The JCHR recommendations
7. The JCHR's report reviews these procedures and
makes a number of proposals for changes. These are as follows:
(1) In calculating the 60-day periods under the
Act, no account is taken of any time during which both
Houses are adjourned for more than four days. Experience during
the summer recess of 2001 showed that judicial sittings of the
Lords significantly cut down the number of days when both Houses
were so adjourned: in other words, the clock kept running because
the Law Lords were sitting, even though the Commons was not sitting.
The time allowed for effective scrutiny in the Commons was thus
much reduced. The JCHR recommends that the Act should be amended
to stop the statutory period running when either House
is adjourned for more than four days. This would be in line with
the wording used in the Deregulation and Contracting-out Act 1994
and subsequently the Regulatory Reform Act.
(2) The JCHR concludes that the second of the
60-day periods (between laying of a draft order and its approval
by resolution) is not necessary. It recommends that the Act should
be amended to allow a draft order to be approved at any time after
it is laid, provided that Commons standing orders are also
amended to ensure that no approval motion can be moved in that
House until the JCHR has reported on the draft order (which it
would have to do within the required statutory period). The Procedure
Committee has in the past repeatedly urged that standing orders
be amended to included a similar provision in relation to approval
motions in general, i.e. that no decision on a statutory instrument
should be taken by the House until the Joint Committee on Statutory
Instruments (JCSI) has reported on it.
(3) Likewise, the JCHR recommends that standing
orders should be amended to prevent a motion to approve an urgent-procedure
order being made before the JCHR has reported on it.
(4) The report draws attention to the fact that
Standing Order No. 18 sets out special procedure for approval
of a draft Deregulation or Regulatory Reform Order. It provides
that such orders must be approved on the floor of the House and
cannot be referred to standing committee, and imposes different
levels of procedure in consequence of different recommendations
from the Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Committee. No equivalent
provision is made in standing orders in relation to remedial orders.
The JCHR recommends that this should be done. In particular it
(a) if the JCHR so recommends, a remedial order
should be taken on the floor rather than in committee; and
(b) if the JCHR recommends against the approval
of a remedial order, the House would first have to resolve to
disagree with that recommendation, in a debate lasting no more
than three hours, before it could approve the order.
(5) Finally, the JCHR recommends that Commons
standing orders should be amended to exclude remedial orders from
consideration by the JCSI. This has already been done in Lords
standing orders, and would be a logical 'tidying up' change.
5 See Procedure Committee, Fourth Report of Session
1995-96, Delegated Legislation (HC 152), para 20, and First
Report of Session 1999-2000, Delegated Legislation (HC
48), paras 8, 21 and 55. Back