House of Lords Report Stage Debate October 27, 2006Posted by James in Politics.
Yesterday, the House of Lords debated the Report Stage of the LRRB, the second to last debate on the Bill in that House. The full debate is available online at TheyWorkForYou.
An amendment was proposed by the Liberal Democrat Lord Goodhart to remove the wording “he considers” from the “power to remove or reduce burdens” section of the Bill. This amendment would mean that it is no longer enough for a Minister to “consider” that the order would remove a burden, it must actually be the case. This turns it from a subjective test into an objective test, which could be tested by a court of law. This amendment would make the whole Bill much safer and prevent abuse by “well-meaning” Ministers.
Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated by 116 votes to 103. The voting was entirely along party lines, with almost the entire House except for Labour Lords voting for the amendment.
Even more unfortunately, the turnout for the vote was lower than we might have hoped. This is especially true of the Conservative Lords, of whom only 24% turned up to vote. Who knows, with a few more in the House, this Bill might have been made safe. After all, only 14 votes were needed to pass the amendment!
With this in mind, we are hoping that the amendment will be tabled for the Third Reading, which is the last debate in the Lords on the Bill, and which takes place next Thursday. We’re hoping to get more Lords out to vote for it, so if you feel like writing to a Lord and asking them to support such an amendment, and indeed just to turn up, please do so at WriteToThem.
There was also some good news from the debate. An amendment was passed that required the Minister to be satisfied that the order is not of “constitutional significance” before making it. Obviously this is weakened by the “he considers” working discussed above, but is still a welcome addition.
You can see the full text of the Bill as amended in Report online here.