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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 April 2006, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Climbdown over ministerial powers
Red tape
Critics said the red tape laws could have had constitutional dangers
A controversial piece of legislation which critics fear would give sweeping powers to ministers to change any law is to be rethought.

Ministers wanted powers to scrap red tape but opponents said they could use the same bill to by-pass Parliament and change criminal or constitutional laws.

Now Cabinet Office Minister Jim Murphy had confirmed amendments will be brought in limiting the powers.

A select committee of MPs will be able to veto ministers' decisions.

And the Regulatory Reform Bill will not allow any powers to make constitutional changes.

Mr Murphy rejected suggestions the government was performing a U-turn telling the Financial Times: "It's the same policy but with reassurance being given to those who have concerns."

Major victory?

The changes would prevent people from misconstruing the reform as a bid "by government to take a wider constitutional power", he added.

The Conservatives say the changes are a "major victory for freedom and parliamentary democracy".

Liberal Democrat MP David Howarth meanwhile said the government needed to go further than it had.

"The government needs to accept restrictions that prevent it from using the bill to change the constitution of this county.

"It also needs to accept procedural safeguards that are stronger than merely relying on government dominated committees in the House of Commons and it needs to remove from the Bill the means to grant unlimited legislative power to one person.

"I'm glad to see that the government plan to take several months to sort out the details of these amendments because the topic is of such constitutional importance.

"It is a disgrace that they had attempted to rush through the legislation in such a fashion."

Red tape law 'must not be abused'
06 Feb 06 |  UK Politics

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