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


22 OCTOBER 2003

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 and draft orders laid before Parliament under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001; and to perform, in respect of such documents and orders and subordinate provisions orders laid under that Act, the functions performed in respect of other instruments by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments[1].




1.  The Committee reported on this bill in our 2nd, 7th and 18th Reports of this Session (HL Papers 20, 36 and 102). The Committee has now been invited to comment on amendments which have been made in the Commons and are now before the House for consideration. The Department for Constitutional Affairs has provided a supplementary memorandum which is printed at Annex 1 to this Report.


2.  In almost every instance the delegations under the amendments are, in our view, appropriate and subject to an appropriate level of Parliamentary scrutiny. We wish, however, to draw to the attention of the House the level of scrutiny (negative procedure) which applies to provision relating to regulations governing the setting of the "prescribed hourly sum" under paragraph 1(2) of the new Schedule entitled "Discharge of fines of unpaid work" (Amendment 24 of the Commons Amendments).

3.  Under the provision, the Lord Chancellor has power to make regulations to prescribe the "hourly sum". The "prescribed hourly sum" will determine the rate at which the work set by a work order will discharge the fine imposed on an offender. The number of hours of work that an offender must perform will be determined by dividing the amount of a fine by the "prescribed hourly sum". Therefore, the lower the "hourly sum", the higher the number of hours to be worked.

4.  The new Schedule gives no indication of the basis on which the "hourly sum" will be set. Given the significance of the "prescribed hourly sum" in determining the amount of work to be performed by an offender, we take the view that an indication of the principle to be applied by the Lord Chancellor in deciding the "prescribed hourly sum" should be explicitly stated on the face of the bill (by, for example, linking it to the hourly rate of the minimum wage if that were the policy intention). Alternatively, if such an indication cannot be specified in this way, then the regulations should, we believe, be subject to the affirmative procedure.


5.  We draw to the attention of the House the recommendation in paragraph 4 above. There is nothing else in these amendments in respect of the delegated powers on which we wish to report.

1   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

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