At Wednesday’s meeting of the Constitution Committee, we devoted most of our time to discussing a draft of our report on the Cabinet Office. However, we also approved a short report on the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies and Credit Unions Bill. This is a Private Member’s Bill which has Government support. The subject matter is uncontentious, but we raised with Government a number of concerns about the drafting, not least the breadth of the ‘Henry VIII’ clauses. As a result, the Government has accepted our concerns and brought forward amendments to meet them.
I mention this simply as an indication of the type of constructive dialogue that takes place between committees and ministers. Some concerns are raised in reports; some points are raised in correspondence. When I chaired the Constitution Committee, I was in correspondence with ministers on a number of Bills, with various amendments being made by Government as a consequence. Many recommendations are not on fundamental issues, though some are on crucial aspects of a Bill. Taken in combination, the changes made are substantial. Committee reports on Bills may receive little attention – the report I have drawn to your attention may gets it highest readership through this post – but they make an important contribution to improving what reaches the statute book.