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Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Sixteenth Report


Memorandum by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions

Local Authorities (Referendums) (Petitions and Directions) (England)
(Amendment) Regulations 2001 (S.I. 2001/760)

1. The Joint Committee has requested a Memorandum on the following point—

    "Explain why regulation 1(1) provides for this instrument to come into force "immediately before 1st April 2001" (that is, at the last moment of 31 March), instead of on 31 March or 1 April so that the instrument would come into force at the beginning of the particular day chosen (see sections 4(a) and 23(1) of the Interpretation Act 1978)."

2. As the Joint Committee will observe, regulation 4(1) of the instrument amends regulation 4(6) and (7) of the Local Authorities (Referendums) (Petitions and Directions) (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000/2852). Regulation 4(6) of those Regulations provides—

    "(6) Subject to paragraph (7), the number published in any year after 2001 in accordance with paragraph (2) shall be used for verification purposes in relation to any petition submitted to the authority in the period of 12 months beginning with 1st April in that year."

The amendment to regulation 4(6) thus provides (as amended) for the number published in 2001 to have effect in relation to petitions submitted in the 12 month period beginning on 1 April 2001.

3. It has been the Department's experience that local government officers, who are not generally familiar with the application of section 4(a) of the Interpretation Act 1978 to subordinate legislation (via section 23(1) of that Act), are sometimes confused by amending provisions that are expressed to come into force on a 1 April, particularly where, as here, the provisions are relevant to periods that begin on that day. The Department therefore decided to bring the instrument into force at the last moment of 31 March, so as to avoid any (albeit unjustified) doubt as to the correct verification number in relation to petitions submitted in the 12 month period beginning on 1 April 2001.

27 April 2001

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