Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Sixth Report


SIXTH REPORT

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

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.

East Manchester Education Action Zone (Variation) Order 2000 (S.I. 2000/3326)

2. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to this Order on the ground that it is defectively drafted.

3. This Order varies the East Manchester Education Action Zone Order 1999 (S.I. 1999/3015) by adding one school to those which currently comprise the Zone. It also provides for the circumstances in which members of the Education Action Forum for the Zone may be removed from office. New article 9A(b) provides that a member of the Forum appointed pursuant to article 4(a) may be removed from office by the Forum if any of the schools referred to in "those paragraphs" are discontinued. Given that new article 9A(b) refers only to one paragraph—paragraph (a) of article 4—it is unclear which other paragraphs may be intended to be referred to by that phrase. The Committee asked the Department to explain this. In its memorandum printed in Appendix 1, the Department admits that the words "those paragraphs" should read "that paragraph" as they indeed refer only to article 4(a). The Committee accordingly reports the article for defective drafting, acknowledged by the Department.

Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Membership, Committee and Procedure) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000/3374)

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

5. These Regulations make provision for the membership, committees and procedure of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service. Regulation 10 makes provision for the proceedings of the Service. Paragraph (7) of that regulation requires minutes of proceedings of a meeting to be signed by the chairman at the following meeting. Paragraphs (6)(b) and (6)(c) of the regulation in question make provision for a deputy chairman or other elected member to preside in the absence of the chairman. The Committee asked the Department whether "chairman" in paragraph (7) should instead have read "member presiding" so as to allow the minutes of proceedings to be signed in the absence of the Chairman. The Department, in its memorandum printed in Appendix 2, accept that "chairman" should have read "member presiding" and will take steps to make the necessary amendment. The Committee therefore reports the regulation for defective drafting, acknowledged by the Department.

Education (Information About Individual Pupils) (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000/3370)

6. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to these Regulations on the grounds that they are defectively drafted and that the Explanatory Note is misleading.

7. These Regulations revoke and replace the previous 1999 Regulations. The principal provision of the Regulations, regulation 4, requires the governing body of any maintained school on receiving a request from the local education authority by which the school is maintained to supply in fourteen days such of the information referred to in the Schedule as may be requested. The Explanatory Note to the Regulations indicates that this request must be in writing but this is not expressly stated in the Regulations themselves. The Committee asked the Department to explain this seeming omission. The Department in its memorandum printed in Appendix 3 explains that the explanatory note is misleading: although in the vast majority of cases such requests will be in writing it was not intended that such requests must be in writing. The Committee therefore reports the Regulations on the ground that the Explanatory Note is misleading.

8. The Schedule to the Regulations sets out the information to be provided pursuant to regulation 4 concerning all pupils (Part I) and excluded pupils (Part II). The introductory paragraph to Part II in comparison to that paragraph introducing Part I appears to be missing at its end the words "the following information". The Committee asked the Department to explain the seeming omission. The Department in its memorandum suggests that the words may in fact be superfluous in Part 2 of the Schedule but acknowledge that they should have been included for consistency. The Committee does not agree that the words are superfluous or that they should have been included merely as a matter of consistency. Without them paragraph 1 does not make sense. The Committee accordingly reports the Schedule for defective drafting.

Utilities Act 2000 (Commencement No. 4 and Transitional Provisions) Order 2000 (S.I. 2000/3343)

9. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to this Order on the ground that it fails to conform with proper drafting practise.

10. This Order is the fourth Commencement Order made under the Utilities Act 2000. Paragraph 1 of article 15 of the Order consists of a single sentence of fifteen lines. The Committee considered that the complexity and length of the sentence would hinder a reader's proper understanding of it: therefore the Department was asked to explain clearly the meaning of the sentence and for why it was not drafted in a more comprehensible form. The Department, in its memorandum printed in Appendix 4, admits that it had considered drafting the paragraph in a different way in order to assist the reader's comprehension. However, it was felt that to break up the provision in order to make it more comprehensible would have lengthened it, and those most likely to read the Order (principally the Authority and gas and electricity licence holders) would have no difficulty in understanding the provision. The Department appreciates that it could have made the provision easier to read and will consider drafting in a different manner in the future. The Committee considers the reasons given by the Department for not drafting the provision in a simpler way to be insufficient and accordingly reports the provision for failing to conform with proper drafting practice.


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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