Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Twenty-Fifth Report


12 JULY 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.



1. This Private Member's Bill, introduced by Lord Lester of Herne Hill, does not contain delegated powers[1] but the Government proposes to table amendments which include such a power. The Memorandum submitted to the Committee by the Lord Chancellor's Department is printed at Annex 1.

2. The Bill is intended to provide assistance, under the existing law on divorce, to Jewish women denied a religious divorce. It will apply whether or not the marriage according to the usages of the Jews created the marriage which our courts are asked to end and so will apply, for example, to a marriage created by a civil ceremony in, say, France but where the parties were also married according to the usages of the Jews. The Bill does not apply to marriages according to the usages of other religions which have procedures for granting divorces and so might be thought to discriminate on grounds of religion (paragraph 6 of the Memorandum) although no other religious group has asked that the Bill should be applied to them.

3. The amendment to page 1, line 13, inserting a new subsection allows the Lord Chancellor to extend the bill by order to marriages according to religious usages of a kind prescribed in the order "where the parties are required to co-operate if the marriage is to be dissolved in accordance with those usages". An order will be subject to negative procedure.

4. The amendment to page 1, line 23, inserting new subsections which extend the existing power to make rules of court to allow procedural provisions to be made about declarations under the bill.


5. The Committee sees nothing in these amendments which it wishes to draw to the attention of the House.


6. The Committee was informed[2] by the Department of Trade and Industry that the Government had tabled an amendment to clause 122 of the bill which governs the use of orders etc.

7. The amendment sought to delete the three words "laid before and" from line 43 of page 72 of the latest print of the Bill. Its aim was to remove an uncertainty that might have otherwise arisen from the interaction between subsection (10) of clause 122 of the Bill and section 6(1) of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946. One of the purposes behind subsection (10) is to enable provisions which can, by themselves, be made under the negative resolution procedure to be included in an order with provisions that have to be approved by the affirmative procedure. Such a "combined order" is then subject to the affirmative procedure. That remains the Government's intention. But the view was subsequently taken that the words that the amendment removed were unnecessary and could have, on one interpretation, the unintended and unwanted effect of requiring orders under the Bill following the negative procedure to be laid in draft for forty days before being made. This was not the Government's intention, and as the subsection otherwise makes clear, such orders were intended to be subject to the normal negative procedure. The amendment removed this uncertainty and clarified the position.


8. The Committee was unable to report on this amendment before it was agreed but thought it would be helpful to report retrospectively that we see it as a "drafting" amendment which would not in any event have called for comment by the Committee.


9. The Government's response to the Committee's 22nd report[3] is printed in Annex 2.[4]

1  We reported that this was the case in our 19th report of this session, HL Paper 74. Back
2  On 11 July, the day of third reading. The amendment was tabled on 10 July. Back
3  HL Paper 83. Back
4  This report is also published on the Internet at the House of Lords Select Committee Home Page (, where further information about the work of the Committee is also available. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2000