Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Amendment of Schedule 1) Order 2014; Licensing Act 2003 (Mandatory Conditions) Order 2014 - Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee Contents

Other Instruments of Interest

Draft Green Deal Code of Practice (Version 4) and
Draft Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2014

Draft Green Deal Code of Practice

28.  We have published information about a number of statutory instruments laid by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in order to implement the "Green Deal", since we drew the draft Green Deal Framework (Disclosure, Acknowledgement, Redress Etc.) Regulations 2012 to the special attention of the House in June 2012.[9]

29.  One element of this implementation is the Green Deal Code of Practice, which sets out requirements for individuals acting as providers, assessors, or installers for the purposes of the Green Deal, or for Certification Bodies. DECC states that the requirements set out in the Code of Practice are designed to ensure that all such individuals and bodies operate fairly and transparently, deliver good customer service, have appropriate levels of training and expertise, and provide appropriate redress mechanisms for customers.

30.  DECC has now laid version 4 of the Code of Practice, in draft form, with an Explanatory Memorandum (EM). In it, the Department says that the Code of Practice is being updated following feedback from stakeholders, and includes a number of on-going operational changes. Details of the changes are given in paragraph 8.4 of the EM.

Draft Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2014

31.  DECC has also laid these draft Regulations which, in amending an earlier instrument,[10] serve to improve the scheme and increase deployment of renewable heating technologies in the non-domestic sector. In the accompanying EM, DECC says that the main changes being made are to expand the non-domestic scheme; update tariffs following a review; change rules regarding public grants; clarify eligibility rules; and address budget management.

Secondary legislation relating to energy schemes

32.  The Green Deal, and the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme, are among several major schemes which DECC is taking forward, making frequent use of secondary legislation. These schemes also include the Energy Companies Obligation; the Renewables Obligation; the Warm Home Discount Scheme; the Smart Metering Programme; and Electricity Market Reform. DECC has provided us with an extensive note giving an overview of these schemes and their interaction with secondary legislation: we are publishing the full note on our website.

33.  The House may in particular like to see the information which DECC has provided about the secondary legislation which it expects to bring forward in relation to Electricity Market Reform, including a number of affirmative instruments which the Department plans to lay in June of this year. We are publishing this at Appendix 1.

Draft Licensing Act 2003 (FIFA World Cup Licensing Hours) Order 2014

34.  This Order will extend licensing hours to enable viewers to watch England's World Cup matches at pubs and other licensed premises anywhere in England. The Order specifically extends licensing hours in relation to England's group matches with Italy and Uruguay (but not the match with Costa Rica because its earlier kick off time, 5pm, means that an extension is not necessary). This Order would also extend the licensing hours for matches in the later stages of the World Cup, provided that England qualify.

Draft Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014

35.  In the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) to these draft Regulations, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) says that they give greater rights to report at open meetings of local government bodies, by filming, photographing, audio-recording or any other means. DCLG comments that local people will be able to film, make audio-recordings and provide written commentaries during a meeting and provide oral commentaries outside the meeting, allowing those who are unable to attend the meeting to follow the proceedings. The Regulations also require a written record of certain decisions made by officers of such bodies.

36.  DCLG states that it did not undertake formal consultation on the Regulations, but that they were the subject of an informal soundings exercise with the Local Government Association (LGA), Lawyers in Local Government, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives. All but the last-named of these submitted comments, as did a number of other interested organisations, and a member of this House.

37.  DCLG's account of the outcome of the soundings exercise identifies no unequivocal support for the Regulations. For example, the LGA opposed them and commented that "the Government's approach, as set out in the draft Regulations, appears completely contrary to the principles of Localism and is in fact micro-management of the sector." While the NALC supported the objective of transparency, it raised concerns (in common with other respondents) that some provisions in the Regulations, such as filming or recording a meeting, and recording and publishing decisions taken by officers, would have significant detrimental, costly and disproportionate effects on local councils.

38.  The Department has not been persuaded by these concerns. As is made clear in the EM, it holds to the belief that "localism requires robust local scrutiny and local accountability", and that "allowing the public to attend and report meetings promotes health democracy and should not be seen as an intrusion [which does not create] burdens on the councils or local government bodies." We note that much of the EM consists of similar declarations; we would urge the Department to bear in mind that EMs are intended to provide explanation, not exhortation.

39.  DCLG proposes to bring the Regulations into force on the day after which they are made. In the EM, the Department refers to Ministerial statements and press notices which have set out the importance of allowing filming and the use of social media in their meetings. While it refers to two specific press notices, we understand that there have been no Ministerial Statements to Parliament about the Regulations. As an instrument subject to affirmative resolution, the Regulations will be debated in the House: this will provide the Department with an opportunity to explain its intentions to Parliament, as well as to the recipients of its press releases.

Family Court (Composition and Distribution of Business) Rules 2014 (SI 2014/840) and 15 other instruments11

40.  In the first week of April the Ministry of Justice laid more than a dozen instruments setting out the fine detail of the arrangements for the unified Family and unified County Court systems that came into effect from 22 April.[11] The Family Court (Composition and Distribution of Business) Rules 2014 set out how the bench will be composed (for example a District Judge will no longer chair magistrates but will sit on his or her own). They also provide for certain types of cases (including appeals) to be allocated to certain levels of judge, makes provision for the authorisation of judges to conduct specified types of proceedings and prohibits certain levels of judge from dealing with certain remedies. Other instruments restructure fees to refer to the appropriate court and ensure that references in secondary legislation are revised appropriately.

Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/870)

41.  In the Explanatory Memorandum to this instrument, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) explains that, in May 2008, the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD)[12] was implemented in the UK by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations ("the CPRs": SI 2008/1277), which protect consumers from unfair commercial practices including misleading actions and aggressive practices. BIS says that a private right for consumers to take their own action for breach of the CPRs was not included at that time, because of concern that it could lead to consumers being given an "undesirable latitude to sue traders".[13]

42.  In February 2010, BIS asked the Law Commission and Scottish Law Commission ("the Commissions") to consider reform of the laws of misrepresentation and duress. In March 2012, the Commissions published their findings, including recommendations for reform to address gaps in protections, and to provide consumers with a right to redress when they have been a victim of a misleading or aggressive commercial practice. The Government accepted most of the recommendations and published their response, together with draft Regulations, in August 2013.[14] In amending the CPRs, these Regulations will enable consumers to take action to seek such redress. The instrument introduces standard remedies and an entitlement to seek damages when a consumer has fallen victim to such practices.

Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/880)

43.  The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has laid these Regulations with an Explanatory Memorandum (EM). In amending the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 (SI 2012/3118), the instrument sets new fees for entering data on to the register which is maintained by the Secretary of State, and also makes amendments to allow the keeper of the register to disclose general access or bulk access data from the register to additional persons and for additional purposes.

44.  DCLG brought the Regulations into force four days after laying them. In the EM, the Department says that it regrets breaching the 21-day rule, but adds that it has done so "because it was not possible to secure cross-government agreement to make the Regulations earlier, following work with the register operator to determine revised fee levels for entering data onto the register".

45.  We obtained further information from DCLG about this breach, which we are publishing at Appendix 2. The Department has set out several reasons why it decided not to delay beyond 6 April the date at which the Regulations would come into force. We are not persuaded that any of these reasons justify the severe curtailment of time for Parliamentary scrutiny which resulted.

Cycle Racing on Highways (Tour de France 2014) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/887)

46.  Cycle races on public roads are not normally permitted to have more than 80 riders. To allow three stages of the Tour de France 2014 to take place in England on 5, 6 and 7 July 2014, this instrument will make a limited exception to this rule. For the Tour de France period only, these Regulations increase the maximum permitted number of competitors to 220, remove the conditions that normally prevent a race passing along the same length of road more than once and will allow the races to pass along roads with speed limits of 40 miles per hour or less. This year's Tour de France will incorporate stages from Leeds to Harrogate, York to Sheffield and Cambridge to London and will pass alongside the House on 7 July.

Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI 2014/917)

47.  The Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Regulations (SI 2014/916) set up a scheme to implement the Mesothelioma Act 2014 by making payments to eligible sufferers of diffuse mesothelioma who are unable to bring a civil action for damages against a liable employer or that employer's relevant employer liability insurer because they no longer exist or cannot be traced. The payments are to be made based on a tariff set out in Schedule 4 to the Regulations. The commercial process to contract with a provider to deliver the payment scheme has now been concluded and has resulted in savings in administrative costs that allow for the levels of payments to successful applicants to be increased. These amending Regulations set out the higher rates, which average an additional £8,000.

9   5th Report of Session 2012-13 (HL Paper 22). Back

10   The Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/2860). Back

11   See also SIs 2014/ 819-21, 841-3, 867, 874-9 and the draft Crime and Courts Act 2013 (County Court and Family Court: Consequential Provision) Order 2014. Back

12   Directive 2005/29/EC. Back

13   See the Government's Response to the Consultation Paper on Implementing the UCPD (December 2006), available at: . Back

14   See: Back

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