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Reform Bill amended to limit government powers

12 May 2006

The Government has made wholesale amendments to the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill after a panel of MPs last week labelled the draft legislation “entirely disproportionate to its stated aims”.

Cabinet Office minister Jim Murphy tabled a number of amendments to the Bill this week including measures to provide a statutory veto on the face of the Bill to be exercised by relevant committees in the House of Lords and the House of Parliament. The Bill, which according to Murphy is supposed to “deliver reductions in unnecessary red tape by reducing or removing burdens”, would have given ministers the power to alter legislation without parliamentary consultation.

A report by the Public Administration Select Committee, published last week, called for additional safeguards to be inserted into the Bill “so that it contains real restrictions on the government’s power”.

“Minimally, the Bill needs to be amended to ensure that the powers it contains cannot be used to amend the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act itself,” the report said.

Jim Murphy commented: “Today we have tabled amendments that put beyond doubt that this Bill will deliver our better regulation agenda and nothing else. The time has come for those who claim they want to tackle bureaucracy to stand up and be counted, and let the government of the day get on with the crucial task of cutting unnecessary red tape."

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