Twenty-Seventh Report of Session 2019-21 Contents

Instruments reported

At its meeting on 15 October 2020 the Committee scrutinised an instrument in accordance with Standing Orders. It was agreed that the special attention of both Houses should be drawn to that instrument. The instrument and the grounds for reporting it are given below. The relevant departmental memorandum is published as an appendix to this report.

1S.I. 2020/1057: Reported for delay in sending a notification to the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the House of Lords (under the proviso to section 4(1) of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946) explaining why the Regulations were not laid before they came into force.

Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (North of England, North East and North West of England and Obligations of Undertakings (England) etc.) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

1.1The Committee draws the special attention of both Houses to these Regulations on the ground that there was a delay in sending a notification to the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the House of Lords (under the proviso to section 4(1) of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946) explaining why the Regulations were not laid before they came into force.

1.2These Regulations were made under the procedure in section 45R of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 under which affirmative procedure regulations may be made without a draft having been laid before, and approved by a resolution of, each House of Parliament where the Secretary of State is of the opinion that, by reason of urgency, it is necessary to do so.

1.3The Regulations were made on 29 September 2020. They came into force at 12:00 am on 30 September 2020. They were laid before Parliament at 10:30 am on 30 September 2020.

1.4Section 4(1) of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 provides that where a statutory instrument is required to be laid before Parliament after being made, a copy of it must be laid before the instrument comes into operation but this is subject to the following proviso:

Provided that if it is essential that any such instrument should come into operation before copies thereof can be so laid as aforesaid, the instrument may be made so as to come into operation before it has been so laid; and where any statutory instrument comes into operation before it is laid before Parliament, notification shall forthwith be sent to the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the House of Lords drawing attention to the fact that copies of the instrument have yet to be laid before Parliament and explaining why such copies were not so laid before the instrument came into operation.

1.5On 30 September 2020, the Minister of State for Patient Safety, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health duly wrote to the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the House of Lords, stating that:

As required under section 4(1) of the Statutory Instruments Act 1946, this letter explains why the Regulations are coming into force before they were laid”.

1.6The letter therefore drew attention to the fact that the Regulations came into force before they were laid and it went on to explain why it was considered necessary for the Regulations to come into force as soon as possible but it didn’t give any reason why the Regulations were not laid before they came into force.

1.7The Committee asked the Department for Health and Social Care to explain why the Regulations were not laid before they came into force. In a memorandum (printed at Appendix 1), the Department explains that the Regulations were not made until after Parliament had risen on 29 September 2020. It was therefore not possible for them to be laid before they came into force at 12:00 am on 30 September 2020. They were laid at the earliest opportunity on the morning of 30 September 2020.

1.8The Department explains that the Minister has now written to the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the House of Lords (in a letter dated 14 October 2020) “to clarify this”. In that letter, the Minister explains that:

The Regulations were not made until after Parliament had risen and so it was not possible to lay them first. They were laid at the earliest opportunity the following day”.

1.9The Committee accordingly reports the delay in sending a notification to the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the House of Lords explaining why the Regulations were not laid before they came into force, acknowledged by the Department.





Published: 19 October 2020