Supplementary memorandum from BT
QUESTIONS 13, 14 AND
13. What levels of consultation do you think
there should be on regulations issued under Part 1 of the draft
Regulations and secondary legislation coming
out of the Bill should be the subject of full consultation with
all interested parties, including Category 2 Responders such as
The consultation does not highlight the proposed
scope of the regulation making powers for comment. We believe
it should do so.
14. United Utilities have raised concerns
that emergency powers will have a life of 30 days before lapsing
or requiring renewal: "Category 2 Responders may have been
required under such powers to take actions that are contrary to
normal regulations and good practice. This could result in operation
commitments that are impossible to de-commission rapidly should
the powers not be renewed". What kind of protection would
you like to see under these circumstances?
We agree with this. Obligations relating to
design standards, planning consents and other regulations etc
should lapse in the event of an emergency. BT as a Category 2
Responder may be required, in the interests of the greater good,
to take actions that are contrary to normal regulations and good
practice in the event of an emergency being declared.
We do not believe that the Bill should state
an explicit time frame but refer to review by a suitable body
at an appropriate time after the emergency has ended.
This would offer sufficient flexibility to adapt
to circumstances prevailing at the time of the emergency.
15. BT has suggested that emergency regulations
should not be treated as primary legislation for the purposes
of the Human Rights Act because "it would leave companies
exposed to legal challenge should individuals or organisations
feel their human rights have been infringed by those companies'
implementation of emergency regulations". Can you explain
this concern in greater detail and suggest how you think this
might be overcome?
In our response, our concern was that, in seeking
to comply with regulations, BT (and other utilities) might be
identified as "public authorities" and therefore exposed
to accusations of breach of the Human Rights Act.
Looking at it further, we don't think that this
would be the effect of Clause 25 of the draft Bill. Nevertheless,
greater certainty in this respect would be welcome, because we
would be acting in circumstances where a swift and certain response
is absolutely essential.
We have a concern anyway that regulations under
the Bill might infringe the Human Rights Act in so far as they
permitted the requisition etc of property without compensation.
If regulations which infringed human rights could not effectively
be challenged, that would be a cause for concern.