Draft Contracting Out of Functions (Tribunal Staff) Order 2001

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Ms Winterton: With the Committee's permission, if it is agreed that we should adjourn, I will not move the order today. We can then lay a revised order if necessary.

Mr. Cash: That would meet my point. We should not implement the order at this sitting. An opportunity should be taken to review the position, and a substitute order should be produced.

Mr. Burnett: The hon. Gentleman and I feel strongly about the matter. Does he agree that the revised order should come before a Committee such as this in due course?

Mr. Cash: Absolutely. That is implicit in what I say. We will go through the procedures that Parliament prescribes. We must be sure that the order is entirely lawful. It has implications down the line, some of which I have mentioned. We have raised serious concerns, but I shall not repeat myself. I am grateful to the Minister for her decision.

The Chairman: Order. As the order has already been moved, I am obliged to put the question. However, I could see my way to accepting a formal proposal that the Committee be adjourned, pending a further consideration of certain aspects, until a date to be nominated, in the near future. If someone is prepared to move that, I would be able to accept it within the requirements of ``Erskine May'' and the Standing Orders.

Mr. Cash: On a point of order, Mr. Cook. I want to be helpful, but I am not convinced that we should deal with the order by adjourning. The Minister concedes that the order contains a defect. That cannot be resolved merely by adjourning the Committee to reconsider the order. We could deal with the mischief more effectively by withdrawing the order. It would be undesirable if the Government—because of the arithmetic of the numbers of Government and Opposition Members—won the argument once we had divided, and then introduced an order that the Minister has admitted is inherently defective.

It would be better for the Minister to withdraw the order. We would be happy about that—not because we wish to be difficult, but because it would help the Government to formulate their business. We could reconvene as rapidly as possible when another order exists. That would be the more advantageous way of proceeding, although I defer to your judgment, Mr. Cook.

The Chairman: I am so pleased about that. Like the hon.Gentleman, I had the benefit of a Jesuit education, so I have followed his logic throughout. Nevertheless, I could not determine whether he was happy about the order or about the withdrawal of the order—he referred to the withdrawal of the order, which he was happy about.

Leaving aside that dilemma, I advise the Committee that if the order were withdrawn, the Committee would be discharged. It would have to be reconstituted, and we would have to go through the process again. It would be easier to act with expedition and adjourn the sitting to another date. In that case, the same Committee would convene, with its previous dialogues on record. That may not suit the requirements of a Stonyhurst education, but it satisfies my Corby one.

Ms Rosie Winterton: We are not certain that the order is deficient. We have agreed to consider whether it is defective, and will bear in mind the points made by the hon. Gentleman. If we decide that it is defective, we can withdraw it at the adjourned sitting, but if it is in order, we can proceed with it.

Mr. Cash: I go along with that solution. Sections 70 and 71 of the 1994 Act must be considered; I cannot go any further until then. If it is thought better to change the order, I think it fine to withdraw it at the moment that a replacement order, which remedies the mischief, is brought forward. If it is impossible to remedy the order, it should be withdrawn and another brought forward.

The Chairman: Laus deo semper.

Mr. Cash: Deo gratias.

Ms Winterton: I beg to move, That the Committee do now adjourn until Tuesday next at half-past Ten o'clock.

Question put and agreed to.

        Committee rose at fourteen minutes past Eleven o'clock till Tuesday 23 October at half-past Ten o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Cook, Mr. Frank (Chairman)
Bacon, Mr.
Barker, Mr.
Brennan, Kevin
Burnett, Mr.
Burnham, Andy
Cash, Mr.
Cohen, Mr.
Cunningham, Tony
Dhanda, Mr.
Edwards, Mr.
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Lamb, Norman
Lepper, Mr.
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Smith, Angela
Winterton, Ms Rosie

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Prepared 16 October 2001