This is entry No.30, first published on 10 March 2011, of a blog on public bodies reform. Click here to view the whole blog.
At last, half an hour after midnight this morning, the Bill completed its Committee Stage (see here).
Highlights of this final session included agreement to the Government's amendment No. 118 and, with all party support, Lord Lester's amendment No. 1175ZA (replacing the earlier amendment no.175). Amendment No.118 (which, in its revised substituted form, makes it explicit, in response to the Delegated Powers Committee's sixth report, that the enhanced procedure can be activated by a recommendation of a committee of either House) introduces a requirement for orders to be laid with a reasoned explanatory document and to be subject to super-affirmative procedure. Amendment 175ZA introduces a legally enforceable requirement preventing orders being made concerning specified judicial, enforcement and scrutiny functions from being exercised independently. The forestry provisions and, as Lord Taylor described it, "the waiting room" of Schedule 7 were also deleted , as the Government had earlier agreed to. Incidentally, despite how this is reported in Hansard (which is a mistake:see column 1738), clause 11 was also deleted.
Other particularly noteworthy elements included amendment 113ZA substituting the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly as the relevant consenting bodies where consent is required in place of the Scottish Executive, Welsh Ministers and the relevant Northern Ireland department, confirmation that the Government is committed to a Grocers Code adjudicator and to enforcing a groceries code of practice with a draft bill to be produced in due course (see debate on amendment No.85A) and that the Government will continue to meet British Waterways funding until 2022-23 (see debate on amendment No.86).
It was also revealed that there will be consultation on the transfer of HFEA and HTA functions in 2011, with the preparation of draft orders following in 2012-13 (see debate on amendment No.92). In relation to consultation, Lord Taylor of Holbeach for the Government also indicated that "The Government also accept that in some cases it is completely appropriate to consult the public in relation to such proposals. For example, I can confirm to the Committee that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills intends to consult this year on its proposed changes to competition bodies. We discussed that earlier this evening. It will be a public consultation. The Government Equalities Office will soon publish its consultation document on reform of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Later this year, Defra will issue a public consultation on its plans to replace British Waterways with a charitable body."
Lord Taylor also confirmed that the Government is committed to considering further the possibility of a sunset clause for the bill at report stage.
The bill will now proceed to report stage on 23 and 28 March and, whilst there is also a separate third reading stage in the Lords when amendments can be taken, it looks very much as if the the intention is to complete all stages in the Lords before the Easter recess so that the bill can commence its passage through the Commons when it comes back on 26 April and then move through to royal assent before the summer recess at the end of July.
Here is a revised Amendment Scorecard for the Public Bodies Bill:
Amendments agreed: Nos.1, 26, 47, 64, 68, 72A, 74A, 76, 79A, 105ZA,113ZA, 113AA-AB,113BA-BC,113E,114, 118, 175ZA,175C,175D,175E,179 and 182.
Amendments disagreed: No.17.
Amendments not moved: Nos. 5, 9-14, 16, 16A, 21, 24, 32, 34-36, 40, 42, 45, 50-58, 60A, 67A &B, 69, 69A, 74, 74B and 75, 77 77A-79, 80, 81, 102-105,107,113,113D, 114A-117,118A-B, 119, 121, 122,124,125A, 131, 134-134ZA, 137D, 138,139A, 140,141, 141A,144,145, 146,148A, 150-153,154,154A-B,155,156,158,159,160A,161,163,164,165A,166,166BZA, 166BA-EA,166EB-G,168A-D,174ZA-ZB,174AB, 175ZB, 176,177,178,180 and 181.
Amendments withdrawn: Nos. 2, 3A, 3B and 4, 6, 7A, 8, 15, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 23A., 25, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31,33. 36A,37,39, 41, 43, 44, 46,59 and 61, 62, 63, 65, 65A, 66, 66A, 67, 70, 70A, 71, 72, 73, 82, 105A,106A, 108, 111,112,113A-B,113C, 120,123,125,126,131A-133A,136A-C,139, 139ZA,139B,140A,142,142ZA,143,143A,146A-148,149,149A,153A,154YA-ZB,154C,157,157A,159ZA-160,160,160B,161A,162,163A-E,164A,165,165AZA-B,166ZA,166A-B,166BZB,167,168,169-174 and 175(replaced by 175ZA).