Business Rate Supplements Bill etc - Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee Contents

Sixth Report

Business Rate Supplements Bill

1.  This Bill provides for a new local authority levy, business rate supplement (BRS). A memorandum from the Department for Communities and Local Government explaining the delegated legislative powers in the Bill is printed at Appendix 1. There are no delegated powers to which the Committee wishes to draw the special attention of the House.

Political Parties and Elections Bill

2.  This Bill includes various provisions about the Electoral Commission, political funds and elections. Its main elements are listed in paragraph 4 of the Explanatory Notes to the Bill. The delegations of legislative power conferred in, or by virtue of amendments made by, the Bill are described in a memorandum prepared for the Committee by the Ministry of Justice, printed at Appendix 2.

3.  The Bill confers delegated powers, or amends existing delegated powers, exercisable by statutory instrument, at clauses 8, 16, 19, 21, 22 and 29, extensively at Schedule 2, at paragraphs 1, 4 and 7 of Schedule 3, and at the end of Schedule 4. These powers include three Henry VIII powers (clauses 8(9) and 12(4), and in paragraph 16 of the new Schedule inserted by Schedule 2), all subject to the affirmative procedure. There is also a new power at clause 15 to supplement a definition by guidance in a code of practice.

Schedule 2: sanctions

4.  Schedule 2 to the Bill sets out the new Schedule 19C which is inserted into the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, introducing revised arrangements for civil sanctions. These are to be applied by the Electoral Commission in the case of such contraventions of restrictions or requirements imposed by that Act as are prescribed by affirmative orders under the new Schedule. The sanctions include a fixed monetary penalty of an amount prescribed by negative order under paragraph 1(5) of the Schedule, and a variable monetary penalty of an amount to be determined by the Commission.

5.  Where a monetary penalty relates to a contravention which amounts to the commission of an offence under the Act, its amount must, under paragraphs 1(6) and 5(8), be no more than the maximum fine that may be imposed on summary conviction for the offence. But where the contravention does not involve the commission of an offence, the amount of the fixed penalty that may be prescribed under paragraph 1(5), and the amount of the variable penalty that may be determined by the Commission, appear to be subject to no maximum limit in the new Schedule.

6.  We draw to the attention of the House the absence of any limit in the Bill itself on the penalties that may be prescribed or imposed for these other contraventions, an absence which we find the more surprising given that a limit is provided for contraventions which amount to offences (and which might therefore have been expected to involve more serious cases). Unless the Bill is amended to provide for such a limit, we recommend that the exercise of the power in paragraph 1(5) of Schedule 19C should require an affirmative resolution.

Health Bill [HL] — Government Response

7.  We reported on this bill in our Third Report (HL Paper 29) and the Government have now responded by way of a letter to the Chairman from Lord Darzi of Denham, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health, printed at Appendix 3.

Legislative Reform (Local Government) (Animal Health Functions) Order 2009

8.  This Legislative Reform Order (LRO) has been laid under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 ("the 2006 Act"), together with an Explanatory Document[1] by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The purpose of the LRO is to repeal section 101(7) of the Local Government Act 1972 ("the 1972 Act"), so as to allow local authorities in England to arrange for animal health functions to be carried out by other local authorities, in the same way that they currently do for other functions. (In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland local authorities already have this ability.)

9.  As required by the 2006 Act the Department has consulted on the proposal: all 10 substantive respondents agreed with it. Further information is given in Chapter 3 of the Explanatory Document.

10.  The Committee is satisfied that the Order meets the tests set out in the 2006 Act and is not otherwise inappropriate for the LRO procedure. As the change appears exceptionally modest, the Committee is also content with the Department's proposal that the negative procedure should apply.

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