Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Twenty-Third 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 memorandum by the Department for Education and Employment concerning the Education (Student Support) (European Institutions) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000/1407) is printed in Appendix 1.

  3. A memorandum by the Department of Health on the Medicines (Aristolochia and Mu Tong etc.) (Temporary Prohibition) Order 2000 (S.I. 2000/1368) is printed in Appendix 2.

  4. A memorandum by the Treasury in connection with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Freezing of Funds and Prohibition on Investment) (Amendment) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000/1367) is printed in Appendix 3).

  5. A memorandum by the Northern Ireland Office in connection with the Census Order (Northern Ireland) 2000 (S.R. 2000/168) is printed in Appendix 4.


  6. The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to these Regulations on the grounds that they require the elucidation provided and that, in one respect, the Merchant Shipping (Survey and Certification) (Amendment) Regulations 2000 are defectively drafted.

  7. Both these sets of regulations are concerned with the safety of shipping. The Merchant Shipping (Survey and Certification) (Amendment) Regulations 2000 ("the certification regulations") implement the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS). The Merchant Shipping (Load Line) (Amendment) Regulations ("the load line regulations") amend the Merchant Shipping (Load Line) Regulations of 1998 to incorporate the amendments made to the International Convention on Load Lines 1966 by the Protocol of 1988 relating to the International Convention on Load Lines. Shipping Law requires that ships must have a certificate of safety to go to sea. A certificate is obtained following a survey and is valid for a specified period of time. In most circumstances a renewed certificate must follow-on without a break from the previous certificate. The Committee asked the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions what were the "special circumstances" envisaged in both the certification regulations and the load line regulations which would permit the alteration of the normal date of commencement of the new certificate.

  8. In the memoranda printed in Appendices 5 and 6, the Department explains that the type of circumstances envisaged are those in which a ship undergoes repairs or re-fitting for a period of several months during which the existing certificate expires. In such a case the new certificate could be dated from the date of completion of the renewal survey rather than the date of expiry of the previous certificate. Other such circumstances would be where a ship underwent a major re-fit or reconstruction which lasted several months or where a ship was laid-up out of commission for a number of months or years and required a renewal survey on re-commissioning. The Department points out that the expression "special circumstances" is derived from the SOLAS Convention 1974 but is not defined in that Convention. In drafting the regulations the Department were concerned not to attempt their own definition. We accept this view and note that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency would discuss with shipowners any case to which the Agency would apply the special circumstances exception but are concerned that the phrase should be explained as fully as possible to assist those to whom the regulations apply. We accordingly report these regulations for requiring the elucidation provided.

  9. The Committee were also concerned by the use of the words "except in special circumstances" in new regulation 13(3) of the certification regulations: the words seem to be applicable to more than one of the circumstances specified in paragraph (3) thus rendering the paragraph ambiguous. The departmental memorandum printed in appendix 5 confirms our view that the drafting does not make it clear which set of circumstances are the ones to which the exception applies. We therefore report regulation 13(3) of the Merchant Shipping (Survey and Certification) (Amendment) Regulations for defective drafting.

1   The Orders of Reference of the Committee are set out in the First Report, Session 1999-2000 (HL Paper 4; HC 47-i). Back

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