Clause 17 - Power to remove or reduce burdens

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 9:30 am ar 29 Tachwedd 2022.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Future of Work), Shadow Minister (Business and Industrial Strategy)

The clause relates to legislative reform orders under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006. There are certainly positives associated with the mechanisms within which those orders operate.

The procedure for enacting draft Bills, in common with the terms of new clauses we have tabled, would include requirements for consultation, with further time for parliamentary consideration. When we are talking about between 2,400 and 3,800 laws, we think that is a reasonable proposal. That requirement would apply to instruments introduced under both the negative and the affirmative procedure, with the super-affirmative procedure further requiring 60 days for consideration, and a requirement on Ministers to have regard to recommendations to amend the draft order. Even if Ministers choose to press ahead with the unamended order, they must still lay a report before the House detailing the representations made and the proposed revisions. Although these measures do not go quite as far as our proposed new clauses, if they were used across the board for non-deregulatory purposes, they would be far more preferable to the use of the standard procedures currently in the Bill.

As Jack Williams pointed out in evidence a couple of weeks ago, the main concern is that using any of the mechanisms contained in the 2006 Act will put in place completely unrealistic time constraints, if they were used on all regulations and pieces of legislation on the EU dashboard. We have discussed at length why we think the 2023 sunset is unrealistic. Given that the time restrictions we face are well known, why does the clause remain in the Bill? Are there plans to use this power? Will the Minister provide us with some examples of where he thinks it might be appropriate to use this procedure or where it is already intended to be used? How will the problem of the clear six to eight months we will have once the Bill is passed to deal with all the regulations be dealt with?

The Government have promised to abide by all the stages of consultation and reporting in the Bill. It seems to me that it would therefore be a challenge to deal with this in the timeframe we have. Will the Minister tell us what criteria will be used when deciding to use this procedure? I presume some consideration was given as to when it might be appropriate to use it before it was inserted into the Bill. If Ministers choose not to use this power, there is nothing that we as parliamentarians can do about it. That is the nub of it.

Looking at 2016 Government guidance on legislative reform orders, it was noted that it can take some 10 to 14 months from the start of a consultation before a legislative reform order becomes law and reaches the statute book. I think we are all conscious of the fact that, even in the unlikely event that there is a smooth passage of this Bill through the Lords, it will be in force at the lower end of that timescale, if not far below it. I wonder if the Minister can tell us whether there is any intention to use the powers under the clause and, if so, in which circumstance they might be operative.

Photo of Graham Stuart Graham Stuart Minister of State (Minister for Climate)

Clause 17 amends the LRRA 2006 explicitly to include any retained direct EU legislation in its definition of legislation. This amendment confirms that the delegated powers existing in the framework for legislative reform orders extend to retained direct EU legislation, and enable it to be amended within the current procedures and scope of the LRO process. There is no reason to exempt this category of legislation from the LRO process. It is a pretty innocuous technical change, and I commend the clause to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 17 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.