Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Twenty-Fourth Report


LEGAL DEPOSIT LIBRARIES BILL

Introduction

27.  This private member's bill is about the extension to non-print material of the arrangements for deposit of publications in certain libraries. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has provided a memorandum for the Committee on the delegated powers. The memorandum is printed at Annex 4 to this Report.

The Delegated Powers

28.  There are delegated powers at clauses 1(3) and (4), 2(2)(b) and (3), 6, 7(3) and (4), 8 (new section 44A(3) and (4)), 10(5) and (8) and 16. All of the powers except those at clauses 8 (negative procedure) and 16 (no procedure - commencement order) are subject to the affirmative procedure. Clauses 11 to 13 set out various conditions subject to which the powers to make regulations conferred in the bill on the Secretary of State may be exercised. In particular: clause 11(4) imposes a proportionality test (costs to publishers/benefit to public) which must be satisfied before regulations may be made under clauses 1(4), 2 or 6; clause 11(5) imposes a "no unreasonable prejudice to publishers" test which must be satisfied before regulations may be made under clauses 1(4), 2, 6, 7, or 10(5); in certain circumstances the Scottish Ministers or the National Assembly for Wales must either consent to the making of the regulations (clause 12(1) and (4)) or be consulted before they are made (clause 12(3) and (5)); and in every case, both the deposit libraries and the publishers must be consulted.

29.  Although in most instances we take the view that the delegations are appropriate and subject to an appropriate level of Parliamentary scrutiny, two issues arise to which the Committee wishes to draw the attention of the House.

Clause 1

30.  Clause 1(4) is central to the bill. It enables regulations by the Secretary of State to specify the non-printed works to which the Act will apply. The reasons why the works are not listed in the bill itself are given at paragraphs 5, 6 and 15 of the memorandum from DCMS - essentially, a list would soon be out of date and a phased implementation is intended in the light of consultation. Given the affirmative procedure provided and the other safeguards (set out in paragraph 28 above), we take the view that the approach adopted is reasonable and appropriate.

31.  HOWEVER, WE DRAW TO THE ATTENTION OF THE HOUSE THE FACT THAT THERE IS NO INDICATION IN THE BILL (APART FROM THE EXCLUSION OF FILMS AND SOUND RECORDINGS AT CLAUSE 1(5)) OF THE NON-PRINT MATERIAL TO WHICH IT MAY APPLY. ALTHOUGH THE MEMORANDUM (PARAGRAPH 7) EXPLAINS THAT THERE ARE NO DRAFT REGULATIONS BECAUSE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF CONSULTATION BEFORE THE REGULATIONS ARE MADE, WE SUGGEST THAT THE HOUSE MAY WISH TO INVITE THE GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE A FULLER ACCOUNT OF ITS INTENTIONS AND TO INFORM THE HOUSE ABOUT THE PROPOSALS (IN THE FORM OF DRAFT REGULATIONS OR OTHERWISE) ON WHICH IT INTENDS TO CONSULT.

Clause 10

32.  Clause 10(1) and (3) provide that deposit libraries, persons acting on their behalf or publishers are not liable for damages, or criminally liable, in defamation for certain things done under the bill. Clause 10(5) and (6) makes special provision for material "harvested" by a deposit library from the internet as an alternative to requiring the publisher to deliver a copy. But again, the provision is limited to defamation.

33.  Clause 10(8) enables the Secretary of State to extend these exemptions applying to defamation to any liability in damages or any criminal liability described in regulations. Although we do not think the delegation to be inappropriate in this instance, we draw attention to the explanation of the need for the power given in paragraph 30 of the DCMS memorandum. WE SUGGEST THAT THE HOUSE MAY WISH TO INVITE THE GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE A FULLER ACCOUNT OF WHY THE PROVISION IN CLAUSE 10(8) IS NEEDED, AND OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH THE POWER MIGHT BE USED.

Conclusion

34.  WE DRAW TO THE ATTENTION OF THE HOUSE OUR SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER EXPLANATION MADE IN PARAGRAPHS 31 AND 33 ABOVE. THERE ARE NO FURTHER MATTERS IN RELATION TO THE DELEGATED POWERS IN THIS BILL ON WHICH WE WISH TO REPORT TO THE HOUSE.


 
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