Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Forty-Fifth Report




  1. The Committee has considered the instruments set out in the Annex to this Report and has determined that the special attention of both Houses does not require to be drawn to any of them.

  2. A letter from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in connection with the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 (Specified Organisations) Order 1998 is printed in Appendix I to this Report. The Order was approved by both Houses and made before it was considered by the Committee.


  3. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to these Regulations on the ground that they require elucidation.

  Regulation 5(1) disapplies, for workboats which comply with the Code of Practice on the safety of small workboats and pilot boats, the statutory instruments listed in the schedule to the Regulations, but it makes this disapplication "subject to the provisions of the relevant paragraphs of the Code of Practice". The Committee was unclear as to the meaning of the words quoted, and asked the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to explain their purpose and effect, with an example of a relevant paragraph. In a memorandum printed in Appendix II the Department explain that the purpose of the quoted words is to make clear that despite the disapplication of the statutory instruments certain requirements of the Code operate by reference to provisions of these instruments: these requirements are not affected by the disapplication in regulation 5(1). They give the example of paragraph 15.2 of the Code, which makes provision for fixed fire extinguishing systems and refers to certain of the instruments listed in the Schedule. The Committee accepts that regulation 5(1) is not defectively drafted, but thinks that it would have been clearer if drafted along the lines of "Except where the Code of Practice applies them, the statutory instruments ... shall not apply...". The Committee reports regulation 5(1) as requiring elucidation.


  4. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to this Order on the ground that there was an unjustifiable delay in laying the instrument before Parliament.

  This instrument was made on 22nd June but not laid before Parliament until 14 July. The Committee asked the Scottish Office to explain the delay. They give the same explanation for this instrument (printed in Appendix III) as for two instruments reported on for the same reason in our last report [2], namely that it was to avoid the "unnecessary" cost of providing typescript copies of the instruments before the final printed version became available. "Time was taken" for the signed typescript versions of the instruments to be passed to the Scottish Office Clerk; they were then numbered before being passed to The Stationery Office for printing; "this process took 3 weeks". As with S.I.s 1998/1497 and 1998/1498, the Committee does not find the Department's explanation acceptable. As we have already noted, Departments should lay transcript version of instruments when not to do so would prevent laying for this length of time. This is made clear in Statutory Instrument Practice Circular No. 3 (98), issued on 3 August, which says in paragraph 7 that where "it is not possible for printed copies [of instruments] to be available on the date of laying then departments have a responsibility to ensure that photocopies of the corrected final proof ... are provided" to both Houses of Parliament. The Committee reports the Order on the ground of unjustifiable delay in laying it before Parliament.


  5. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to these Regulations on the ground that they are defectively drafted.

  Regulation 2(7)(a) of these Regulations amends regulation 6(1) of the 1968 Regulations by substituting the words "shall not grant a licence in respect of a performance by a child" for the words "shall not grant a licence in respect of a child". Unamended, regulation 6(1) provided that:

      "a licensing authority shall not grant a licence —

  (a)  in respect of a child who has obtained the age of 13 ...

  (b)  in respect of a child who has not obtained the age of 13 ..."

Given that the words "in respect of a child" appear in both (a) and (b), the Committee asked the Department to explain how the amendment in regulation 2(7)(a) fits the structure and wording of regulation 6(1) of the 1968 Regulations. The Department agree in a memorandum printed in Appendix IV that the amendment to regulation 6(1) does not sit easily with the two subparagraphs (a) and (b). They also agree that the intended result could have been better achieved by substituting "performance by a child" for "child" in subparagraphs (a) and (b), as the Committee suggested. The Department contend that the purpose of the amendment is clear, but that they will bear in mind the Committee's point in the event that the Regulations are amended. The Committee expects the Department to correct the error when the Regulations are next amended. The Committee reports regulation 2(7)(a) for defective drafting, acknowledged by the Department.

1   The Orders of Reference of the Committee are set out in the First Report, Session 1997-98 (HL Paper 4; HC 33-i). Back

2   44th Report, Session 1997-98 (HL Paper 148, HC 33-xliv): report on Education (Assisted Places) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1998 (S.I. 1998/1497) and St Mary's Music School (Aided Places) Amendment Regulations 1998 (S.I. 1998/1498). Back

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