Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Thirteenth Report


Memorandum from the Northern Ireland Office


1. The Department wishes to draw the Committee's attention to the fact that the laying of these Regulations is in breach of the 21 day rule.

2. The 21 day rule has been breached in this instance due to an administrative error. This resulted in a delay in the printing of the Regulations, with the result that they are being laid 17 days before they come into force rather than 21.

3. The department appreciates that the coming into force date of instruments should be set, wherever possible, so as to build in sufficient leeway into the timetable so that minor administrative errors do not lead to the 21 day rule being breached. The department regrets that the timetable was not so framed in this case and apologies for this breach.

5 November 2001

Further Memorandum from the Northern Ireland Office


1. Following its meeting on the 26th November the Committee has requested the Department to submit a memorandum on the following point:

Elaborate on the reasons for the failure to comply with the 21 day rule, and explain why the new system, which the Department has informed the Committee it has introduced to prevent such errors, did not do so on this occasion.

2. As the Department explained in its memorandum of the 5th November these Regulations were laid in breach of the 21-day rule due to an administrative error. The Regulations were made on the 22nd October. This should have enabled them to be laid on the 1st November so as to comply with the 21-day rule. Unfortunately on the 25th October a minor error was noticed in the version to be printed and the printers were asked to remedy this error. The Department was told that this would delay printing by a day or two, but in the event it delayed the receipt of the copies of the Regulations for laying by a week. The Regulations were not received in the Department until the 1st November (the date by which they should have been laid to comply with the 21-day rule) and were not laid until the following Monday, the 5th (this further delay was attributable to the need to get the Regulations from Northern Ireland to London). The administrative error to which the Department refers in its first memorandum was the sending of Regulations for printing which contained a minor error. This was compounded by the failure on the part of those responsible for the Regulations to realise that the printing of the Regulations had been further delayed. If this oversight had not occurred steps could have been taken to rectify the situation.

3. The Committee refer to the Department's new system for processing Statutory Instruments. This system had been brought to the attention of those involved in the processing of these Regulations. Despite this the breach of the 21-day rule occurred due to the delay in receipt of the printed Regulations and oversight mentioned above.

30 November 2001

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