At its meeting on 15 July 2020 the Committee scrutinised a number of instruments in accordance with Standing Orders. It was agreed that the special attention of both Houses should be drawn to two of those considered. The instruments and the grounds for reporting them are given below. The relevant departmental memoranda are published as appendices to this report.
1.1The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to these Regulations on the ground that they make unusual or unexpected use of the enabling power in one respect.
1.2These Regulations specify the content of the form to be used for the canvass in Northern Ireland. Regulation 4(3) states that where the person in relation to whom the canvass form is completed is unable to read that person must arrange for the declaration mentioned in regulation 4(2) to be read out to him or her. That declaration includes (at paragraph (c)) a confirmation from the person who is unable to read that regulation 4(3) has been complied with. The Committee asked the Northern Ireland Office to explain how the duty imposed by regulation 4(3) is intended to be monitored and enforced. In a memorandum printed at Appendix 1, the Department explains that canvass forms will make it clear that the declaration must be read aloud to those who cannot read, that the person who cannot read must declare that the requirement has been complied with and that it is an offence to provide false information to the registration officer. However, the Department accepts that it may be difficult to detect false declarations under regulation 4(2)(c). Given that a person who is unable to read is unlikely to be made aware of this duty where it is not complied with and in any event has no way of knowing whether the declaration has been read properly, the Committee considers this a pointless and unenforceable duty. A better approach would have been to require the person reading out the declaration to make a separate declaration that they have read it (which could then be enforced by way of the offence of providing false information). The Committee accordingly reports regulation 4 for unusual or unexpected use of the enabling power.
2.1The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to this Order of Council on the ground that it fails to comply with proper legislative practice in one respect.
2.2This Order amends the General Osteopathic Council Rules to provide for service of documents by email. The Order was laid before Parliament on 17 June 2020. The Committee asked the Department of Health and Social Care to identify the provision that makes this instrument subject to any Parliamentary procedure. In a memorandum printed at Appendix 2, the Department confirms that there is no such provision and regrets that the instrument was laid before Parliament in error. The Committee accordingly reports this Order for failure to comply with proper legislative practice, acknowledged by the Department.
Published: 17 July 2020