Thirty Second Report Contents

Instruments of interest

Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2018 (SI 2018/623)

10.There is growing concern about the increase in the number of small unmanned aircraft (“drones”) coming into proximity with manned aircraft (92 reported incidents in 2017, up from 71 in 2016 and 29 in 2015). From 30 July 2018 this Order extends current restrictions by prohibiting all drones from flying above 400 feet or within 1 kilometre of airport boundaries. Further restrictions apply to drone flights within the airport boundary to prevent drones being used to fly items in or out of the airside security area. From 30 November 2018 the operator of a drone larger than 250 grammes will need to obtain a certificate of registration from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and to display the registration number on the side of the machine. Remote pilots will also be required to obtain a certificate of competency from the CAA. This Order comes ahead of the Government’s intention to introduce a draft Drones Bill to give the police more powers to intervene if drones are being used inappropriately.4

Network and Information Systems (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/629)

11.These Regulations have been laid by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) with an Explanatory Memorandum (EM). The Regulations correct several defects and errors in the previous Network and Information Systems Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/506) which were laid on 20 April 2018. According to DCMS, the purpose of the original Regulations was to implement the EU’s Directive on Security of Network and Information Systems (“the EU Directive”), with the aim of increasing the UK’s security and resilience in relation to cyber attacks. The original Regulations established a legal framework to ensure that essential services and digital service providers put in place adequate measures to improve the security of their network and information systems. The Committee published information about the original Regulations in its 27th Report.5

12.The new Regulations make several corrections to the original Regulations. While these mainly correct cross-references, typographical errors and other minor mistakes, one of the typographical errors in the original Regulations had the effect of leaving the digital infrastructure sector out of the scope of the Regulations. The correction made by the new Regulations ensures that this important sector is now brought into scope as originally intended, and fulfils the UK’s obligations under the EU Directive, as required.

13.The Committee is concerned that the error in the original Regulations, while of a typographical nature, had such significant consequences, and that the EM to the new Regulations failed to explain the position clearly. We look to Departments to ensure that EMs give full and accessible explanations.

Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme and Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/635)

14.This instrument makes changes to the domestic and non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI) Scheme. Under the RHI Scheme, subsidies are paid to domestic and non-domestic producers of renewable and low-carbon heating in Great Britain, to encourage a switch from fossil fuel heating systems, in support of the Government’s commitment to meeting EU renewable energy obligations by 2020 and the UK’s statutory carbon reduction targets until 2050. According to the Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Regulations form part of the Department’s response to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO) from February 2018. This report raised concerns about the value for money of the RHI Scheme and about areas of ‘gaming’, where people comply with the rules but act in a way which does not support the Scheme’s objectives. The Committee drew a related instrument (the Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/611)) to the attention of the House in March 2018 in the light of the NAO report.

15.BEIS explains that this instrument addresses some of the NAO’s value for money concerns, by limiting the use of estimated data when meter readings cannot be provided and by clarifying the rules around replacing plants that are subsidised under the RHI Scheme. BEIS also says that tighter rules on the registration of biogas production plants will address a key area of gaming, by ensuring that only one plant can be used for one registration and subsidy. BEIS told us that it intends to bring forward further changes to the RHI Scheme in 2019 in response to the issues raised by the NAO report.

Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) General (Amendment) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/653)

16.The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has laid these Regulations with an Explanatory Memorandum (EM), stating that the purpose of the instrument is to correct an error in Regulations dating from 2007.6 That error was introduced by a set of amending Regulations laid in 2015 (SI 2015/1001) (“the 2015 Regulations”),7 and was identified by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI) in a report published in September 2015.8

17.We also commented on SI 2015/1001, in our 3rd Report of Session 2015–16.9 Those Regulations were laid on 27 March 2015 and brought into force on 1 April 2015, breaching the “21-day rule”. We noted at the time that the Government said that it was important to change the law as quickly as possible, since “the delay between announcing the intention to legislate and the legislation coming into force has caused significant confusion amongst the public”. We commented that, since the intention to legislate had been confirmed in a Government response to a 2013–14 consultation on local authority parking, the Government might have been expected to foresee the delay cited.

18.We asked MHCLG why it had taken nearly three years to correct the error made by the 2015 Regulations, and we have been told that “[w]hen undertaking a review of legislation, the outstanding matter highlighted by the [JCSI] came to light. We responded by drafting an SI to correct the error, and laid it as the first opportunity”. Because of miscommunication between MHCLG and the Ministry of Justice, the latest set of Regulations were also brought into force sooner than 21 days after laying.

19.The Department’s handling of both the 2015 and the latest Regulations has fallen well short of good practice, and we trust that it will make efforts to improve in future.

Animal Health (Miscellaneous Fees) (England) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/664)

Animal By-Products and Pet Passport Fees (England) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/666)

20.These instruments adjust existing, and introduce new, fees for services delivered by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (“APHA”). According to the APHA, the aim is to achieve full cost recovery in line with government policy that businesses using and benefiting from a service should bear the cost of its provision. Existing fees that are being adjusted include, for example, fees for poultry producers that register with the APHA under the Poultry Health Scheme to enable them to export hatching eggs or live poultry to the EU and third countries. Some fees will be reduced, reflecting savings the APHA has made, and new fees will be introduced for a number of services provided by the APHA. This includes fees that veterinarians will have to pay for blank pet passport authorisation documents and fees for the inspection and approval of premises that handle animal by-products or produce pet food. APHA explains that, in response to feedback received during the consultation on the proposals, full cost recovery will be phased in over a two-year period in some cases to reduce the initial impact on businesses.

Time Off for Public Duties Order 2018 (SI 2018/665)

21.The Ministry of Justice wishes to improve the diversity of the lay observers who monitor the conditions of those in custody. The majority of these observers are currently over 55 years old and retired. With the objective of encouraging more diversity, this Order amends the Employment Rights Act 1996 (“ERA”) to grant unpaid time off work to volunteers who monitor conditions in court custody facilities, Immigration Removal Centres, immigration facilities at ports and airports and in Scottish prisons.10 The change brings these groups into line with Prison Independent Monitoring Boards, who perform a very similar function and are already granted time off work by the ERA. The Government hope that by attracting monitors in full-time employment, who tend to be younger, prisoners will be more likely to engage with them about their issues of concern.

5 27th Report, Session 2017–19 (HL Paper 131).

6 Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) General Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/3483).

7 Civil Enforcement of Parking Contraventions (England) General (Amendment No. 2) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/1001).

8 3rd Report, Session 2015–16 (HL Paper 33).

9 3rd Report, Session 2015–16 (HL Paper 10).

10 This group does not include those who monitor conditions in police station cells.

© Parliamentary copyright 2018