Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Thirty-Seventh Report


Memorandum by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food


The Committee has requested in its letter of 3 June a memorandum on the following points.

1.  Regulation 8(1), which makes the specified offences triable either way, that is, summarily or on indictment, expresses the penalty (as regard summary conviction) as a fine not exceeding "level 5 on the standard scale" and (as regards conviction on indictment) as a fine "not exceeding the statutory maximum". Ought not -

    a.  the maximum fine on summary conviction to have been expressed in terms of the statutory maximum;

    b.  the words (in relation to conviction on indictment) "not exceeding the statutory maximum" to have been omitted?

The Ministry acknowledges that, for instruments made under the powers in section 2(2) of the European Communities Act 1972, the creation of fines for offences which are triable either way is governed by section 54(4) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and that the maximum fine which may be authorised is "the statutory maximum". It also acknowledges that in relation to conviction on indictment the words the statutory maximum should have been omitted. The Ministry undertakes to correct the error at the first appropriate opportunity which, it is hoped, will be later this year, when the Regulations which designate the Nitrate Vulnerable Zones are amended.

2.  Paragraph 15 of the Schedule to these Regulations (retention of record of events, such as the use on the farm fields of fertilisers) provides that "any record . . . shall be retained for a period of 5 years after the latest event recorded therein". Is it intended that the entry of each new event prolongs the period of 5 years as regards earlier entries of events which, when the new event is entered, come to be more than 5 years old?

The requirements in the Regulations for an occupier of a farm to make and retain records for a period of five years is to allow the enforcement authority (the Environment Agency) both to identify specific events, such as a particular application of fertiliser, as well as to develop an overall picture of the nitrate management on the farm and any trends in nitrate use.

It is not intended that the requirement to retain any record "for a period of 5 years after the latest event recorded therein" should, after the entry of each new event, prolong the period of five years as regards earlier entries. This may, however, be the practical effect in some cases, for example where the record is maintained in a ledger which spans several years. However, in cases where the record is maintained in such a way that earlier entries (those more than 5 years old) can be deleted, they may be.

3.  The Ministry is asked to provide 25 copies of the farmer guidelines booklet or latest draft of the booklet referred to in their voluntary memorandum. If this booklet is not yet in draft, provide a statement of its expected contents.

Enclosed, as requested, are 25 copies of the draft booklet "Guidelines for Farmers in NVZs".

This memorandum has been agreed with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and the Welsh Office.

8th June 1998

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1998
Prepared 29 June 1998