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The noble Baroness said: I shall be as quick as I can for this, the last gasp. These amendments are important in principle and I should appreciate a moment of the Minister's time to explain my reasoning.
Amendment No. 144 would include directions on matters that would have to be exercised by statutory instrument. The Secretary of State has significant scope for issuing directions under the Bill as drafted. Directions are not subject to any kind of parliamentary scrutiny, as we discussed earlier. Amendment No. 144 would impose a degree of control and ensure that any directions given have passed under the watchful eye of Parliament. This is not intended to cause trouble. One would hope that, in most cases, the process will be straightforward and the directions laid before Parliament and summarily approvedmerely a matter of procedure rather than anything else. It is important to have safeguards, especially when it is unclear how the directions for referendums will work.
Amendments Nos. 145 and 146 are probing amendments. Amendment No. 145 challenges the flexibility that Clause 27(3) provides. This subsection contains a limited Henry VIII power to make consequential, incidental, supplementary, repealing or revoking enactments. The Minister may argue that this approach was used in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, but we would like to hear from him why this subsection is deemed necessary. It appears to allow a greater freedom to the Secretary of State than is perhaps advisable.
Amendment No. 146 relates to the "hybridity" mentioned in subsection (4). The relation between orders made under Part 1 of the Bill and those made under Section 129(1) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, the resulting hybridity and the practical effect of subsection (4) are perhaps obvious to the Minister but they are not quite so clear to me. I would welcome a final bit of illumination for this evening. I beg to move.
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: Amendment No. 144 would mean that any direction-making powers under this Bill, including those to amend or revoke directions, would have to be exercised by statutory instrument. The basic direction-making powers under the Bill are the power to direct the Boundary
Of course, under Clause 15, the Secretary of State can only implement the recommendations of the Boundary Committee by order. And that order-making power would, under Clause 27, only be exercisable by statutory instrument subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. A similar situation applies to directions given to the Electoral Commission under Part 3 of this Bill. We would not be able to act on its advice regarding electoral matters until the Bill enabling elected regional assemblies to be established is enacted. And that subsequent legislation would, of course, be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny. When the Delegated Powers Committee scrutinised the Bill last month it raised no objections to the existing provisions in this area. In the light of that explanation I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw Amendment No. 144.
I now turn to Amendment No. 145, which seeks to remove subsection (3) from Clause 27. Clause 27(3) enables an order or regulations to contain such consequential, incidental, supplementary or transitional provision or savings as the person making the order or regulations thinks appropriate. The wording used is similar to that found in Section 156(5) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 and loosely follows the approach in Part 2 of the Local Government Act 1992. I can assure the Committee that there is nothing sinister about this provision.
A number of consequential amendments to other Acts to take account of the existence of a Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Act 2003 are set out in the schedule to Clause 15. However, the nature and extent of some other consequential or supplementary requirements, including the necessary legislative amendments, may not become apparent until after the Bill is enacted. For example, it is not possible to foresee, ahead of receiving recommendations from local government reviews, what changes to legislation may be necessary to give effect to recommendations and orders for local government reorganisation. And of course any such provision would be subject to parliamentary scrutiny under the affirmative resolution procedure by virtue of Clause 27(2). All of this was made clear to the Delegated Powers Committee last month. It raised no objections to this
I now turn to Amendment No. 146. This amendment seeks to delete subsection (5)(c) of Clause 27. This amendment would mean that if an order made under Section 129(1) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 for the purposes of our referendums were hybrid, it would be subject to the procedure for making hybrid instruments. As the Committee is aware, the hybrid procedure is complex and time-consuming. I believe that it would not be justified in this instance. Let me explain. We intend to apply the same provisions to all referendums on establishing a regional assembly, subject to the possibility of general change over time as new voting methods are established.
That might seem to indicate that applying subsection (4) to conduct orders is unnecessary because hybridityby definitioncould occur only if we had at least one order making different provisions for different regions.
However, this subsection is needed for certainty reasons. Regional referendums will not all take place at the same time. It may be several years before some regions become interested in a referendum. We cannot predict what a conduct order might look like in five or 10 years' time or how parliamentary conventions and other circumstances might have changed.
The question of hybridity is a difficult one to judge. I have explained the circumstances in which it could arise within the context of this Bill. I hope that Members of the Committee now see that there is nothing sinister in our intent, but rather that we are seeking practical measures to tackle issues that may arise some way in the future. That was made clear to the Delegated Powers Committee last month, and it raised no objection to the provision either.
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