Select Committee on Merits of Statutory Instruments Nineteenth Report

Other instruments of interest


19.  The Department for Communities and Local Government have laid the Local Government Pension Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/1083), which amend the Local Government Pension Scheme (Benefits, Membership and Contributions) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/1166) by providing a reviewable "third tier" of ill health retirement benefit for a Scheme member who leaves employment because they are assessed by an independent occupational health practitioner as being permanently incapable of their current job, but medical evidence indicates they are capable of obtaining alternative employment within three years of their leaving. The Committee received additional information from the Department about views on these proposals expressed by interested parties. We also received comments from UNISON, and further information from the Department responding to UNISON's concerns. That material is printed at Appendix 2. We feel obliged to record our disappointment at the inadequacy of the information about the consultation process which the Department included in the Explanatory Memorandum; we are concerned that this is not the first time that the Department for Communities and Local Government have fallen short in the content of such Memoranda.


20.  These Regulations specify the information that a borrowing institution must publish about an object lent from abroad for a temporary public exhibition at an approved museum or gallery in order for that object to be protected from seizure or forfeiture in accordance with Part 6 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. That Act was passed to assure foreign lenders that a cultural object lent for an exhibition in the United Kingdom would be returned at the end of the exhibition. The Regulations provide that information concerning the identification and provenance of the object must be published free of charge for at least four weeks before the day on which the object is brought into the country, and thereafter made available to the public for a further period of twelve weeks or until the closure of the exhibition whichever is the longer period. Regulation 7 requires the museum to make available to a potential claimant of the object a summary of the material they hold about the object's provenance.


21.  The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) have laid the Electricity and Gas (Billing) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/1163), to implement the relevant provisions of the Energy End-Use Efficiency and Energy Services Directive (Directive 2006/32/EC). The Regulations amend Standard Licence Conditions, so as to require electricity and gas suppliers to provide domestic customers with historical consumption information on their bills: namely a comparison of a customer's energy or gas consumption covered by the period of the bill with that for the corresponding period in the previous year. The requirement does not cover business customers. DBERR have advised the Committee of the Government's view that business customers have different needs from domestic customers in terms of billing information, and that suppliers should be left to innovate and compete in this area. DBERR have referred to the Government's decision to proceed with the introduction of advanced metering for around 200,000 medium-sized business, which will mean these customers will benefit from far more data on their energy consumption than at present, with readings generated on a daily, or possibly more frequent, basis. They have stated their view that the Regulations represent sufficient implementation of the relevant provisions of the Energy Services Directive.


22.  The Department for Communities and Local Government have laid the Disabled Facilities Grants (Maximum Amounts and Additional Purposes) (England) Order 2008 (SI 2008/1189). The Order sets at £30,000 the maximum amount of disabled facilities grant (DFG) that a local housing authority may be required to pay towards the cost of works required for the provision of facilities in dwellings or buildings in England for disabled persons: the previous maximum limit was £25,000. The Order also specifies additional purposes for which an application for a grant must be approved: it will now be possible for grant to be made available for enabling access to a garden. In their consultation on these proposals in the early part of 2007, the Department raised the possibility of increasing the maximum grant limit to £30,000, and then to £50,000 in stages, if the evidence showed that local authorities were realising sufficient offsetting savings through using powers to reclaim DFG. The Department have confirmed that they will keep the maximum limit under review.


23.  These Regulations amend meat-processing procedures, following a change to EC Regulation 999/2001 that relates to the control of BSE. From 26 April 2008, the age at which bovine vertebral column is classified as Specified Risk Material is increased from 24 months to 30 months. The Regulations also revoke the residual parts of the Beef on the Bone Regulations 1997 which have been replaced by directly-applicable EU-wide legislation. A note on the scientific justification for permitting the relaxation of these rules is printed at Appendix 3.

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