Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Twenty-Fourth Report



TWENTY-FOURTH REPORT


12 July 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.

DRAFT DEREGULATION (MILLENNIUM LICENSING) ORDER 1999

INTRODUCTION

1. The Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 provides a two-stage process for the parliamentary scrutiny of deregulation orders. A document containing the proposal is laid under section 3(3) of the Act in the form of a draft of the order, together with explanatory material; and we and the Commons equivalent committee have 60 days in which to consider and report on it. The Government then lay under section 1(4) of the Act a draft order, either in its original form or amended to take account of the two committees' views, for approval by resolution of each House. In the Lords a motion to approve a draft order can only be moved after we have made a second report on it.[1]

2. The proposal for the Draft Deregulation (New Year Licensing) Order 1999 was laid before Parliament under section 3(3) of the 1994 Act on 13 April, and would have allowed registered clubs and licensed premises to serve drinks throughout the night of each New Year's Eve. We reported on the proposal in our 18th report, dated 16 June 1999.[2]

THE COMMITTEE'S 18TH REPORT

3. Our conclusions on the stage one proposal were as follows:

    "In an unprecedented situation, it is difficult to come to a firm conclusion as to whether necessary protection would be maintained under the proposal. We have concluded that, in order to guarantee necessary protection, in so far as this is possible, that in laying the second stage deregulation order before Parliament the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Health should justify the Government's claim that the emergency services will be able to cope with the likely effects of the deregulation order over the Millennium period.

    Furthermore, we consider that Parliament does not have sufficient evidence to agree to the deregulation proposal for each New Year to come. We accordingly recommend that the draft order be amended so that it applies to the Millennium New Year's Eve only. In the light of this experience consideration could then be given to a further deregulation proposal applying the extended licensing hours to all future New Years."

4. We also suggested that there would be no need for "restriction orders" if the proposal were limited to the Millennium New Year's Eve,[3] although we did not formally recommend the amendment of the draft Order to that effect.

THE GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE

5. The Government has amended (and renamed) the draft Order so that it applies to the Millennium Eve only. The Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Health have provided the assurances which we had requested that in their view the emergency services will be able to cope with the likely effects of the relaxation of the licensing laws during this 36-hour period. These statements are annexed to the Statement by the Home Office accompanying the present draft Order. The Committee attaches considerable importance to these statements, and is grateful to the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Health for providing them.

6. The draft Order has thus been amended as we recommended, with the exception of our suggestion that the provision for restriction orders was unnecessary for an Order relating to the Millennium Eve only. In amending the draft Order the Government has retained the provision for restriction orders, but omitted the power to revoke or vary such orders and the provision as to their duration. We are satisfied with this approach.

CONCLUSION

7. The Committee reports that the draft order is now in a form satisfactory to be submitted to the House for affirmative resolution.

8. We are required by our terms of reference to perform, in respect of documents and orders laid under section 1(4) of the 1994 Act, the functions performed in respect of other instruments by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. The Committee has concluded that there is nothing in the draft order which the Joint Committee would have needed to draw to the attention of each House.

DRAFT DEREGULATION (CASINOS) ORDER 1999

9. The proposal for the Draft Deregulation (Casinos) Order 1999 was laid before Parliament under section 3(3) of the 1994 Act on 19 April 1999. We reported on the proposal in our 20th report, dated 23 June 1999.[4] The proposal was acceptable to us in the form in which it was laid, without amendment.

10. The Committee reports that the draft order is in a form satisfactory to be submitted to the House for affirmative resolution.

11. We are required by our terms of reference to perform, in respect of documents and orders laid under section 1(4) of the 1994 Act, the functions performed in respect of other instruments by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. The Committee has concluded that there is nothing in the draft order which the Joint Committee would have needed to draw to the attention of each House.[5]


1  Standing Order 70(1)(b). Back
2  HL Paper 73. Back
3  Paragraph 34. Back
4  HL Paper 76. Back
5  This report is also published on the Internet at the House of Lords Select Committee Home Page (http://www.parliament.uk), where further information about the work of the Committee is also available. Back

 
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