Clause 265 - Power to make consequential amendments etc.

Enterprise Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:30 am ar 16 Mai 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Ceidwadwyr, Eastbourne 9:30, 16 Mai 2002

I beg to move amendment No. 143, in page 180, line 34, at end insert—

'(1A) But no order made under subsection (1) may amend or alter or in any way affect Part 6'.

This debate echoes one that we had couple of times on part 6, which dealt with cartels. The clause gives the Secretary of State pretty wide powers to amend the Bill and other legislation by regulation. The Committee can take as read the usual outrage of Opposition

parties over the inclusion of such powers; our outrage is almost as routine as the inclusion of the powers themselves.

There should, however, be no way of amending the provisions of part 6, in particular. As we said when we debated that part of the Bill, it provides for serious penalties and powers to deal with the perceived problem of cartels. We debated the criminalising of cartels, and there is no need to go over that ground again, save to say that importing severe criminal penalties and pretty draconian measures of investigation into the law may be counterproductive and not strictly necessary. Such provisions may hamper investigations and affect co-operation with other regimes, such as that in Europe. We have, however, been into all that.

The powers in part 6 are important and serious, and the amendment makes it clear that the Secretary of State would have to put primary legislation through the House if she wanted to alter them or make them even more draconian. I commend that perfectly sensible safeguard to the Committee.

Photo of Miss Melanie Johnson Miss Melanie Johnson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry

As the hon. Gentleman said, the amendment would exclude the application of a power to make supplementary, incidental or consequential provisions by order. It would exclude the application of such a power to part 6, which provides for the new cartels offence.

The purpose of the clause is to provide the flexibility to make, by delegated legislation, any minor revisions to legislation that are required to ensure that the Bill's provisions fit well with those of other legislation. I am told that such clauses are common.

In a Bill of such complexity that covers several policy areas, the provision is entirely sensible. The powers are limited. They can be used only for the limited purposes given in subsection (1), which specifies that supplementary, incidental or consequential provision can be made only for the purposes of the Bill and in consequence of or to give effect to its terms. I emphasise that the powers would not permit the wholesale rewriting of substantive parts of the Bill, including part 6. Therefore, it would not be possible to make substantive changes to the cartels offence, for example, as a result of the provision.

We do not intend to change the Bill through the powers, and part 6 is no exception. However, it would be unwise to assume that any provision made under the powers could have no effect on part 6. It would be unwise to exclude that part from the clause, so I ask that the amendment be withdrawn.

Photo of Nigel Waterson Nigel Waterson Ceidwadwyr, Eastbourne

I am content, so I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 265 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 266 ordered to stand part of the Bill.