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Select Committee on Public Administration Third Report


3  Conclusion

19. The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill itself provides a striking example of the advantages of the existing legislative procedure. The underlying intentions of the Bill are widely, even universally, supported. Even so, those concerned within Parliament saw its significance from the outset. Members of the Liaison Committee made informal approaches to the Leader of the House; and many Members raised serious concerns at second reading. Parliament's relevant committees have reported in robust terms. Outside Parliament, it has taken some time for commentators to realise the significance of this measure, although it is now attracting a great deal of attention. The orderly staging of the legislative process has given time for Members to raise concerns properly, and to engage with the Government. The Report stage will allow individual Members to put forward amendments. The Bill will be subject to further scrutiny in the House of Lords, when the debate is likely to be developed further.

20. We accept that the current legislative process can be too cumbersome for uncontroversial improvements and simplifications of existing law. That is why we support this Bill. But there has been too much emphasis on reducing the relatively light constraints of Parliamentary procedures, and too little on tackling the culture which gives politicians and civil servants little incentive to put effort into preparing a Regulatory Reform Order, or bringing forward a Law Commission Bill. It is troubling that it is believed to be easier to bring forward changes to the way in which Parliament makes law, than it is to tackle blockages within Whitehall. As currently drafted, the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill gives the Government powers which are entirely disproportionate to its stated aims. The Government has undertaken to amend it, and it must do so, to ensure that by the time it leaves this House it provides adequate safeguards against the misuse of the order making powers it contains.


 
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Prepared 25 April 2006