Peers are barely half way through the longest andmost complicated legislation so far introduced by the Labourgovernment.
Tory spokesman Lord Saatchi delivered an officialprotest over the latest 254 Government amendments with’hundreds more to come’ and complained that few are inresponse to points raised by the opposition.
Saatchi said there was ‘deep concern’ over the conduct of aBill which ‘changes the face of regulation of Britain’s mostsuccessful industry’ and accused ministers of ‘almostredrafting the Bill as it goes along.’
Liberal Democrat Lord Newby said it was ‘extremely difficult todeal with such a huge volume of highly technical amendments onwhich one sometimes needs outside advice at short notice.’
Former Tory minister Lord Peyton attacked ‘the government’srather sloppy conduct’ and Tory Lord Stewartby claimedministers have still not resolved all the issues involved inthe Bill.
But Lord McIntosh of Haringey, for the government, said the Billwas immensely complicated because it dealt with complicatedmarkets which change from day to day.
He claimed credit for keeping the number of changes he isproposing at below the 600 he warned of earlier and for issuingclear explanations for all the changes.
He said many are ‘entirely positive’ because they reflectpoints brought up in debates and others are drafting changeswhich are “entirely neutral’.
But he admitted some involve a rethink about the best waygovernment policy can be achieved.
He was backed by former Labour chief Treasury secretary LordBarnett, who criticised the Tories for planning to make lifedifficult for the government in the Lords and said that withsuch a complicated bill the government would be under fire fromthe opposition if they were not making further changes.
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