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Lord Filkin: My Lords, I was signalling that we were not in favour of an annual report. These measures could be on the statute book for the next 30 or 40 years. An annual report on something that is obviously working would be a waste of time and public money. I have gone further than I originally intended. Although we will perhaps not give a full report, as there are some operational matters that one cannot fully go in to, I will seek an adequate report after the first 12 months of operation. I was going further than that. If it was felt that it was still early days at the end of the first 12 months, or there had been an insufficient number of cases to have a settled view, I would ensure that the Home Office and respective other bodies provided a further report. In other words this would

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ensure that the House would have an opportunity to see how the measures were operating after the early settling-in period had been completed.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I am grateful for the support given by my noble friends Lord Renton and Lady Carnegy of Lour. They are correct to call this matter a novel procedure. I am grateful for what the Minister said in response to this amendment, and the assurances that he has put on the record. I will not be pressing this amendment. He is right to say that I was trying to obtain those kind of assurances. I am grateful to him for offering to put a summary report before the House at the end of the year's operation. I am particularly grateful to him for thinking beyond that. If that period did not conclusively show whether these new powers were working satisfactorily, then he would consider a later report so that there could be a better sample of cases.

I should refer to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis. He has said before that Written and Starred Questions could be relied on, instead of annual reports. I stress that I am a fervent user of both methods when appropriate. However, I am aware of their limitations. When I was responding for the Opposition on matters relating to the Dome, I recall having one hit when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, answered a Written Question, which he subsequently found was not correct. He came to the House to apologise. There were many other occasions when we simply did not get answers. For example, the Department of Health has refused to answer a Written Question asking specifically which hospitals still have mixed sex wards. So I support the proper use of Written and Starred Questions, but they have their limitations.

However, I do not need to press this amendment, because the Minister has given a much fairer and better resolution to the issue of obtaining information than having to have an annual report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 8 not moved.]

6.15 p.m.

Clause 92 [Supplementary and consequential provision]:

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 9:

    Page 61, line 36, at end insert—

"(9) Subject to subsection (10) this section shall cease to have effect at the expiry of three years, starting with the date that the Act is given Royal Assent.
(10) Subsection (9) shall not apply if, before the expiry of the three years, the Secretary of State provides by order made by statutory instrument that the section shall continue in force.
(11) An order may not be made under subsection (10) unless a draft of the order has first been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament."

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The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this is a sunset provision for Clause 92, which gives the Government the opportunity to amend or repeal primary legislation by statutory instrument, either with or without parliamentary scrutiny.

We have had some debate on these matters at earlier stages, but this is the first time they have been debated in this particular form. I wish to make it clear right from the beginning that I have decided it would not be appropriate to press this amendment. I wish to use Third Reading to obtain further clarification. There may be other Bills upon which I wish to press such an amendment. As the Minister knows, I have no liking for Henry VIII clauses. That is despite the fact that he will remind me that when my party was in office, on very rare occasions it used them. However, they are like a gathering storm at the moment in the hands of this Government. We are seeing them far too frequently. I note with great approbation that the next Bill to be handled by the Minister, the Extradition Bill, has not yet fallen foul of such a clause—I am relieved to say.

What further clarification do I require to this Henry VIII clause? It relates to a response made by the Minister at our last stage—and in Grand Committee. On Report, at column 691 of Hansard of 3rd March he said that the Government would not want a sunset clause on the Henry VIII powers on every Bill. I agree with the Government on that. I do not think that every Henry VIII clause is so abhorrent that a sunset clause should be added to it. Some of them are.

The Minister also said at column 691 that the Government would continue on their present course of putting Henry VIII clauses into Bills, until the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee objected in a particular case. If the Minister's argument was taken to its extreme, it would be that nobody should table an amendment unless it was first proposed by that committee. I invite the Minister to rebut that, and say that he was perhaps only thinking of extreme circumstances where he would want that committee to propose an amendment first. Although we take extremely seriously what the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee says—it is a strong guide to us on specific powers—we can think of a whole raft of amendments which would not be considered first by the committee. Even if they were, and the committee decided that it would not be proper to recommend the House to object to something that the Government had done, there would still be an opportunity for the House to come forward with its own amendments.

The Government's present position appears to be that they are going to carry on with their bad behaviour until the committee catches them out. If anybody else catches them out their attitude is that they need pay no attention. I hope the Minister will robustly say that that is not the

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case, and that he would welcome a reasoned argument in future on why Henry VIII clauses should be curtailed by sunset clauses. I beg to move.

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I have some sympathy with what the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has said but, on this occasion, I do not feel able to support the amendment. I served for some years as a member of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, although I am not currently a member. The question of whether sunset clauses should be attached, either on a regular or occasional basis, to Henry VIII powers relating to transitional and consequential amendments and so on should be considered by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee.

A number of difficult questions need to be considered. For example, we now know from a Written Answer to a Question that I tabled that these clauses have been used on a considerable number of occasions and, in a number of cases, more than three years after the enactment of the Act. Rather than go into this matter on an ad hoc basis, it would be helpful if the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee could issue a special report on whether or not it was appropriate that a time limit should be imposed on some or all of such clauses. In the mean time, I am not minded to support the proposal that the sunset clause should be included in this case.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I am a member of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which is taking a great interest in the number of Henry VIII clauses proposed by the Government. They seem to have become a habit. On this occasion, the Government are suggesting to the Scots Parliament that it should develop the habit of behaving like Henry VIII.

When we last discussed the issue, the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, suggested that perhaps Henry VIII clauses in the Scots Parliament should be called "Macbeth" clauses. I have reflected on that matter and I do not believe that that is the right name for them. I suspect—although I have not yet had an opportunity to discuss it north of the Border—that there was nothing more unattractive to Scots than the way in which Henry VIII behaved south of the Border. However, he was not their king in this respect and I am not sure that the Scots will mind referring to them as Henry VIII clauses.

I hope that the Scots Parliament will not develop the habit of using them too often because it does not have a House of Lords or a Select Committee to question them. I trust that the Government will be careful about inflicting this habit on the Scottish Parliament, although it is not for this House to say.

My noble friend is making the limited suggestion that a sunset clause should apply if the government of the day do not come forward with proposals. The amendment seeks merely to hold the Government to account, within three years, for the way in which the Bill has operated.

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I, too, shall be interested in what the Minister has to say. I hope that he will take the matter seriously because I believe that the Government are developing an unfortunate habit in relation to such clauses. I hope that we shall not see too many of them.

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