Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Eighth Report


3 MARCH 1999

By the Select Committee appointed to report whether the provisions of any bill inappropriately delegate legislative power, or whether they subject the exercise of legislative power to an inappropriate degree of parliamentary scrutiny; to report on documents laid before Parliament under section 3(3) of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 and on draft orders laid under section 1(4) of that Act; and to perform, in respect of such documents and orders, the functions performed in respect of other instruments by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.



1.  The Department's memorandum gives a short account of the bill and the few powers it contains, none of which is controversial. One of the main provisions in the bill is a prohibition on the disconnection of water supply to dwellings and some other premises for the non-payment of water charges.

Clause 5

2.  Clause 5 inserts a section in the Water Industry Act 1991 to enable the Secretary of State to make regulations concerning charges schemes. Regulations will be subject to negative procedure and the memorandum states that in the course of the bill's passage in the Commons, the Government gave undertakings to consult the Director General of Water Services, the industry and other interested parties on draft regulations under this clause. The Committee attaches considerable importance to such consultation.

Clauses 6 and 7

3.  These clauses insert sections in the 1991 Act which contain provisions for certain conditions to be "prescribed". The result will be that the conditions will be set out in regulations made by the Secretary of State and those regulations will be subject to negative procedure.


4.  Clause 14 deals with the application of the bill to Wales and Scotland. An Order in Council under section 22 of the Government of Wales Act 1998 which transfers functions conferred by or under the bill is made subject to negative procedure. The memorandum justifies this reduction from affirmative procedure by the argument that the decision of principle is taken when Parliament approves the clause, and the Committee accepts this argument. The bill also contains a simple commencement power.


5.   There is nothing in the bill which the Committee wishes to draw to the attention of the House.


6.  This bill is concerned with registration where the particulars are given in Welsh as well as English. The bill extends the existing power to make regulations under the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 - see clause 2 (new section 33(1) and (3)) and paragraphs 5 and 6 of the Schedule. Regulations under the 1953 Act deal with matters of detail and are not subject to Parliamentary control.

7.  The new section inserted in the 1953 Act by clause 2 also creates a new power to fix fees by order. This power is made subject to negative procedure (subsection (5))

8.  The bill also contains a simple commencement order power.

9.  There is nothing in the bill which the Committee wishes to draw to the attention of the House.


10.  This bill applies the Boundary Commission procedure for the review of constituencies to the Scottish Parliament constituencies. The bill contains no new powers but extends and modifies the existing power in the Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986 to give effect by Order in Council to recommendations of the Boundary Commission (see clause 1(4)). Such Orders in Council are subject to affirmative procedure.

11.  There is nothing in the bill which the Committee wishes to draw to the attention of the House.


12.  The Committee noted that this bill contains a provision requiring the Secretary of State to prepare guidelines relating to the granting of consent under the bill for the release or marketing of a genetically modified plant. It could be argued that this is a delegated power but as the bill provides, in effect, for affirmative procedure the Committee sees no need to draw it to the attention of the House.




13.  These bills contain no delegated legislative powers.[1]

1   This report is also published on the Internet at the House of Lords Select Committees Home Page (http:/, where further information about the work of the Committee is also available. Back

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