Select Committee on Procedure First Report


Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations in the Procedure Committee's Fourth Report of Session 1995-96, Delegated Legislation (HC 152)

(a)We consider that there is too great a readiness on the part of Parliament to delegate legislative powers to Ministers in primary legislation. It has nonetheless to be accepted that this practice has advantages for Government and is bound to continue. So the House will continue to have to consider a vast volume of delegated legislation, which needs to be, and to be seen to be, properly scrutinised (paras.14-15).
(b)We accept the continuation of the division of instruments into affirmative and negative, but consider that a more radical categorisation will be necessary if the proposals we make prove ineffective (para.8).
(c)We propose a new category of "super-affirmative" instruments for future legislation, whereby proposals for draft Orders would be laid for pre-legislative scrutiny (para.9).
(d)We recommend the extension of the 40 day "praying time" to 60 days (para.18).
(e)We recommend that there should be a Standing Order providing that no decision on a statutory instrument should be made by the House until completion of its consideration by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (para.20).
(f)We recommend that serious consideration be given by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments as to whether its terms of reference should be amended to exclude consideration of instruments not subject to Parliamentary proceedings (para.21).
(g)We recommend that the detailed Memorandum prepared on each instrument by Departments be made available to all Members on request (para.16).
(h)We recommend that the Government consider how best to identify for Members instruments laid under the European Communities Act 1972, whether by colour-coding or otherwise (para.17).
(i)We recommend that debates on negative instruments be arranged before the expiry of praying time (para.36).
(j)We recommend repeal of the 11.30 cut-off on debates on negative instruments held on the Floor of the House enshrined in Standing Order No.15 (para.42).
(k)We recommend that reference of a negative instrument to Committee be permitted to be moved by a Member where a Prayer against it has been signed by at least 20 Members; and that the question be decided on a simple majority rather than open to decisive objection by 20 Members as at present (para.27).
(l)We recommend the establishment of a Sifting Committee to determine which negative instruments merit debate, with the power to move reference of such instruments to Committee (para.33).
(m)We recommend that minor affirmative instruments of broadly similar subject matter be grouped together for sequential debate, and that Ministers be given the power to make Motions in such Committees although not members of the Committee (para.40).
(n)We recommend that the proposed Sifting Committee be empowered to identify those affirmative instruments which it considers do not require debate, and that the question on them be put forthwith after the elapse of an appropriate interval, unless at least 6 Members have given notice of their desire to debate the instrument (para.41).
(o)We recommend that debate in Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation last up to two and a half hours (para.44).
(p)We recommend that proceedings in Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation begin with a statement and questions (para.45).
(q)We recommend that the Chairman of a Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation be empowered to limit backbench speeches to 10 minutes (para.46).
(r)We recommend that debate on instruments in Standing Committee be on a substantive motion (para.50).
(s)We recommend that motions on instruments be open to specified classes of amendment, including reasoned amendments and conditional amendments (paras.52-53).
(t)We recommend that, where a Committee has recommended annulment of an instrument, or approval subject to conditions, or where the motion to recommend approval has been defeated, there be up to one hour's further debate on the Floor (para.54).

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