Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Twenty-First Report



TWENTY-FIRST REPORT


14 JUNE 2000


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.

ORDERED TO REPORT

ROYAL PARKS (TRADING) BILL

1.  This Bill does not create a new delegated legislative power but it affects an existing power to make regulations. Clause 1(1) provides that regulations under section 2 of the Parks Regulation (Amendment) Act 1926 may designate specified provisions of the regulations as park trading regulations. The bill increases the penalties for offences so designated and provides for the seizure, retention and disposal of hot-dog stands and similar equipment in the possession of the person suspected of committing such an offence.

2.  There is nothing in this Bill which the Committee wishes to draw to the attention of the House.


TELEVISION LICENCES (DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION) BILL

INTRODUCTION

3.  From 1 November any person aged over 75 will be entitled to a free television licence. The bill is intended to provide a way of checking that those who apply for a free licence are entitled to one. The Department of Social Security has a range of computerised records about individuals and can supply the BBC (or its agents) with an electronic copy of a data base containing the name, age, date of birth, address and NI number of persons aged 74 or over and to update this by recording deaths. With this information any application for a free licence can be checked. This would relieve most applicants of the need to submit documentary proof of age. However without the bill the information could not be provided to the BBC.

Orders

4.  Clause 1(3) and (4) leave the nature of the information which may be disclosed to the BBC to be prescribed by order.

5.  Clause 2 limits the use to which the information may be put to use "in connection with television licences for which no fee is payable or reduced-fee licences". The latter term is limited to licences for which a reduced fee is payable and which fall within a category prescribed by order.

6.  Clause 5 includes a definition of "prescribed" so creating the order-making power which is made subject to negative procedure by clause 6(2).

Recommendation

7.  The Committee considers that no amendment is necessary either to the delegated powers in the bill or to the parliamentary control provided for these powers.


SEA FISHING GRANTS (CHARGES) BILL

WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY (TELEVISION LICENCE FEES) BILL [HL]

HEALTH SERVICE COMMISSIONERS (AMENDMENT) BILL

LICENSING (YOUNG PERSONS) BILL

8.  None of these bills creates a new delegated legislative power.


REGULATION OF INVESTIGATORY POWERS BILL - GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

9.  The Committee reported on the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill in its 18th Report. The Government's response to the Committee's recommendations is set out in the Minister's letter printed in Annex 2 to this Report.

10.  In its comments on the powers in clauses 21(2)(h), 27(3)(g) and (5)(3) the Committee invited the House to consider whether those clauses should be amended to limit the apparently wide powers to correspond with the use that Ministers intended to make of them and added that, in any event, all the powers should be subject to affirmative procedure. The Government accept the latter recommendation but reject the first on the ground that the Human Rights Act 1998 effectively limits the powers. The Minister will be obliged to make a statement that an order is, in his view, compliant with that Act. The Committee sees affirmative procedure as giving appropriate Parliamentary control and does not wish to continue to press for amendments to the clauses.

11.  In its comments on the powers in clauses 24, 29 and 39 the Committee questioned the need for these powers to add other public authorities to the lists in the bill of those which may exercise particular investigatory powers and added that negative procedure was not appropriate for any of the powers (clause 39 is already subject to affirmative procedure). The Government accepts the case for affirmative procedure and proposes also to add to the bill lists of all those authorities which the Government intends at present to exercise the powers. However, the Government continues to see a need to add new authorities and does not propose to limit the amending powers to naming successor authorities when listed authorities are abolished or lose functions. The Committee sees this as an important issue and invites the House to press for such a limitation. The Committee cannot see why it is not possible to produce exhaustive lists now of existing authorities which are to have these investigatory powers. The House may also take the view that in deciding whether a particular investigatory power is acceptable it is essential to know who will be able to exercise it and an open-ended power to amend makes this impossible.[1]


1  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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