Select Committee on Merits of Statutory Instruments First Report

Other instruments of Interest

7.  The Ministry of Defence (MOD) have laid the draft Armed Forces (Redress of Individual Grievances) Regulations 2007, and the draft Armed Forces (Service Complaints Commissioner) Regulations 2007. These Regulations (under the Armed Forces Act 2006) implement a new service complaints system for the armed forces in recognition of the need for members of the armed forces (who have no contract of employment and no system of collective bargaining) to have an effective way of obtaining redress for grievances. The Committee has been advised by MOD that the possibilities for redress provided to service personnel by these Regulations are already available to civilians employed by MOD.

8.  The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have laid the draft Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007. The draft Regulations introduce a single streamlined environmental permitting and compliance regime to apply in England and Wales, by integrating the existing regimes covering waste management licensing (WML) and Pollution Prevention and Control (PPC). DEFRA carried out consultations with a wide range of interested parties between early 2006 and autumn 2007, and have said that respondents were generally supportive of the ideas and aims of the initiative. However, the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) states that industry expressed concern at the proposal that the due diligence defence currently available under the WML system should be dropped, at the same time as the emergency defence, available only to waste operators at present, is to be extended to PPC. We felt that the EM did not deal fully enough with the proposed removal of the due diligence defence. At our request, DEFRA have now provided more information to explain their proposal, which is printed at Appendix 2. We trust that, while DEFRA view strict liability as "an important tool to secure convictions of corporate entities", they will see as the prime objective of the new regime not the achievement of such convictions but the maintenance of environmental and human health standards, as stated in the EM.

9.  The draft Legislative and Regulatory Reform (Regulatory Functions) Order 2007 and accompanying draft Regulators' Compliance Code have been laid by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR). Under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006, regulators specified in the Order must have regard to the Code in exercising regulatory functions. We considered that the Explanatory Memorandum to the Order and Code did not provide enough information about the changes which DBERR made to the Code in response to concerns expressed by certain regulators. We received further information from DBERR, printed at Appendix 3. We welcome the Code as a clear written expression of the "better regulation agenda" in the context of regulatory activity, but it will be important that the Government monitor what it in practice achieves, not least in the face of competing legislative requirements.

10.  HM Treasury have laid the Social Security (Contributions) (Amendment No. 9) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2905) which revoke the disregard in respect of National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for holiday pay for all but the construction sector. The construction sector will be allowed a further five years of the disregard before it is withdrawn completely. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced these changes in his statement on the Pre-Budget Report and Comprehensive Spending Review, on 9 October 2007. The Impact Assessment submitted by HM Treasury states that the cost of the additional NICs at risk if the disregard were not restricted in this way would be £1.2 billion by 2012-13.

11.  The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) have laid the Education (Pupil Referral Units) (Management Committees etc.) (England) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2978) and the Education (Pupil Referral Units) (Application of Enactments) (England) Regulations (SI 2007/2979). The main purpose of the Regulations is to make it mandatory for local authorities to establish management committees for their pupil referral units ("PRUs": schools run by local authorities for pupils who cannot attend mainstream schools). In the Explanatory Memorandum, DCSF state that they carried out a consultation from December 2006 to March 2007, and sought the views of local authorities, members of existing management committees, staff and teachers in charge of PRUs, head teachers and governors of schools, and national organisations with an interest in pupil referral units. DCSF have told the Committee that they did not consult young people or organisations representing them because they saw the making of management committees mandatory as a technical change impacting mainly on PRU governance. We note this reasoning, but consider that direct consultation of young people or their representative organisations can often provide useful input, even to the formulation of technical policy.

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