Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments Thirty-Second Report

Appendix 1

S.I. 2003/2553: memorandum from the Department of Trade and Industry

Electronic Communications Code (Conditions and Restrictions) Regulations 2003 (S.I. 2003/2553)

1. The above Regulations were laid on 3rd October 2003 and come into force on 23rd October. The Department is aware that this is a breach of the Committee's 21 day rule and that the Regulations should not have been provided to come into force before 24th October. This breach is a result of oversight on the Department's part. It therefore submits this memorandum to the Committee with its apologies.

2. The Regulations apply to operators of electronic communications networks who have been granted the powers contained in the Electronic Communications Code (which is contained in Schedule 2 to the Telecommunications Act 1984, as amended by the Communications Act 2003). They impose certain restrictions and conditions on the exercise of those powers, and broadly reflect exceptions and conditions to which such operators were previously subject by virtue of exceptions and conditions contained in licences granted under the 1984 Act. There are currently 165 such operators.

3. The Committee will no doubt be concerned that disadvantage will be caused to persons affected by the Regulations by this breach of the 21 day rule. The Department consulted on the Regulations whilst they were in draft form from 25th April 2003 to 19th June 2003. Changes were made to the Regulations in response to comments received during the consultation, which were discussed by the Department with representatives of some interested parties, as well as in response to a need to improve the drafting of the Regulations in places.

4. Given the period of consultation, and the dialogue that the Department has held with representatives of such operators, it is to be hoped that any disadvantage that could possibly be caused to parties affected by these Regulations by the Department's inadvertent breach of the 21 day rule will be minimal. We intend to use this as an opportunity to remind colleagues of the need to avoid breaches of the 21 day rule, in order to minimise the likelihood of a recurrence of this situation.

14th October 2003

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