Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Seventeenth Report


SEVENTEENTH REPORT


FROM THE JOINT COMMITTEE OF BOTH HOUSES APPOINTED TO SCRUTINISE STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS, ETC.[1]

ORDERED TO REPORT:

  1. The Committee has considered the instruments set out in the Annex to this Report and has determined that the special attention of both Houses does not require to be drawn to any of them.

  2. A memorandum by the Department of Trade and Industry in connection with the Measuring Instruments (EEC Requirements) (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 1999 (S.I. 1999/861) is printed in Appendix I to this Report.

  3. A memorandum by the Northern Ireland Court Service in connection with the Legal Advice and Assistance (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999 (S.R. 1999/131) is printed in Appendix II to this Report.

  4. Memoranda by the Department of Social Security and the Inland Revenue in connection with the Social Security (Contributions and Credits) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 1999 (S.I. 1999/568) are printed in Appendix III to this Report.

ROAD TRAFFIC (NHS CHARGES) (REVIEWS AND APPEALS) REGULATIONS 1999 (S.I. 1999/786)

  5. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to these Regulations on the ground that they are defectively drafted.

  6. The Regulations make provision for the review of a certificate of NHS charges, appeals against certificates and the right of appeal to the High Court on a point of law. Regulation 11(3) provides that, without prejudice to provisions for appeal to the High Court under section 9 of the Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Act 1999 (appeals on a point of law), there is to be no other appeal against the tribunal's correction of an accidental error in a decision. The Committee asked the Department of Health to explain what sort of correction of an accidental error in a decision could give rise to an appeal on a point of law under section 9. The Department answer in the memorandum printed in Appendix IV that a tribunal may correctly decide that a certain charge is payable, but wrongly specify the amount when giving its decision, or wrongly record the charge in the record of the decision. Where the decision or record is corrected, the person to whom the certificate was issued, or the Secretary of State, may dispute that the corrected figure is the amount properly payable. Under these circumstances there could be an appeal under section 9 of the Act. This answer fails to differentiate between a dispute over the amount properly payable, which could lead to a dispute over a question of law, and the act of correction itself, which could not. The saving "without prejudice to provisions for appeals to the court under section 9 of the Act" and the word "other" should not have been included in regulation 11(3), and the Committee reports it for defective drafting.

NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE (LIABILITIES TO THIRD PARTIES SCHEME) REGULATIONS 1999 (S.I. 1999/873) NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE (PROPERTY EXPENSES SCHEME) REGULATIONS 1999 (S.I. 1999/874)

  7. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to both of these Regulations for an unjustifiable breach of the 21-day rule.

  8. Instruments should be laid before Parliament at least 21 days before they come into force, but both of these Regulations were laid before Parliament only 15 days before they were due to come into force. The Department of Health said in the first memorandum printed in Appendix V that it had not been possible for the two instruments to comply with the 21 day rule because "delays in the drafting of the schemes have resulted in the Regulations being made later than anticipated". The Committee asked them to elaborate on this comment, and say why the Regulations could not have been prepared earlier. The Department explain in the second memorandum printed in Appendix V that the Regulations had to come into force on 1 April or else NHS trusts might have been left without insurance cover. Work began on the Regulations in December 1998, but they were not ready to be laid before Parliament in time because their contents and wording had not been agreed by the Department, their external advisers and the Special Health Authority responsible for running the schemes. The Committee does not find the circumstances to be such as to justify the delay in making and laying these Regulations and accordingly reports both Regulations for an unjustifiable breach of the 21-day rule.

ERRATUM

In the Annex to the Committee's 15th report of this Session, the National Health Service (Property Expenses Scheme) Regulations 1999 (S.I. 1999/874) were incorrectly listed as being an instrument to which the Committee did not draw the special attention of both Houses. The Regulations are reported to both Houses in this report.


1   The Orders of Reference of the Committee are set out in the First Report, Session 1998-99 (HL Paper 4; HC 50-i). Back


 
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