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Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Eighth Report


Second Memorandum by the Department of Trade and Industry

REGULATIONS 1998 (S.I. 1998/3170)

The Committee considered the above instrument at its meeting on 26 January and requested the submission of a further memorandum on three points —

(1)  Regulation 2(2) provides that expressions used in both the Regulations and in the Directive (O.J. No. L24, 30.1.98, p. 1) shall have the same meaning in the Regulations as they have in the Directive "except where the context otherwise requires". An explanation of the significance of that exception was sought.

Point (1)

The Directive contains a number of provisions which contain references to "lines"; see articles 3.2, 8 and 9(b). It seems clear that the expression "line" is intended to mean any link over which a call is transmitted, whether or not that link is a line within the natural meaning of that expression. The definition of "public telecommunications network" in article 2 is in terms of the conveyance of signals "by wire, by radio, by optical or by other electromagnetic means" and article 3.1 contains a reference to mobile networks which necessarily rely upon radio links. Only the conveyance of signals by wire, or, probably, by fibre-optic cable, would appear to be conveyance by line within its natural meaning. And "line" is defined in terms reflecting its natural meaning in paragraph 1(1) of Schedule 2 to the Telecommunications Act 1984 (c. 12). It was considered helpful to make explicit that "line" in the Regulations has the wider meaning and includes any relevant link and, accordingly, express provision is made in regulation 2(3) to the effect that a reference to a line includes a reference to anything which functionally corresponds to a line. Regulation 2(3) demonstrates the need for the words "except where the context otherwise requires" in regulation 2 (2) since "line" in paragraph (3) has its natural meaning.

(2)  Regulation 4(1) states that a consent or notification is, so long as it remains in force, to "have effect according to its tenor". An explanation of the purpose and effect of, and the necessity for, that provision was sought.

Point (2)

The words in regulation 4(1) "so long as it remains in force, shall have effect according to its tenor" should be read together. If those words had been omitted it is submitted that it would be arguable for example, that a notification given for the purposes of regulation 6(2), regulation 7(3) or (4)(a) or regulation 9(3) or (4)(a), once given, remained effective for all time. The purpose of the words referred to above is to make it clear, beyond argument, that a notification only has effect so long as it has not ceased to be in force by being withdrawn or otherwise.

(3)  The effect of the amendment to section 1(6) of the Telecommunications Act 1984 made by paragraph 1 of the Schedule 1 to the Regulations is that the Director General of Telecommunications' expenses in consequence of the Regulations will fall to be paid out of money provided by Parliament. It was asked whether those expenses would be significant in amount.

Point (3)

The outgoings of the Director in consequence of regulations 7 and 9 are likely to be of significant amounts. But they should be more or less completely offset by receipts of fees, in view of the provisions of regulations 7(5) and 9(5). Any net expenses in consequence of regulations 7 and 9 should therefore not be significant. The only other provisions of the Regulations which could give rise to expenditure by the Director are regulations 14 and 15. The Director's staff are of the opinion that, in the first year, that expenditure is unlikely to exceed £5,000 and in all probability will be considerably less.

1st February 1999

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