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gory public bodies bill November 4, 2010

Posted by Bradley in : governance , trackback

The Public Bodies Bill (horrible title) is criticized today by the Select Committee on the Constitution:

The Government has not made out the case as to why the vast range and number of statutory bodies affected by this Bill should be abolished, merged or modified by force only of ministerial order, rather than by ordinary legislative amendment and debate in Parliament. As we have said, and as is axiomatic, the ordinary constitutional position in the United Kingdom is that primary legislation is amended or repealed only by Parliament. Further, it is a fundamental principle of the constitution that parliamentary scrutiny of legislation is allowed to be effective. While we acknowledge that exceptions are permitted — as in the case of fast-track legislation, for example — we have also sought to ensure that such exceptions are used only where the need for them is clearly set out and justified. As we have said, the use of Henry VIII powers, while accepted in certain, limited circumstances, remains a departure from constitutional principle. Departures from constitutional principle should be contemplated only where a full and clear explanation and justification is provided.

And, if that isn’t enough:

The Public Bodies Bill [HL] strikes at the very heart of our constitutional system, being a type of ‘framework’ or ‘enabling’ legislation that drains the lifeblood of legislative amendment and debate across a very broad range of public arrangements. In particular, it hits directly at the role of the House of Lords as a revising chamber.
.. The Public Bodies Bill [HL] is concerned with the design, powers and functions of a vast range of public bodies, the creation of many of which was the product of extensive parliamentary debate and deliberation. We fail to see why such parliamentary debate and deliberation should be denied to proposals now to abolish or to redesign such bodies.

I suppose that if you use the word bodies in a bill title you are just asking for responses invoking blood and guts.

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