Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Fourth Report


Memorandum by Her Majesty's Stationery Office


  This memorandum is submitted in response to the request to explain why the above instrument was printed double-fold, as distinct from the usual single-fold, thereby producing a blank page and increasing the cover price.

  There are two separate reasons why the style of the final version differed from that usually adopted:

1. Page Content

  When the original proof was produced the need to apply logical page breaks between the individual Regulations resulted in the main text extending to well over three pages. This meant there was insufficient space to accommodate both the Explanatory Note and the printing and publishing details at the foot of page 4 so the former appeared by itself on page 5, with a standard back page - inclusive of the heading - as the reverse.

  When the instrument was returned for printing the equivalent of four lines of text on page 1 had been deleted. When this change was incorporated it allowed Paragraph 1(3) to commence on page 1, resulting in further spacing adjustments throughout the following two pages. The new layout meant it was now possible to accommodate the entire text in three pages.

  Although the correct course would then have been to reposition the Explanatory Note and the publisher's details on page 4, the printer mistakenly believed that the layout for the final page (by that stage proofed and approved) had also to be incorporated. This misunderstanding resulted in the Explanatory Note being moved from page 5 to page 4, with the original (by now redundant) layout for page 6 retained.

  It is most unlikely that this problem would have arisen had one of The Stationery Office's normal contractors been used for production as they are aware that the layout appearing on page 6 of the instrument is no more than a device adopted to utilise otherwise blank space. However, this S.I. was produced (to an accelerated timetable) in the period immediately before Parliament was dissolved, when the volume of material required to be printed had resulted in additional printers, less familiar with the conventions concerned, being pressed into service.

2. Format

  It is normal for six-page S.I.s to be produced with the middle two pages as a single leaf, stapled within the outside four-page section. The result conforms to a standard book format with no ambiguity as to the sequence of pages.

  The style adopted in error on this occasion is one that is frequently encountered in other contexts and has the benefit of being quicker and cheaper to produce, as no inserting and stitching processes are involved. The printer (who, as has already been explained, was not regularly allocated S.I. work) adopted this layout, partly to meet the urgent programme required but also because the work would then be undertaken by the most economical method. In other circumstances, the changed format - although unorthodox - would not have resulted in a price penalty to the customer.


  We are sorry that a number of inconsistencies arose during the production of this S.I. There is no doubt that these problems would not have been encountered had the instrument been assigned to one of The Stationery Office Limited's usual contractors. Although it is most unlikely that similar pressures will be experienced in the foreseeable future, we have arranged for. The Stationery Office to produce comprehensive guidelines on the style and format to accompany any further S.I.s which need to be sent outside of their normal range of suppliers.

16th June 1997

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