Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Deregulation Fourth Report


16 DECEMBER 1998

    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.  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.[1]

    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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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 Statement.


    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.[5]

    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.

    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."[6]

    7.  The Committee is satisfied with this explanation.


    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[7] on this issue ..." Paragraph 33 of the Department's statement summarises the discussions which it has held with LACOTS,[8] 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.


    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.[9] 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.[10]


    11.  The Committee reports that the draft order is in a form satisfactory to be submitted to the House for affirmative resolution.

    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.[11]


The members of the Select Committee are:

        L. Alexander of Weedon (Chairman)

        L. Ampthill

        L. Archer of Sandwell

        L. Dahrendorf

        L. Dean of Harptree

        L. Goodhart

        L. Mayhew of Twysden

        L. Merlyn-Rees

        L. Prys-Davies

        L. Waddington

1   Standing Order 70(1)(b). Back

2   HL Paper 136, session 1997-98. Back

3   This Directive lays down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations. Back

4   28th Report, paragraph 20. Back

5   28th Report, paragraph 19. Back

6   Statement by the Department of Trade and Industry, paragraphs 29 and 30. Back

7   The Institute of Trading Standards Administration. Back

8   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

9   See paragraphs 4-26 of the Department's statement. Back

10   See paragraphs 10 and 11 of the Department's statement. Back

11   This report is also published on the Internet at the House of Lords Select Committees Home Page (, where further information about the work of the Committee is also available. Back

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