Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill debate highlights
Late with this, but there was some top-notch attempted liveblogging of yesterday's parliamentary debates over the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill over at the Save Parliament Blog - attempted, because the whole thing was typically impenetrable, and is continuing today.
A brief selection of some of the better points raised from the earliest stages of the debate, which came from MPs from all parties (at least, of the 40 or so who bothered to turn up). The whole thing is worth reading though:
John Redwood (Con): "Can he tell the House what kind of measures he will want to bring forward for repeal or amendment under these clauses, as his predecessor seemed to find it difficult to give us a list of examples?"As I say, read the rest...
David Howarth (Lib Dem): "new clause 19... subsection (3) would still allow the Government to remove by secondary legislation the right to jury trial. Jury trial might be considered to impose 'a financial cost' on employers or to be 'an administrative inconvenience' to a number of different bodies."
David Heath (Lib Dem): "This is very early in the debate and in his ministerial career, but I urge him not to fall into the trap that his predecessor fell into when discussing the Bill, which is simply to assert that something will not happen or that he could not conceive of it happening or that it is not the Government's intention for it to happen, rather than actually expressing in statutory form that it cannot happen.... although the Minister may be absolutely convinced that he has no intention of using the Bill for an inappropriate cause, a future Government may"
David Howarth (Lib Dem): "The problem all along with clause 3 is that it is drafted in subjective form—what matters is what the Minister considers to be necessary, and the Minister might consider the abolition of jury trial to be necessary to achieve a ministerial objective."
Ken Clarke (Con): "Although the new clause is well-intended, its terms are still amazingly broad. Am I right in believing, looking at subsection (3), that these powers could be used to abolish a tax, to relieve an interest group or trade from a burden of taxation, or to abolish a crime, to make something lawful that was previously unlawful under the criminal law? Those may be very desirable things, but they are subject to more safeguards than consultation and Select Committees. They should be subject to parliamentary debate, before any such step is contemplated."
Mark Fisher (Lab): "Does the Minister accept that a burden on one group in society may well be a freedom for another group? I do not understand how the interpretation of subsection (3) of the new clause would relate to, for instance, employment rights. From the point of view of the employer, which may be the state or a private company, employment rights are undoubtedly a burden on efficiency and productivity. According to my reading of the new clause, it would appear that employment rights could be removed by order of a Minister."
Edward Garnier (Con): "The great thing about Report is that one can have these to-ing and fro-ing debates. That is important and I am grateful to the Minister for entering into the debate in that spirit. This point is most important. We are dealing with primary legislation that gives a Minister huge powers to make legislation. If the Minister is telling me that I, as a representative of my constituents, will have to rely on some as yet unformed Select Committee to exercise its judgment in a way that would be helpful to me and my constituents, that is extremely worrying. He must surely be able to understand that the making of criminal law should be dealt with here, right the way through every stage."