This is entry No.45, first published on 21 November 2011, of a blog on public bodies reform. Click here to view the whole blog. If you would like to be notified when the blog is updated, with links sent by email, click here.
Wednesday 23 November sees the Lords consider the Commons' amendments to the Bill and, assuming they are not all accepted, the commencement of to-ing and fro-ing between the Houses on the inclusion, omission or modification of those amendments, a process which is now known even in official circles as ping pong. Royal Assent can therefore be expected before the Christmas recess.
So far, motions tabled by Baroness Finlay of LLandaff, Lord Ramsbottom and Lord Newton of Braintree give notice that the Commons Amendments 47, 49, 50, 51, 53 and 54, will be challenged. These relate to the provision made for the Civil Justice Council and the Youth Justice Board and the ongoing debate concerning whether the Government should now bring forward, as it is disinclined to do, arrangements for the creation of a Chief Coroner - a subject which has continues to excite a lot of interest eg from the British Legion (see here).
Avid followers of this blog will have noticed that the blog did not cover the Consideration and Report stage in the Commons when it took place, somewhat unexpectedly a week earlier than originally programmed, on Tuesday 25 October (see here), the programme having been brought forward without prior notice the previous Thursday. This caught many by surprise, including many of those who had hoped to brief MPs prior to the debate. Furthermore, with many very significant changes to the bill having been made in Committee and no less than 30 Government amendments tabled for this final stage on the floor of the House, including significant provision for environmental bodies to share back office functions and provision enabling charitable incorporated organisations to be given functions under transfer orders (all passed), it was never going to be a straightforward or uncontentious affair. Those who worry that political expediency too often precludes proper parliamentary scrutiny of primary legislation, let alone secondary legislation, may well feel that this is yet another example of the inadequacies of existing procedures. If so, whatever your political leanings, you will probably sympathise with Jon Trickett, the Shadow Cabinet Office minister, who in bemoaning the event in Labour Uncut, was reminded of the motto: there are two things you don't want to see being made : law and sausages (see here).
Other things to note are the publication of the written evidence presented to the Commons Public Bill Committee (here), a Cabinet Office assurance regarding the application of Tupe (here) and the Procedure Committee's Seventh Report, published on 31 October (here), endorsing proposals by the Leader of the House as to the parliamentary procedure under clause 11(1) and(8). There was also a Written Answer given by Sir George Young on 14 November indicating that "The Government are currently considering arrangements for scrutiny of certain draft orders under the Public Bodies Bill and the Localism Bill and will bring forward proposals in due course".
As the Bill steams forward towards enactment and given the provision now made in the Bill allowing prior consultations to count, in relation to orders to be made under the Bill, it is worth noting too that quite a number of consultations on prospective orders under the Bill once enacted, have now closed. These include consultations on reforming the public bodies of the Ministry of Justice (closed 11 October), abolition of the Advisory Committee on Hazardous Substances (14 October), the creation out of BWB of a new waterways charity (closed 24 October) and the abolition of the Inland Waterways Advisory Committee (closed 14 November).