Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Thirty-Second Report


Memorandum by the Department of Health

(ESTABLISHMENT) ORDER 1998 (S.I. 1998/651)

(ESTABLISHMENT) ORDER 1998 (S.I. 1998/653)

1.  By a letter from its Clerk dated 22nd April 1998 the Committee has requested the Department to submit a Memorandum on the following point -

    Article 1(2) of each instrument fixes for the trust an "establishment date" of 1st April 1998, and article 5(1) an "operational date" which is the same. Having regard to the provisions of articles 6 and 7, which cannot have any application unless the operational date follows the establishment date, should not article 5(1) have provided for the operational date to fall on a date later than 1st April 1998?

Establishment and Operational Date

2.  The Committee is correct in saying that the establishment date of the trust in these cases should have been earlier than the operational date, given the provisions of articles 6 and 7. The proofs of the first-named Order were returned to the Department's Parliamentary Branch on 27th February 1998 and those of the second-named Order on 10th March 1998. Blanks were left for the coming into force date and the establishment date (the same date) to be filled in, as the lawyer responsible could not predict the date on which the Order would be signed. The operational date was set as 1st April 1998, in common with all newly established NHS trusts this year. Unfortunately, it was not communicated to Parliamentary Branch that the coming into force and establishment dates should be earlier than the operational date (i.e. some time before 1st April) and 1st April was filled in as the establishment date.

3.  The Department accepts that this rendered the provisions of articles 6 and 7 redundant, but considers that this has not had any practical effect, as the provisions would simply have failed to be invoked. Nonetheless, the Department regrets what has happened, and undertakes to ensure that this point is communicated to its Parliamentary Branch in future.

28th April 1998

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