19 March 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.
DRAFT REGULATORY REFORM (SCHEMES UNDER
SECTION 129 OF THE HOUSING ACT 1988) (ENGLAND) ORDER 2003
On 10 December 2002, the Government laid before Parliament
a proposal for a draft Regulatory Reform (Schemes under Section
129 of the Housing Act 1988) (England) Order 2003, together with
a Statement by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM).
We reported on the Government's proposals on 29 January 2003.
Section 129 of the Housing Act 1988 enables local
housing authorities in England and Wales to make schemes providing
for grants to assist the local authority's tenants to obtain other
accommodation (thereby enabling the local authority's accommodation
then to be made available to those in greater need). The purpose
of the order, which is to apply to England only, is to remove
the requirement for local authorities (in England) to obtain the
approval of the Secretary of State to operate such schemes.
In our earlier Report, we noted that the proposal
as laid before Parliament would extend to England and Wales but
that textual amendments made to section 129 would re-state the
existing position for Wales. We took the view that this would
have the effect of re-enacting the requirement for approval (by
the National Assembly for Wales) and that section 1(1)(b) of the
Regulatory Reform Act 2001 therefore applied. Section 1(1)(b)
states that where re-enactment has the effect of imposing a burden,
then the burden must be proportionate to the benefit which is
expected to result from the re-enactment. We invited the ODPM
to provide further details of the proportionate benefit. In response,
the ODPM proposed a redrafted version of the order which would
have the same effect as the original proposal but would avoid
making a provision which could be construed as a re-enactment
in respect of Wales. We concluded, in our Report, that the problem
which we had identified was removed by the changes contained in
the redrafted order and recommended that the changes should be
made. These changes now appear in the order currently before Parliament.
The Regulatory Reform Committee in the House of Commons
also raised this issue in their report on the original proposal.
In our first Report on this proposal, we concluded
that, save for the recommendation that the proposal should be
amended in accordance with the redrafted version referred to in
paragraph 3 above, it was appropriate to be made under the Regulatory
Reform Act 2001. We remain of this view, and therefore recommend
that the order, as it now stands, is in a form satisfactory to
be submitted to the House for affirmative resolution.
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
10th Report, HL Paper 46, Session 2002-03. Back
7th Report, HC 436, Session 2002-03. Back