Lords Committee says Government must provide clarity on new ministerial powers in Growth and Infrastructure Bill

18 January 2013

The House of Lords Constitution Committee has today published its report on the Growth and Infrastructure Bill and says that clause 1 of the Bill, which gives ministers “unqualified” power to make planning decisions on behalf of a designated local planning authority, lacks clarity and risks shifting too much power to the executive.

The Committee thinks that Government assurances that this power would only be used in exceptional circumstances are insufficient, saying that such assurances are “no firm basis on which to legislate.”

The report calls on the Government to make clear on the face of Bill that the powers would only be used “exceptional circumstances”. The Committee suggests the House of Lords should consider whether the criteria for such circumstances should be defined in secondary legislation.

Commenting, Baroness Jay of Paddington, Chairman of the House of Lords Constitution Committee, said:

"The Constitution Committee thinks that when significant powers over local decision-making are being transferred to central Government it is important that there is clarity over when and how those powers might be used. It is not sufficient for the Government simply to give assurances that they are likely to be rarely used; that must be clear in the legislation itself.

We are making our report to the House of Lords ahead of Committee stage of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill on 22 January to alert the House to our concerns and inform debate as the Bill progresses."

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