Regulation 7 - adequate consultation
1.21 The Department was asked whether any significant
amendments had been made to regulation 7 between the issue of
the draft Regulations for consultation in October 2002 and the
laying of the final draft before Parliament on 8 May 2003. The
Department has identified four amendments (set out in paragraph
11 of Appendix 2). It considered that three of these amendments
were either technical in nature or did not amount to significant
changes in substance which required further consultation.
1.22 In its memorandum the Department has set out
in greater detail its approach to consultation on the new regulation
7(3). The issue was
also explored in the Committee's examination of Departmental witnesses,
who explained that the decision to insert regulation 7(3) was
taken on the basis of evidence gathered during the course of the
three separate consultation exercises held on the draft regulations
in the period 2000 to 2003. These consultations generated almost
4,000 formal responses, and in addition a broad range of opinion
was gathered through informal discussions.
1.23 The Government has taken the view that the Regulations
should not interfere in matters of religious doctrine. The Department
stated that regulation 7(3) was therefore designed to address
comments received in response to the October 2002 consultation,
"when it became clear that the exception in regulation 7(2)
could cause practical difficulties in relation to employment for
the purposes of an organised religion."
Having taken the decision to insert the amendment, in line with
the Government's policy, the Department then met "a small
number of representatives from churches" to discuss how the
practical difficulties which had been identified could be addressed
within the scope of the Regulations.
1.24 While the Department has acknowledged that the
impact of regulation 7(3) would be important, it considered that
it would be strictly limited and would fall upon only a small
number of persons who were employed for the purposes of an organised
religion. It therefore
believed that no further consultation was necessary with those
likely to be adversely affected.
1.25 The Committee recognises that, in the Department's
view, an appropriate degree of consultation had already taken
place with those likely to be affected by the new regulation.
It also recognises the extensive consultations which have been
undertaken on the overall implementation of the Directive. But
as the Committee believes the precise extent of regulations 7(2)
and (3) is uncertain, it cannot share the Department's confidence
that regulation 7(3) will be strictly limited in its impact and
- The Committee considers that, in the light of
the uncertain effect of regulation 7(3), the Department would
have been prudent to undertake further consultation with representatives
of persons likely to be adversely affected by regulation 7(3)
before the draft Regulations were laid before Parliament.