Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Thirty-Seventh Report



15. We meet regularly when Parliament is sitting, according to the legislative workload. This session we have met more often than ever before - 29 times - and agreed 37 reports - more than in any previous session.[16] As was the case last session, most of the Committee's work was on Bills rather than on Deregulation Orders. A table outlining the work of the Committee during the last five sessions is printed as Annex 1 to this report.

16. Because the Committee is involved in legislative work, its reports have to be produced very quickly - much more so than for most other Select Committee reports. Our reports, including the evidence section, are prepared for the printer as camera-ready copy, and are usually published both in paper and electronically the day after the Committee meets. To facilitate this speedy publication, most Government Departments now submit their memoranda by e-mail. We believe that this use of IT benefits the House, because our reports can be published more quickly than would otherwise be the case, and the taxpayer, because camera-ready copy costs less to print.

17. There are times - particularly when the Committee has been asked to report on Government amendments - when next day publication is not quick enough. On these occasions it is our usual practice to make typescript or e-mail copies of the relevant report available to the Minister and front bench spokesmen.[17] If necessary, typescript copies are also made available in the Printed Paper Office.

18. In our report on the Football (Disorder) Bill this session we noted that it was undergoing a particularly speedy passage through both Houses of Parliament. The bill arrived from the Commons on 18 July, less than 24 hours before we were due to consider it, and only two days before its Second Reading in the Lords. In our report on the bill[18] we said that the exercise of delegated powers in bills which are rushed through Parliament should, as a general rule, be subject to enhanced Parliamentary scrutiny, precisely because Parliament has had comparatively little time to consider the initial grant of those powers. We suggest that this approach is sound in principle.


19. We do not often take oral evidence. Most of our evidence takes the form of written submissions, and the majority of these are now submitted by e-mail. Oral evidence inevitably takes up more time, and also costs money, as the expense of the shorthand writers[19] and printing of the evidence has to be allowed for. But occasionally we have considered oral evidence to be justified, and have found that carefully targeted questioning has borne fruit.

20. This session we have considered a large number of difficult provisions, and have found it necessary to hear oral evidence on five occasions:

  • February 2000, on the Electronic Communications Bill (from the Department of Trade and Industry);
  • March 2000, on the proposal for the draft Deregulation (Sunday Dancing and Licensing) Order 2000 (from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea[20] and the Home Office);
  • May 2000, on the Draft Regulatory Reform Bill (from Lord Falconer of Thoroton, Minister of State, Cabinet Office);
  • June 2000, on the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill (from the Home Office);
  • October 2000, on the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Bill (from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions).

21. When we heard evidence on the Sunday Dancing and Licensing proposal we invited the witnesses from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, who had misgivings about the proposal, and those from the Home Office, who were supporting the proposal, to sit at the witness table at the same time. This proved invaluable in enabling both sets of witnesses to hear what each other was saying and respond as appropriate. We also received a large number of written submissions, including many from representatives of the industry.

16   Our previous record was the 34 reports which we produced in the exceptionally long 1997-98 session. The increased number of reports over a shorter period demonstrates our increased workload this session. Back

17   Typescript publication is often needed for our reports on Northern Ireland Bills, including our 4th report of this session, HL Paper 29. Back

18   26th report 1999-2000, HL Paper 96. Back

19   The Committee wishes to pay tribute to the excellent service it has always enjoyed from the official shorthand writers, who have repeatedly managed to e-mail the transcript of evidence to the Committee on the same day as the evidence was heard, thereby greatly facilitating the Committee's work. Back

20   Baroness Hanham gave oral evidence as Leader of the Council. Back

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