|Health and Social Care
Mr. Denham: I beg to move amendment No. 342, in page 55, line 14, after `14(5)' insert
The Chairman: With this it will be convenient to take the following:
Government amendments Nos. 343 to 346.
Government new clause 20--Supplementary and consequential provision etc.
Mr. Denham: New clause 20 enables the Secretary of State to make by regulations such supplementary, incidental, consequential, transitory, transitional or saving provisions as necessary to give full effect to the Bill. That includes a power to amend or repeal any enactment, instrument or document. The Secretary of State may make such regulations only for the purposes of, in consequence of, or to give full effect to any provision of the Bill.
The power is also available to the devolved Administrations in relation to devolved matters, and will come into force on Royal Assent. When the Secretary of State exercises the power, the negative procedure will apply. That is also the case in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The standard procedure adopted by the National Assembly for Wales will be used in Wales.
Amendments Nos. 343, 344, 345 and 346 simply make consequential provisions to include references to the new clause.
Mr. Philip Hammond (Runnymede and Weybridge): This is where the Bill really starts to get interesting. I know that the Minister was looking forward to this moment. I would like to probe a little on new clause 20. Although I understand that its provisions may not be terribly unusual
Mr. Denham: No, they are not.
Mr. Hammond: The Minister says they are not, so why were they tabled in this way? Why were they not in the original Bill? Clause 63, which is not unusual either, already deals with minor and consequential amendments and repeals. Something has happened to make the Government decide that their drafting of the legislation is so sloppy that they need to add a catch-all clause at this late hour to allow them to deal with all the errors and omissions.
The Minister may tell us that the new clause was needed because of the amendments that he has tabled to schedule 4. I do not want to foreshadow the interesting debate that we shall have on that schedule, but those amendments refer to at least four completely new statutes that are not mentioned in the schedule as it appears in the Bill. As the draftsmen went through the Bill a second and third time, they must have found that they had missed more and more consequential provisions.
The Minister now seems to be saying to the Committee that, on drafting the Bill, he and his colleagues put some of the statutes into the list of those affected by the Bill in schedule 4, but found that they had missed a few out and so have tabled amendments Nos. 352, 348, 351 and 354 to add new statutes to schedule 4. Now they have read the Bill again and cannot guarantee their level of competence, they want a catch-all power to amend any other legislation if they find that they have missed something else out.
I look forward to hearing what has happened since the publication of the Bill to lead the Government to conclude that the drafting is so deficient and sloppy[Interruption.] I hope that the Minister will read that outthat he needs the catch-all new clause 20.
Mr. Denham: On these occasions, Ministers are passed advice that is sometimes helpful, and sometimes not so helpful. When a Committee's deliberations on a Bill come to an end I always feel rather like the car driverindeed I am that sort of car driverwho, while able to drive the car cannot explain in complete detail what happens under the bonnet. We are reliant to a degree on parliamentary counsel in such matters.
The hon. Gentleman is right to point out that the clause is appropriate for such a complex Bill, with its cross-cutting measures, so that consequential issues that arise can be dealt with, although I do not agree with his comments about how the Bill has been drafted. He did not advance any substantive reason for not voting for new clause 20.
Mr. Desmond Swayne (New Forest, West): I wonder whether the catch-all clause has anything to do with the fact that the Department has had a much shorter time than usual in which to table amendments. It has not been unforthcoming with amendments, but with a longer time it could have tabled many more.
Mr. Denham: We seem to have plenty of time for speeches like that, so I do not see that pressure on the Committee has been overwhelming.
Mr. Hammond: As we have some time, I should point out that the Minister's answer to my hon. Friend was a little too glib. My hon. Friend was drawing attention to the important point that if the programme for a Bill is too rushed, with the shortest possible gap between Second Reading and the commencement of Committee proceedingsin this case it was less than a weekand if there is also less than a week between the end of Committee proceedings and Report, the Government are bound to have insufficient time to deal with all the issues that have arisen and to consult outside bodies about the potential consequences of matters that have been raised. They will not have time to check and recheck their drafting and the detailed consequential amendments that are needed. My hon. Friend makes a good point in suggesting that that must be a factor in the need for the new clause.
The Minister has not told us why the material in the new clause was not seen to be necessary at the outset. The tabling of the new clause tells me that something has happened during the past six or seven weeks, since the publication of the Bill, to give rise to the concern that the Government may need wider discretionary powers in the form presented in new clause 20. I hoped that the Minister will be able to tell us what that something was.
Mr. Denham: Only in the most general terms. The Committee will be aware that, for reasons that we explained at the time, given that we are legislating for measures in the NHS plan, which was published only last July, we tabled a substantial number of amendments to the Bill's provisions on lists, for example. I believe that the clause is a consequence of, among other things, the measures that were presented after the publication of the Bill.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment made: No. 343, in page 55, line 29, at end insert
Clause 61, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
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