External Letter by AndrewIsherwood

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									                               CONVENERS GROUP

Thank you for your letter of 4 March asking for the views of the Conveners Group on
the rules which might apply to the consideration of Hybrid Bills.

The Group considered this at its meeting on 19 March and concentrated on issue 10
identified in Annexe A to your letter namely the type of committee which should be
able to consider a Hybrid Bill and what restrictions should apply to membership of
that committee.

The Group was unanimous in agreeing that if the constraints on membership which
currently apply to Private Bills were to apply to a committee considering a Hybrid Bill,
it would not be appropriate for such a Bill to be referred to the subject committee
within whose remit the Bill fell. The tightness of the current rules concerning interest
was such that it had the potential to require significant changes in subject committee
membership. This could adversely affect the rest of such a committee’s work
programme.

The Group was, however, generally supportive of the idea that relevant subject
committees should have a role in relation to scrutiny of the public policy aspects of a
Hybrid Bill.

The Group considered an option in terms of which a Hybrid Bill committee might be
established, with relevant subject committees designated as secondary committees.
This option was attractive to some members but only if the impact on the
membership of the subject committees could be reduced. It was questioned whether
it was necessary for secondary committees to be as closely constrained in their
membership as lead committees are and it is hoped that this will be considered by
the SPPA Committee.

It was also unclear whether under such a model the restrictions on membership
would apply even if the secondary committee restricted itself to scrutiny of policy, as
opposed to those elements of the Bill which required a committee to exercise a
quasi-judicial function. However, it was also observed that there could well be
practical problems in disentangling scrutiny of policy from the Bill as a whole.
Committees did not form views on policy in a vacuum and would wish to take
evidence. This could lead them in to contact with objectors and other stakeholders
to inform the policy scrutiny. It was felt that more thought would require to be given
as to how this option would operate in practice.

The Group also considered an option in terms of which a Hybrid Bill committee
would be able to consult with relevant subject committees but where no formal role
would be afforded to subject committees under Standing Orders. Even in that
situation, there were concerns about how, in practice, such a system would operate.
Again, if a subject committee were to be consulted on the public policy element of
the Bill, it would wish to take evidence. This could lead to the same problems
outlined above and to a possible impact on the committee membership.

In summary, the Group recognised the problems inherent in having a subject
committee lead on the scrutiny on a Hybrid Bill but supported the idea that subject
committees should be involved in the scrutiny of the public policy aspects of the Bill
provided that that could be done in a way which did not place restrictions on the
membership of the subject committees and which allowed the subject committees to
take evidence on which to base conclusions.

Trish Godman
Convener to the Conveners Group

								
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