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.
DRAFT DEREGULATION (WEIGHTS AND MEASURES)
1. The Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994
provides a two-stage process for the parliamentary scrutiny of
deregulation orders. A document containing the proposal is laid
under section 3(3) of the Act in the form of a draft of the order,
together with explanatory material; and we and the Commons equivalent
committee have 60 days in which to consider and report on it.
The Government then lay under section 1(4) of the Act a draft
order, either in its original form or amended to take account
of the two committees' views, for approval by resolution of each
House. In the Lords a motion to approve a draft order can only
be moved after we have made a second report on it.
2. The proposal for the draft Deregulation (Weights
and Measures) Order 1998 was laid under section 3(3) of the 1994
Act on 1 June 1998. We reported on the proposal in our 28th report
of last session, dated 22 July 1998.
The proposal was acceptable to us in the form in which it was
laid, without amendment, subject to the resolution of two concerns.
These concerns, and the Department of Trade and Industry's (DTI)
response to them, are detailed in the following paragraphs.
3. In our report on the proposal we recommended
that further discussion should take place between the Department
of Trade and Industry and the European Commission on the question
of whether the proposed order was notifiable under Directive 83/189/EEC.
At the time that we agreed our previous report, the Department
of Trade and Industry took the view that the present proposal
was not notifiable, on the ground that it did not contain technical
specifications for the purposes of the Directive.
Although the Department has not changed its view since we reported,
it has held further discussions with representatives of Directorate-General
III of the Commission and the Commission's Legal Services.
4. The Committee considers that its original
concerns are adressed adequately in paragraphs 4-8 of the Department's
USE OF THE ST. EDMUND'S CROWN STAMP
5. In our report on the proposal we also noted
that both Edinburgh City Council and the London Borough of Croydon
had expressed concern that under the proposal self-verifiers would
use the same stamp (St. Edmund's crown) as inspectors, and that
the Local Authorities Coordinating Body on Food and Trading Standards
(LACOTS) had pointed out that this would be likely to indicate
that the verification was on behalf of the Government. We invited
the Minister to give further consideration to this point.
6. The Statement by the Department of Trade and
Industry includes the following justification for the use of the
St. Edmund's Crown stamp by self-verifiers:
"The draft Order, in permitting persons other
than a weights and measures inspector to apply the prescribed
stamp would not be setting a precedent. Under regulation 13(9)
of the Non-automatic Weighing Instruments (EEC Requirements) Regulations
1995 (S.I. 1995 No. 1907), as amended, approved manufacturers
are permitted to apply a re-qualification sticker to measuring
instruments which are returned into use for trade having been
previously disqualified through repair or failure to comply with
the Regulations. This sticker carries the St. Edmund's crown in
black on a white background. This equally applies to an approved
manufacturer resident within or outside the UK.
7. The Committee is satisfied with this explanation.
The prescribed stamp is applied under statutory authority
under current legislation by inspectors holding a certificate
of qualification granted by the Secretary of State. The use of
the stamp by an approved verifier will be the result of the same
mechanism; it will be applied under statutory authority by a person
approved by the Secretary of State."
LOCAL AUTHORITY FUNDING
8. Our last report also voiced concern on the
issue of local authority funding. In paragraph 17 we noted "that
the amounts being recommended for transfer are likely to offset
the additional cost burden on local authorities only in part.
There is a further concern that, unless the money is 'ring-fenced'
in some way, there is no guarantee that it will in fact be used
for the intended purpose. We consider that the DTI should continue
discussions with LACOTS and ITSA
on this issue ..." Paragraph 33
of the Department's statement summarises the discussions which
it has held with LACOTS,
and outlines two possible solutions to this problem.
9. The Committee is satisfied with the proposed
arrangements outlined in paragraph 33 of the Department's statement.
HOUSE OF COMMONS DEREGULATION COMMITTEE
10. The House of Commons Deregulation Committee
also made a number of specific requests, one of which concerned
obligations arising from membership of the European Union.
It also recommended that the proposed Order be amended to include
provision for requirements for internal reviews or audits of quality
systems, and to provide clear controls on the use of sub-contractors
under quality assurance procedures to ensure traceability of product
and work done by such contractors. The Statement by the Department
of Trade and Industry states that the Minister accepts the Committee's
recommendation and has amended the draft Order accordingly.
11. The Committee reports that the draft order
is in a form satisfactory to be submitted to the House for affirmative
12. We are required by our terms of reference
to perform, in respect of documents and orders laid under section
1(4) of the 1994 Act, the functions performed in respect of other
instruments by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments. The
Committee has concluded that there is nothing in the draft order
which the Joint Committee would have needed to draw to the attention
of each House.
The members of the Select Committee are:
L. Alexander of Weedon (Chairman)
L. Archer of Sandwell
L. Dean of Harptree
L. Mayhew of Twysden
1 Standing Order 70(1)(b). Back
HL Paper 136, session 1997-98. Back
This Directive lays down a procedure for the provision of information
in the field of technical standards and regulations. Back
28th Report, paragraph 20. Back
28th Report, paragraph 19. Back
Statement by the Department of Trade and Industry, paragraphs
29 and 30. Back
The Institute of Trading Standards Administration. Back
The Committee received written confirmation from the National
Weights and Measures Laboratory that ITSA "support LACOTS
in their discussions on financial matters affecting the local
authority trading standards departments, but that ITSA does not
wish to get involved in the discussions ... LACOTS keep ITSA informed
of the discussions." Back
See paragraphs 4-26 of the Department's statement. Back
See paragraphs 10 and 11 of the Department's statement. Back
This report is also published on the Internet at the House of
Lords Select Committees Home Page (http://www.parliament.uk),
where further information about the work of the Committee is also