Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Eighteenth Report


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 from the Department of Health in connection with the National Health Service Pension Scheme (Additional Voluntary Contributions) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000/619) is printed in Appendix 1.

  3. A memorandum from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in connection with the Sea Fishing (Enforcement of Community Quota and Third Country Fishing Measures) Order (S.I. 2000/827) is printed in Appendix 2.

MEAT PRODUCTS (HYGIENE) (AMENDMENT) (ENGLAND) REGULATIONS 2000 (S.I. 2000/790)

  4. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to these Regulations on the ground that there has been an unjustified breach of the 21 day rule.

  5. These regulations were laid on the 20th March and came into force on 30th/31st March. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food explained in their first memorandum to the Committee that the delay in laying had been caused by "internal administrative problems and protracted discussions with the relevant enforcement authorities". In a second memorandum printed in Appendix 3, the Ministry elaborates on this statement to explain that the delay was caused by the possibility that the instrument would be used to make further amendments to the Meat Products (Hygiene) Regulations 1994 (S.I. 1994/3082). Further consultation on guidance to accompany the instrument was also required.

  6. In the opinion of the Committee, these reasons do not constitute sufficient reason for the breaching of the 21 day rule. The correct course of action would have been to lay the instrument without delay and to make an additional statutory instrument if it became necessary to amend further S.I. 1994/3082. Furthermore, it is not reasonable to delay the laying of an instrument whilst discussions on accompanying documentation take place: this documentation does not dictate the content of the instrument itself. The Committee accordingly reports the Regulations for an unjustified breach of the 21 day rule.

SEA FISHING (ENFORCEMENT OF COMMUNITY QUOTA AND THIRD COUNTRY FISHING MEASURES) ORDER 2000 (S.I. 2000/827)

  7. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to this order on the ground that it makes an unexpectedly narrow use of the powers under which it has been made: the measures which it seeks to bring into force are inadequately implemented.

  8. This order makes provision under section 30(2) of the Fisheries Act 1981 for the enforcement of certain Community restrictions and other obligations relating to sea fishing by both Community and third country vessels set out in Council Regulation (EC) No. 2742/1999.

  9. The Committee asked the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to identify the provisions of the order which support the restrictions on fishing in the Council Regulation, namely the restrictions on fishing by Community vessels in waters under Icelandic jurisdiction (Article 7.2) and on fishing for sand eels in areas off the east coast of England and Scotland (Article 9 and Annex V, paragraph 4). In respect of fishing in Icelandic waters, the Department concedes, in a memorandum printed in Appendix 2, that there is no enforcement provision in the order regarding action to be taken against British boats if they act in breach of Articles 7.1 and 7.2 of Council Regulation 2742/1999/EC. Article 3 of the order creates an offence for the breach of a specified Community provision by a British boat wherever it may be, but Articles 7.1 and 7.2 of the Council Regulation are not listed in Schedule 1 of the order. The Department undertakes to rectify this omission by amending Schedule 1 (Specified Community Provisions applicable to Community Vessels and Maximum Fares on Summary Conviction) in a further instrument. The Committee accordingly reports this Order for inadequate use of the powers under which it has been made.

ACTION FOR EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT SOUTH EAST SHEFFIELD EDUCATION ACTION ZONE ORDER 2000 (S.I. 2000/863)

BRISTOL EDUCATION ACTION ZONE ORDER 2000 (S.I. 2000/865)

GREAT YARMOUTH ACHIEVEMENT EDUCATION ACTION ZONE ORDER 2000 (S.I. 2000/867)

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

  11. These orders establish Education Action Zones and provide for the membership of the Education Action Forums for the zones. The Committee asked the Department of Education and Employment to explain inconsistencies in the terms used in the orders to express the pre-conditions for removal from office by a forum of a person appointed to it. The Committee noted that in each of the orders, appointment was made in terms of a person who "appears" to the relevant forum to represent certain interests. In the corresponding provisions for removal from office the pre-condition is expressed variously as no longer "meeting" the appointment description (S.I. 2000/863, article 10(d)), being "decided" as no longer meeting the appointment description (S.I. 2000/865, article 10(d)) and no longer "appearing" to meet the appointment description (S.I. 2000/867, article 10(d)).

  12. In the memorandum printed in appendix 4, the Department of Education and Employment explains that the differences in description are due to different lawyers being involved in drafting the individual instruments. The Department accepts the desirability of consistency of language in orders with the same purpose and undertakes to achieve such consistency in future instruments of this type. The preferred wording will be that adopted in S.I 2000/867 (The Great Yarmouth Order), that is, no longer "appearing" to meet the appointment description. That wording will be consistent with the (subjective) form of the corresponding appointment provision. The Committee accordingly reports these orders for defective drafting, acknowledged by the Department.

ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACT 1999 (TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS) ORDER 2000 (S.I. 2000/900)

  13. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to this order on the ground that it requires the elucidation provided.

  14. This order contains transitional provisions relating to the coming into force, on 1st April 2000, of sections 27, 29 and 30 of the Access to Justice Act 1999. The Committee asked the Lord Chancellor's Department why it is necessary to include in article 4 the provision that section 30 of the 1999 Act is not to apply to "any proceedings in relation to which that party gave an undertaking before 1 April 2000 which, if it had been given after that date, would have been an undertaking to which section 30 (1) applied". Given that section 30(1) came into force on 1st April 2000 and cannot apply to undertakings before that date since they could not be undertakings given by bodies prescribed under that section, the Committee found it difficult to conceive of circumstances in which such a disapplication would be necessary.

  15. In the memorandum printed in Appendix 5, the Department explain their concern to put the matter beyond doubt by incorporating the disapplication. Whilst the Committee understands the concern to guard against every conceivable loophole, and accordingly reports the Order as requiring the elucidation provided, we do not share the Department's view that the disapplication is necessary.


1  
The Orders of Reference of the Committee are set out in the First Report, Session 1999-2000 (HL Paper 4; HC 47-i). Back


 
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