Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Seventeenth Report


  SEVENTEENTH 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.

CARE STANDARDS ACT 2000 (COMMENCEMENT NO. 9 (ENGLAND) AND TRANSITIONAL AND SAVINGS PROVISIONS) ORDER 2001 (S.I. 2001/3852)

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

3. Paragraph 3(1) of the Schedule to this Order requires the relevant authority to send certain information and documents to the relevant provider. This obligation is expressed to be subject to sub-paragraph (7), which in certain circumstances requires that person to send copies of the information and documents to the existing care home manager, but does not appear to qualify the requirements in paragraph 3(1). The Committee therefore sought an explanation from the Department of Health for the inclusion of the qualifying words. In its memorandum printed at Appendix 1, the Department accepts that the duty in sub-paragraph (1) is not subject to or otherwise dependent on sub-paragraph (7), and that it was unnecessary to make the former subject to the latter, and it undertakes to make an appropriate amendment at the first available opportunity. In the Committee's view, the inclusion of the words of subjection was not only unnecessary, but also cast doubt on the scope of the duty.

4. The Committee accordingly reports this Order for defective drafting, acknowledged by the Department.

PLANT PROTECTION PRODUCTS (PAYMENTS) REGULATIONS 2001 (S.I. 2001/3898)

5. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to these Regulations on the ground that no compatibility statement was provided with the Regulations.

6. These Regulations, made under section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972, amend the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 by modifying the application of section 18 of that Act. Paragraph 40 of the guidance to government departments on the Human Rights Act 1998 states that, as a matter of good practice, the Minister in charge of secondary legislation not subject to affirmative resolution which amends primary legislation should always make a written statement regarding its compatibility with Convention rights in an appropriate form, such as by letter to the Committee. No such statement was received in this case.

7. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in a memorandum printed at Appendix 2, acknowledges that, as a result of an oversight, no such statement was provided[2]. The Department states that it considers that the Regulations are compatible with Convention rights.

8. The Committee accordingly reports these Regulations for failure to provide a compatibility statement as envisaged by the guidance to departments.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT (UNCULTIVATED LAND AND SEMI-NATURAL AREAS) (ENGLAND) REGULATIONS 2001 (S.I. 2001/3966)

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

10. These Regulations prohibit the carrying out of a relevant project without the consent of the Secretary of State. An application for consent must include an environmental statement, which is defined in regulation 2(1) as a statement which includes certain information. Regulation 10(1) requires the Secretary of State to take certain action if she reaches the opinion "that the environmental statement should contain additional information in order to be an environmental statement". It appeared to the Committee that this proposition was a logical impossibility.

11. The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, in a memorandum printed at Appendix 3, explains that the intention is that regulation 10(1) should apply where the statement provided by the applicant is found to be defective in that it does not contain all the information necessary for it to be an environmental statement. The Department accepts that the provision as drafted is defective, and proposes to remedy the defect when the Regulations are next amended.

12. The Committee accordingly reports these Regulations for defective drafting, acknowledged by the Department.

LEGAL AID IN CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS (COSTS) (AMENDMENT NO. 2) RULES (NORTHERN IRELAND) 2001 (S.R. 2001/426)

13. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to these Rules on the ground that there has been a failure to comply with Statutory Instrument Practice in respect of them.

14. These Rules were laid before Parliament on 12 December 2001 and came into force on 30 December 2001. They therefore contravene the 21day rule contained in paragraph 5.21 of Statutory Instrument Practice, which requires that instruments subject to negative procedure should normally not be brought into force until 21 days after laying. In its first memorandum, which is printed in Appendix 4, the Northern Ireland Court Service states that the breach was due to an administrative error which resulted in insufficient time to secure the required signatures of two Lords Commissioners of the Treasury.

15. In response to the Committee's request to elaborate on this explanation the Court Service, in its second memorandum also printed in Appendix 4, explains that the original instrument, when signed by the Lord Chancellor, was returned in error to Belfast without being signed by two Lords Commissioners. The Committee therefore reports the Rules for an unjustified breach of the 21 day rule.


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

2   Other written evidence submitted to the Committee in connection with this instrument is not printed. Back


 
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