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Mr. Redwood: I have some sympathy with both sides in this debate. It is absolutely right that items of constitutional significance should not go through the
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accelerated procedure envisaged in the Bill, and I see that the Government have recognised that to some extent and tried to find a solution. On the other hand, the Liberal Democrats have a perfectly good point in that it leaves a lot of discretion in the hands of Ministers, who could be casual about it, and it might not be easy for the House to assert itself given that most Ministers, for most of the time, speak for the majority in the House and would expect it to agree with an idea and see it through. Such items would come to light only if there were a great movement of popular opinion and the Opposition party or parties were able to articulate it well.

My worry about willingly and readily accepting amendment (a) is that the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) seemed to take great delight in the notion of making judges make difficult decisions that should properly be taken in the House of Commons.

Mr. Greg Knight: Does my right hon. Friend agree that under amendment (a) the only involvement of the courts would be to the extent of saying to the Minister, “You’ve used the wrong procedure; this is of significance and should therefore be referred back to Parliament”?

Mr. Redwood: That is right, and it may well bring me down on the side of supporting amendment (a). However, it remains the case that a very important decision that should properly be taken by Parliament would be taken by a court of law in certain extreme cases, which is a bit of a pity.

Andrew Miller: Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that an appropriate check on ministerial abuse should be established within the Standing Orders of the Regulatory Reform Committee, to the effect that it should have a clear and unambiguous duty to determine whether something is an inappropriate use of delegated legislation? Is not that the solution?

Mr. Redwood: The hon. Gentleman has come up with a very good idea. My idea was that the House authorities might like to advise the Chair of the Committee. The Minister might be able to consider a proposition that falls between the two. If we are not to be offered anything like that from the Treasury Bench—and it appears that we are not—I may find myself agreeing with my Front-Bench colleagues, who are minded to support amendment (a) to put a bit of pressure on the Government. However, it would be much better if the Government and the House authorities—perhaps the Leader of the House could bring them together—came up with a solution that gave us more confidence than amendment No. 9 but fell short of the court-driven system proposed by the Liberal Democrats. Ultimately, I would probably prefer to have another check against the Executive, because it is imperative that the accelerated procedure should not be used on constitutional matters.

Mr. Andrew Turner: I have listened with great care to the arguments that have been advanced. Amendment No. 9 is of course welcome, but we must examine whether it is adequate. On amendment (a), rhetoric has been used on both sides of the argument. The
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Government and their supporters allege that this is a battle between Parliament and the judges, while the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath), ably supported by the hon. Member for Cambridge (David Howarth), allege that it is a battle between Parliament and the Executive. Conservative Members must come down on one side or the other, or sit on our hands. I very much agree that where we can delay a decision that is wrongly taken by a Minister, it is appropriate to provide Parliament with that additional weapon. That is how, in a minimalist way, I would describe amendment (a). I would not go so far as the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome in putting all my trust in judges, which is certainly not the policy of Conservative Front Benchers. Unless I hear something better from the Treasury Bench than we have heard so far, I propose to support the amendment.

6 pm

Mr. McFadden: I will endeavour to be brief in summing up the debate on a couple of key issues. First, as the hon. Members for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) and for Cambridge (David Howarth) said, the courts can be involved even without the amendment. I acknowledged that in my opening remarks, but the difference between us is about the grounds. That remains a difference that we cannot accommodate, so we cannot agree to the amendment tonight. One reason was touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Rob Marris), who pointed out that the amendment’s proponents tended to ignore the protections already in the Bill—trial by jury, for example, which could not be abolished because of the necessary protections of rights and freedoms in the Bill.

David Howarth rose—

Mr. McFadden: I really must continue. I believe that in respect of the presentation of the amendment, we have seen a downplaying, if not an ignorance, of the protections in the Bill.

Let me deal with the matter of the ScotlandAct 1998. It was not exempt from the 2001 Act and it has remained for a further five years without any of the constitutional consequences that were mentioned taking place. The UK Government did not say to the Scottish Executive that the Scotland Act 1998 would be exempt—and let me also say that Government Members care deeply about the devolution settlement. We legislated to bring about the devolution settlement— [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart), who suggests that we are imperilling the devolution settlement, is wrong. As I said, we believe in and care about that settlement. It is the hon. Gentleman’s party that puts the devolution settlement and the Scotland Act 1998 under far greater peril than any regulatory reform order ever could. He will stand in an election next year, committed to ripping up the ScotlandAct 1998 and ripping up the United Kingdom. That is one reason why I cannot accept the idea of him as a guardian of the devolution settlement. Government Members, as I said, legislated for it and believe in it, so we will not imperil it through this legislation.

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Lords amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question put, That consequential amendment (a) be made— [Mr. Heath].

The House divided: Ayes 210, Noes 298.
Division No. 343]
[6.03 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Beith, rh Mr. Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Donaldson, Mr. Jeffrey M.
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Johnson, Mr. Boris
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Maclean, rh David
MacNeil, Mr. Angus

Main, Anne
Maples, Mr. John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McCrea, Dr. William
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penrose, John
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rogerson, Mr. Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Salmond, Mr. Alex
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simpson, David
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Wishart, Pete
Wright, Jeremy
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Adrian Sanders and
Jenny Willott

Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul

Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs. Claire
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hanson, Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Healey, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khabra, Mr. Piara S.
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Knight, Jim
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, Dr. Alasdair
McFadden, Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Mr. Tony
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan

Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Christine
Ryan, Joan
Seabeck, Alison
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Vaz, rh Keith
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Waltho, Lynda
Wareing, Mr. Robert N.
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Michael Foster and
Jonathan Shaw
Question accordingly negatived.
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7 Nov 2006 : Column 758

7 Nov 2006 : Column 759

Lords amendments Nos. 10 to 17 agreed to.

Clause 6


Lords amendment: No. 18.

Mr. McFadden: I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): With this we may discuss Lords amendment No. 19.

7 Nov 2006 : Column 760

Mr. McFadden: We mentioned the matters covered by the amendments earlier, so I shall be brief. Clause 6 restricts the powers in clauses 1 and 2. It prevents an order from imposing or increasing taxation. Concerns were raised on Report in the Commons and in Committee in the other place that, unamended, the Bill would leave it open for a Minister, by order, to reduce or remove taxation. As with several other matters that we have discussed, it was not the intention that orders should be used to reduce or remove taxation. Other parliamentary mechanisms have always been in place for dealing with taxation, but amendment No. 18 makes it clear that an order under part 1 cannot be used to impose, abolish or vary any tax.

The second amendment concerns potential tax liabilities that could arise from the merger of regulators. When transferring regulatory functions from one regulator to another, it may be necessary also to make provision in an order to transfer assets and liabilities from the old to the new regulator. In certain circumstances, without further provision, a transfer could result in inappropriate tax consequences for the transferor or transferee body which would arise solely because of the transfer.

Mr. Redwood: If the amendment were carried, would it still be possible under this accelerated procedure to abolish a regulator or a regulatory requirement that might include a fee or licence charge?

Mr. McFadden: I will come back to the right hon. Gentleman on that matter.

The amendment addresses the unwanted consequences that might arise from the transfers that I have just described. It will allow the Treasury to make tax provision by regulations in relation to a transfer of property, rights and liabilities under an order under part 1. This power will enable the Treasury to make appropriate tax provision at the appropriate time to ensure that a transfer does not give rise to a tax charge, or confer a tax advantage, on either party. It is unlikely that the powers will be used often; they will be used only in the unusual instance that a merger is being pursued by order which involves the transfer of such property, right and liabilities. I hope that the House will agree to the Lords amendment.

Mr. Heath: I welcome Lords amendment No. 18. It makes precisely the point that we made in Committee. I apologise to the House for the repetitive nature of these exchanges, but we have to keep saying to the Government, “We told you so.” We did make a point about this matter in Committee. It was also made very forcefully on Report by the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), when he said that taxes could go down as well as up—although that does not happen often—and that this provision was therefore necessary.

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