Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Shaw of Northstead: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister. It might be of assurance if one knew who is to appoint the members of this new office and to whom they will report.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I shall write to the noble Lord and give him those details, and I shall put a copy in the Library.

I hope that noble Lords taking part in the debate will see that the Government agree with almost everything in the report. Moreover, negotiations in the Council are also heading very much in the same direction. I hope that I speak for all of your Lordships when I say that I commend the committee's work. It has provided a much needed expert input into the negotiations and was very much appreciated not only by the Government but by many others as well.

We entered this negotiation with the intention of taking another step towards improving the functioning of the Community decision-taking process. The decision that is emerging represents a very successful outcome. It should make comitology both simpler to understand and more transparent and we all hope effective in the way that it works.

5.26 p.m.

Lord Hope of Craighead: My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who have contributed to the debate. I am particularly grateful to the two members of the sub-committee, the noble Lord, Lord Borrie, and the noble Baroness, Lady Elles, for their support. I should also like to echo the words of kindness expressed about the work of the assistant legal adviser, who made a

18 Jun 1999 : Column 642

substantial contribution. I thank, too, the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, and the Minister for their kind words and for the obvious care that they have taken to study this complex and detailed report.

I thank the Minister for bringing us up to date with such encouraging words on the progress that has been made since the date of our report. We are greatly pleased that the report has achieved some success, and her words are much to be welcomed. The noble Lord, Lord Taverne, spoke about some lack of strength in the recommendations about simplification, and the Minister hit the point in her reply. It has all to do with the problem of definition and with the risk that if it is imprecise it may give rise to litigation. When we tried to think of better words to express the various options, we found that the risks were too great and we thought that it was precisely the non-binding quality of the guidance that was crucial. We are, therefore, particularly encouraged by the way in which that problem has been resolved, as it fits exactly with our views.

The noble Lords, Lord Taverne, Lord Shaw of Northstead and Lord Bruce of Donington, have contributed greatly to the debate by drawing on their great experience and providing us with the context against which the report should be read. I was impressed by what the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, said about ensuring that things that should happen do happen. The progress of scrutiny, which occupies much of our reading time, is designed to achieve precisely that. Our powers are not unlimited, but we follow that philosophy as far as we can, and I am glad to draw on his encouragement.

I renew my thanks to all those who have taken part in the debate and who have formed part of the sub-committee, and I commend the Motion to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

        House adjourned at twenty-nine minutes past five o'clock.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page