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Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2006

10.50 pm

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 27 February be approved [20th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I hope that at this time it is convenient to discuss the two other draft statutory instruments before us tonight: the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 (Consequential Modifications) (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) Order 2006; and the Management of Offenders etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2006.

The first order before us is the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2006. This order is designed to ensure that certain consents granted under Section 36 of, and orders under Schedule 5 to,
 
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the Electricity Act 1989, as well as existing electricity permissions, do not conflict with those granted by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency under the Controlled Activities Regulations 2005. The order also makes amendments requiring the fisheries committee, Scotland, to consult SEPA and amendments in relation to landfill tax as a result of these regulations which replaced parts of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 with a new remedial action regime.

Your Lordships may be wondering why there are to be two separate systems of consent for the construction and operation of power stations in Scotland. I will come to that explanation in a few moments. The point of this order is to ensure that those separate systems operate effectively, in line with the "Better Regulation" agenda. Renewable energy is an important part of the Government's energy policy and should be encouraged. However, it is also important to bear in mind the impact of renewable and other sources of energy on the environment in which power stations are built and operated.

The order has its origins in the water framework directive—directive 2000/60/EC. The directive sets a Europe-wide framework for the long-term sustainable management of water. In Scotland, the directive is implemented by the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003. In particular, that gives power to Scottish Ministers to introduce regulations to control activities impacting on the water environment. The Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 were made using that power. The regulations mean that from 1 April 2006, SEPA will be responsible for authorising all controlled activities, such as abstraction of water from the water environment, to ensure compliance with the water framework directive.

Of course, separate consent will still be required for the construction, extension or operation of generating stations or the grant of water rights under the Electricity Act 1989, so that matters of wider concern may still be addressed—for example, in respect of such matters as the visual impact of power stations on the landscape. It is desirable, therefore, that steps are taken to prevent duplication and potentially conflicting regulatory control between those two regimes.

The second order before us is the draft Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 (Consequential Modifications) (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) Order 2006. The provisions of the Act make it necessary to amend certain pieces of legislation for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This order updates legislation to reflect the introduction in Scotland of NHS pharmaceutical care services, which replace the current NHS pharmaceutical services regime. It also reflects changes to the listing made by health boards of NHS optometrists in Scotland.
 
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The final order before us this evening is the draft Management of Offenders etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 (Consequential Modifications) Order 2006, which does three things. It ensures that prisoners transferred on a restricted basis from Scotland to elsewhere in the United Kingdom can continue to be subject to the provisions of the Management of Offenders etc. (Scotland) Act 2005. Similarly, it enables prisoners transferred from England and Wales to Scotland to be released in Scotland and to remain subject to the control of the English and Welsh authorities, although monitored by contractors operating the new home detention curfew system in Scotland. These changes will harmonise prisoner release systems throughout the United Kingdom, and will ensure that there is more efficient supervision for prisoners. Finally, the order disqualifies the chief officers of the newly established community justice authorities from being Members of Parliament.

The order will also change the law in Scotland by creating a new system of release on home detention curfew licence for certain prisoners that is similar to the system operating in England and in Wales. We already transfer prisoners of all types between jurisdictions, so nothing in the order changes that. The key is better reintegration in the interests of public safety. The order ensures that, following their release from custody, such prisoners are appropriately monitored and supervised in the jurisdiction to which they have been transferred.

I hope that noble Lords have found these explanations and the fuller Explanatory Notes more helpful. The proposals are a sensible and necessary use of the order-making powers in Section 104 of the Scotland Act, and I commend them to the House. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 27 February be approved [20th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Evans of Temple Guiting.)

Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I simply rise to thank the Minister for his full explanation of the orders. We are content.

Lord Maclennan of Rogart: My Lords, I am grateful for the Minister's explanation. I merely have two questions to ask him. The Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003 (Consequential Provisions and Modifications) Order 2006 appears to contain a provision for consents given under the Electricity Act 1989 to be treated as if modified as necessary to be consistent with the 2005 regulations. It appears that this process could have an impact on those who have already received consents, so how will those interests be protected? First, will those who have already received consents which have to be realigned with the new provisions be given notification of that fact? What happens if consequential cost is involved in adjusting to the new arrangements, and will there be an appeals procedure to enable such construed changes of condition to be reviewed?
 
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Can the Minister say whether the arrangements under the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 (Consequential Modifications) (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) Order 2006, which, again, seems entirely sensible, are reciprocal if the provision to enable services to be provided to reorganised Scottish health authorities will be mirrored by Scottish provision to English health authorities? Does that await Scottish legislation? It is clearly desirable that it should be a reciprocal provision.

Finally, in respect of the management of offenders order, once again, it seems that the intention is that, on both sides of the border, provision for certain offenders' management should be broadly comparable. My understanding is that, although the arrangements covering the power to release prisoners on licence before required to do so and to release prisoners on home detention curfew arrangements are operative in England and, by the effect of this order, will be operative in comparable arrangements in Scotland, I am not entirely clear that it works the other way. If I am right, the memorandum indicates that there has been no such legislation in Scotland yet to provide for the similar treatment south of the border. That may be a matter that still has to be decided by the Scottish Executive, but I assume that there have been exchanges between the Government and the Executive on that point.

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Maclennan, for his three questions. I will have to write to him about his second question on reciprocal rights because we do not have the information here. On his first question, I can say that existing consents are to be read as though they are inclusive of the controlled activities regulations. Section 36 consents, under the Electricity Act, are designed to take into account a wide range of factors. The impact of those changes should be insignificant. Functions in those areas are of course devolved to the Scottish Ministers. Any appeal procedure is rightly a matter for the Scottish Ministers.

The noble Lord asked why the UK was legislating before Scotland had the provisions in place. The order provides for prisoners transferred from Scotland to England and Wales on a restricted basis to remain subject to the new release arrangements provided by the Scottish Parliament. It also provides for prisoners transferred from England and Wales to Scotland on a restricted basis to remain subject to the release and supervision rules of England and Wales.

As I said, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his questions. I will write to him on one of them. I am also grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, for her welcoming of the orders.

On Question, Motion agreed to.
 
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