The Bill to enable the government to amend legislation speedily in an attempt to cut down red tape and reduce over-prescriptive demands on the private and public sector returned to the lords - a week after peers had given it a third reading and sent it to the commons.
Cabinet office minister Lord Falconer admitted he had made a technical mistake when the Regulatory Reform Bill came up first time for its final consideration in the lords. He had not moved the so-called 'privilege amendment' - a technical device enabling a Bill which requires public funding to begin its parliamentary stages in the upper house. The device is designed to underline that the commons has the final say on financial matters.
Lord Falconer said that although the Bill had no financial implications, orders made under it might do. He then used a rare procedure for the first time in living memory and moved that the third reading proceedings of 19 February 2001 be 'vacated' - effectively winning parliamentary approval to say that a debate which took place had not taken place.
Lord Falconer then moved third reading and the privilege amendment. The Bill was then approved without debate and sent to the commons for the second time.
The measure is likely to be used to make it easier to increase provision of after-school care and to amend regulations on weights and measures.
Hansard 26 Feb: Column 943