Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Fourth Report


23 July 1997

By the Select Committee appointed to report whether the provisions of any bill inappropriately delegate legislative power, or whether they subject the exercise of legislative power to an inappropriate degree of parliamentary scrutiny; to report on documents laid before Parliament under section 3(3) of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 and on draft orders laid under section 1(4) of that Act; and to perform, in respect of such documents and orders, the functions performed in respect of other instruments by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.


  1.    This bill, which was introduced into the House of Lords by a member of this Committee, amends the law relating to the resolution of individual employment rights disputes. The bill modifies existing powers to make regulations and confers new powers.

Existing powers

  2.    Section 7 of the Industrial Tribunals Act 1996 (a consolidation, renamed by the bill "the Employment Tribunals Act 1996") confers on the Secretary of State power to make regulations about the procedure before industrial tribunals (renamed "employment tribunals"). Regulations are subject to negative procedure (section 41(4)).

  3.    Clauses 2, 3(5), 4 and 5 and paragraphs 12(4) and 14 of Schedule 1 make amendments to the 1996 Act which have the effect of modifying the existing regulation making power but without affecting Parliamentary control. Some of the changes are important, but none appears to raise issues which the Committee thinks necessary to draw to the attention of the House.

  4.    Paragraph 24 of Schedule 1 makes minor changes to the regulation-making power in section 219 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

New powers

  5.    Clause 7(1) establishes an Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) arbitration scheme to consider alleged contraventions of Part X of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (unfair dismissal) or any enactment specified in an order made by the Secretary of State. There are supplementary provisions in clause 7(3), (7) and (8) and orders are made subject to negative procedure by clause 7(9).

  6.    Clause 16(4) contains an unexceptional provision about making corresponding provision for Northern Ireland and clause 17 contains a commencement power.

  7.    There is nothing in the bill which the Committee wishes to draw to the attention of the House.


  8.    This bill enables effect to be given in the courts to certain provisions of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

  9.    Clause 3(4) allows an Order in Council to extend clause 1 (prohibition on causing a nuclear explosion) to acts done outside the United Kingdom by bodies incorporated under the law of any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or any colony. There is no Parliamentary control, which is customary with orders of this kind affecting the Islands or colonies.

  10.    Clause 8(8) allows the Secretary of State to extend by order the privileges and immunities conferred by section 8 to the Director General and members of the staff of the Technical Secretariat established under the Treaty. Subsection (9) applies affirmative procedure.

  11.    Clause 13 is a Henry VIII clause allowing the Secretary of State to amend the bill by order to give effect to any amendment of the Treaty. Where the Treaty amendment is of the limited kind made under Article VII(8), negative procedure applies (subsection (3)). Any other amendment attracts affirmative procedure (subsection (4)).

  12.    Clause 15(1) is a simple commencement power. Clause 15(3) allows the bill to be extended (with modifications) by Order in Council to any of the Channel Islands, Isle of Man or any colony. Again, as is customary, there is no provision for Parliamentary control.

  13.    There is nothing in the bill which the Committee wishes to draw to the attention of the House.


  14.    The only delegated legislative power in this bill is the commencement power in Clause 4, to which it is not necessary to draw the House's attention.

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Prepared 24 July 1997