Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Seventh Report



Letter from the Lord Chancellor to the Chairman

I am writing in response to your report as Chair of the Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform, for which I am most grateful.

Concern was expressed regarding the first use of the power under clause 8, dividing England and Wales into administrative areas to be called local justice areas. I am pleased to be able to confirm that the first order will indeed be limited to renaming the petty sessions areas local justice areas, as has always been the intention. This will be dealt with in the schedule of transitional provisions to the Bill, which will be introduced as a Government amendment.

For clauses 68 and 75 (power to amend legislation in connections with criminal and family procedure rules respectively), the Committee felt that the case for negative procedure was not sufficiently strong. I accept the Committee's recommendation on this point, and will consider an appropriate amendment to that effect.

The Committee was concerned that clause 98 was not subject to sufficient Parliamentary scrutiny. I am aware that the scrutiny of clauses providing for minor and consequential amendments and repeal to primary legislation are a more general issue that Cabinet Office are considering. There is of course a balance to be stuck between Parliamentary scrutiny and the best use of Parliamentary time. In this instance, I recognise that the power is a wide one, and remain convinced that this is entirely necessary given the large number of consequential amendments flowing from the Bill. I am therefore content to subject this to affirmative resolution, in view of the Committee's recommendations.

The Committee was also concerned about the scrutiny afforded to clause 87, allowing the Lord Chancellor to set fees by order. I have carefully considered the views of the Committee and agree that it would be preferable that this clause be subject to negative resolution.

I will bring forward Government amendments to enact these changes to the Bill as soon as possible.

6 January 2003

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