Select Committee on Food Standards First Report



VIII FUTURE PROGRESS OF THE BILL

94. It is clear that, depending on the outcome of the public consultation and Government reaction to this Report, it is currently intended that the Bill be introduced formally shortly after the Easter recess.[151] The expectation is then that the Bill will become law before the end of the Session.[152] As for the passage of the Bill through the House, the Minister for Food Safety in evidence to us claimed that "there would be no attempt to rush" the Bill through Parliament, but also added that "the present timetable is very restricted",[153] and that the Government is "intent on legislating as soon as possible".[154] It is clear that the Government will be keen for proceedings to be taken with some sort of expedition, mindful of the need for the Bill to become law before the end of the Session.

95. Given that we undertook at our first meeting not to debate the principle of the Agency, and given that the proposed Agency will be a very important body whose establishment all Members of the House should have the opportunity to debate, we believe the Bill must receive a full and proper second reading debate. Moreover, we expect that before any second reading debate, the Government will reply to this report in the same way in which it is required to reply to other select committee reports. It is however possible that the wide parliamentary and general public consultation on the draft Bill might permit a shortening of standing committee stage. The Report of the Modernisation Committee refers to pre-legislative scrutiny influencing the Chairmen's (and the Speaker's) selection of amendments,[155] and we would certainly be in favour of that selection reflecting the fact the Bill has been produced following long and extensive consultation. We would not however like to see the progress of the Bill so expedited as to preclude any detailed deliberation on its scope or provisions.

96. It will be in the interests of the House for the explanatory notes accompanying the Bill when finally introduced to specify in some detail what changes have been made to the Bill since its publication in draft. This information could perhaps also usefully be set out in the Government's reply to our Report.


151  Q.1. Back
152  QQ. 3-5. Back
153  Q.1. Back
154  Q.2. Back
155  First Report from the Modernisation Committee, The Legislative Process, Session 1997-98, HC 190, para 2. Back

 
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