sector, expensive errors of judgment can be made and it is the duty of Parliament to check and check again.

A point made in the debate in the other place was that the Government have known of this need for retrospective legislation for well over one year when they first trawled through the implications of the privatisation of HMSO. Again, there is a massive

23 Jul 1996 : Column 1358

question mark as to why, if that was known over one year ago, the legislation must come before this Chamber in this curious manner.

Our amendment is intended to question the whole status of retrospective legislation. We shall be interested to know what caused the Government to see the need. Was there a legal challenge or potential legal challenge? It will be interesting to know whether the Government now feel, since they are under such self-imposed haste and pressure, that that is the end of the matter or whether other anomalies exist that will need to be unpicked. That is the danger of the way in which the Government are going about their business at the present time.

Our debate on Thursday, the last day of this Session, in relation to privatisation of recruitment into the Civil Service, is another example. Even though the Government may feel that they are in their death throes and that their role now is to rifle through the till to see whether there are any trinkets left to be hocked, it is the duty of the Opposition to dig in our heels and stop the Government behaving in that way--riding roughshod over Parliament. We would like to make clear that the Third Reading of this Bill will take place after the Recess. We on these Benches want to consider the implications of the Committee stage. We may wish to table further amendments at Third Reading.

It was interesting to read the debate in the other place. One intervention in particular caught my eye. It was made by the honourable Member for South Hams Mr. Anthony Steen, a Member of the Government Benches. He threw up the interesting fact that we have dealt with over 8,000 statutory instruments in the past two years. Mr. Steen gave what I felt was a profound gypsy's warning to all parliamentarians concerned with the duties and responsibilities of this House and the other place. He said,


    "There is a danger that we will pass more and more statutory instruments and find a new device for getting them printed in new and more exciting places, without tackling the issue".--[Official Report, Commons, 3/7/96; col. 1000.]
It is because the Government are not tackling the issues that we propose this amendment today. It is because the Government seem to be adopting a cavalier attitude to national assets and for the way in which Parliament carries out its responsibilities that we strongly advocate that the Committee support the amendment. I beg to move.


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