Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Eleventh Report


ELEVENTH REPORT


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

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 for Education and Skills in connection with the Education (Pupil Exclusions and Appeals) (Maintained Schools) (England) Regulations 2002 (S.I. 2002/3178), and Education (Pupil Exclusions and Appeals) (Pupil Referral Units) (England) Regulations 2002 (S.I. 2002/3179) is printed at Appendix 1.

3. A memorandum from the Department for Transport in connection with the Street Works (Records) (England) Regulations 2002 (S.I. 2002/3217) is printed at Appendix 2.

OVERSEAS TERRITORIES (ZIMBABWE) (RESTRICTIVE MEASURES) (AMENDMENT) ORDER 2002 (S.I. 2002/2627)

TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS CONSTITUTION (AMENDMENT) ORDER 2002 (S.I. 2002/2637)

PITCAIRN (AMENDMENT) ORDER 2002 (S.I. 2002/2638)

4. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to these Orders on the ground that there was an unjustifiable delay in sending copies to the Committee.

5. S.I. 2002/2627 was laid before Parliament on 23 October 2002, and S.I. 2002/2637 and 2638 were laid on 4 November 2002, but copies were not sent to the Committee until 29 January 2003. The Committee asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to explain the reason for the delay. In recent years the Committee has twice reported similar failures by the FCO (31st Report of Session 1999-2000 and 8th Report of Session 2001-2002). In a memorandum dated 25 October 2002, printed at Appendix 2 to the latter Report, the FCO stated that "in future copies will be sent immediately upon receipt from the Stationery Office". The Committee also asked the FCO why it had not acted in accordance with that assurance.

6. In a memorandum printed at Appendix 3, the FCO states that the delay was the result of a misunderstanding of a letter of 23 May from the Secretary to the Committee concerning the Committee's requirements, and that the relevant officers have been reminded of the need to send copies of instruments to the Committee immediately upon receipt from the Stationery Office.

7. The Committee is far from satisfied by this response. The letter to which the FCO refers, which is also printed at Appendix3, plainly relates only to the supply of explanatory memoranda. The Committee is at a loss to see how it could have been interpreted as saying that copies of instruments need not be supplied to the Committee promptly. Given the FCO's record in this regard, the Committee gains little comfort from the assurance given in the latest memorandum.

8. We therefore once again remind the FCO, and all other Departments, that instruments should be sent to the Committee as soon as they are laid before Parliament, and we report these Orders for an unjustifiable delay in doing so on this occasion. The Chairman of the Committee has also written to the Foreign Secretary to draw his attention to the matter and to seek his assurance that steps are being taken to prevent further similar failures.


 
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