Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Thirteenth Report


Memorandum by the Privy Council Office


  1. The Joint Committee has asked for a memorandum on five points on the set of rules appended to the Order referred to above.

The First point:

    "Verify the reference in rule 5(5) to "paragraph (4)(b)(ii)". Should it not be a reference to "paragraph (4)(c)(ii)"?

  2. This is a drafting error. The General Medical Council ("GMC") confirm that the reference should be to "(4)(c)(ii)".

The Second point:

    "Explain the intended sense of the opening words of Rule 6(2) and indicate whether (and if so what) words are omitted before `the Registrar shall - '.

  3. The word `and' should appear before the words `the Registrar shall'. Following this correction, the introductory words appear to be clear. The version of the Rules appended to the Order signed by the Clerk to the Council was, in fact, correct. This error occurred at the printing stage and will therefore be corrected by the issue of a correction slip.

The Third point:

    Rules 17(10) and 18 requires the case co-ordinator to draw up requirements for practitioners to comply with as respects their practices. What statutory provision authorises this to be done by the case co-ordinator (as distinct from the Committee on Professional Performance)?".

  4. The statutory provision relied upon is paragraph 5A(2)(c) of Schedule 4 to the Medical Act 1983 (as inserted by paragraph 20 of the Schedule to the Medical (Professional Performance) Act 1995). This provision allows the General Medical Council to make rules specifying the procedures to be followed following the making of a report by an Assessment Panel. The "Statement of Requirements" drawn up by the case co-ordinator represents the action to be taken by the doctor which, if agreed by him, will avert a reference to the Committee on Professional Performance. The intention is that, if a doctor agrees to comply with measures contained in the Statement of Requirements, then he can be dealt with in a manner which avoids the need to refer his case to the Committee on Professional Performance which is seen by the GMC as a "last resort". Paragraph 1(2B)(a) of Schedule 4 to he Medical Act 1983 (as inserted by paragraph 16 of the Schedule to the Medical (Professional Performance) Act 1995), contains a case where a matter must be referred to the Committee on Professional Performance. This provision is however not exhaustive. In circumstances where a doctor does not agree the contents of any Statement of Requirements drawn up by the case co-ordinator, then his case must be referred, at that stage, to that Committee. The intention is that where questions relating to a doctor's performance cannot be dealt with in a "consensual" way, then the case co-ordinator will have no choice but to place the matter before the Committee.

The Fourth point:

    "Rule 31(1) authorises service of documents on any person by registered post or by the recorded delivery service. Rule 31(2) authorises service by ordinary post "in any other circumstances". Explain the "circumstances" in which Rule 31(1) applies and the (other) circumstances in which Rule 31(2) applies".

  5. Rule 31(1) deals with notices or documents which are required to be served on any person or body pursuant to any provision of the Rules. Rule 31(2) is intended to deal with the situation where there is no duty on the General Medical Council to serve a document, but they do so for another reason. So, for example, a notice of referral referred to in paragraph 3 of Schedule 1 to the Rules will be sent in accordance with Rule 31(1). However, other sorts of documents such as transcripts (see paragraph 12(2) of Schedule 1 to the Rules) and routine correspondence will simply be sent by post in the normal way pursuant to Rule 31(2).

The Fifth point:

    "In paragraph 8(6)(b) of Schedule 1, should not `their' be `his' (viz the specialist adviser's own motion); and is not `but' omitted before `for such advice'?"

  6. As to the word "their", we confirm that this is a drafting error and should read "his". We also confirm that the word "but" has been accidentally omitted in the printed version of the rules but did appear in the version of the Rules appended to the Order signed by the Clerk to the Council, and will therefore be dealt with by the issue of a correction slip.

  7. The General Medical Council inform us that they regret the drafting errors referred to above and intend to remedy them at the first available opportunity. It is also regretted that the errors were not detected during the approval process. We are grateful to the Committee for drawing them to our attention.

12th November 1997

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Prepared 19 December 1997