SESSION 2001 - 2002
SEVENTH REPORT OF THE EXAMINER OF STATUTORY RULES
THE APPROPRIATE COMMITTEES
DATED 1 MARCH 2002
(S.R. 2002 No. 28)
Finance and Personnel
(S.R. 2002 No. 26)
Health, Social Services and Public Safety Committee
(S.R. 2002 Nos. 33, 35 and 39)
Regional Development Committee
(S.R. 2002 No. 38)
- In accordance with the revised delegations under Standing Order 41 given to the Examiner of Statutory Rules by the appropriate Committees in October and November 2001, I submit my report on the statutory rules listed in the Appendix. At the same time, I am sending a copy of this report to each of the Departments concerned.
- All of these statutory rules, except S.R. 2002 No. 26, are subject to negative resolution; S.R. 2002 No. 26 (the Rates (Regional Rates) Order (Northern Ireland) 2002), is subject to affirmative resolution.
- I draw the attention of the Assembly and the Finance and Personnel Committee to the Rates (Regional Rates) Order (Northern Ireland) 2002 (S.R. 2002 No. 26), which is subject to affirmative resolution, on the ground that there appears to have been considerable delay in the laying of the Order.
- The Order was made on 29 January 2002 and was, it seems, available on the Internet on 11 February 2002. It was considered by the Finance and Personnel Committee on 26 February 2002 and was not laid until 27 February 2002 after the motion for its affirmation had been put down and scheduled on 26 February 2002 by the Business Committee for debate on 4 March 2002. I first raised the matter of the delay in laying the Order on 26 February 2002, when I noted from the Business Diary that it was being considered by the Finance and Personnel Committee: I contacted the Finance and Personnel Committee, the Department of Finance and Personnel and the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. On 27 February 2002, in discussion with the Business Office, I wrote (by e-mail and fax) to the Department (just before the Order was actually laid) informing it of my intention to make this report and inviting them to make observations on the delay in the laying of the Order.
- The Department's response (received yesterday, 28 February 2002) was in the following terms―
"The Order was laid on 27 February. It could not have been laid until it had received the Executive's endorsement.
The Order was made on 29 January 2002 and the Department, in line with the rules for the "written procedure" process, circulated the Order to OFMDFM on 4 February asking for approval for use of the written procedure by 11 February. At the same time it was circulated to Departmental Assembly Liaison Officers for them to obtain their Minister's comments. The outcome of the written procedure exercise was that the Executive endorsed the making and laying of the Regional Rates Order on 27 February 2002.
The Department will be meeting with the Legislative Progress Unit of OFMDFM to discuss guidelines and procedures connected with Statutory Rules.".
- I draw attention to the considerable delay in the laying of the Rates (Regional Rates) Order (Northern Ireland) 2002 (S.R. 2002 No. 26), which is subject to affirmative resolution, accordingly. Plainly, difficulties have arisen in the application of the Executive's procedures in this case, difficulties which in turn have had an effect on the Assembly's scrutiny procedures, albeit not seriously, as it turned out; nevertheless the potential for difficulty is clearly there, as illustrated by this case. In the light of that, I make the observation that the Executive might well consider revising its procedures so that any approval and endorsement required from the Executive (which approval and endorsement, I understand, only applies to statutory rules which are subject to affirmative resolution) is obtained before the statutory rule is made by the Department concerned: that, with respect, would seem to be a much more sensible approach from every point of view rather than, as in this case, endorsing the making and laying of the statutory rule almost one month after the event.
- Subject to the points set out in paragraphs 3 to 6, there is nothing in the statutory rules covered by this report that requires to be brought to the special attention of the Assembly and the appropriate Committees under any of the grounds mentioned in Standing Order 41(5).
W G Nabney
Examiner of Statutory Rules
1 March 2002
(The attention of the Assembly and the appropriate Committee is drawn to the statutory rules marked in bold)
Rates (Regional Rates) Order (Northern Ireland) 2002 (S.R. 2002 No. 26)
The Sulphur Content of Liquid Fuels Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002
(S.R. 2002 No. 28)
Food and Animal Feedingstuffs (Products of Animal Origin from China) (Control) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 (S.R. 2002 No. 33)
Notification of Marketing of Food for Particular Nutritional Uses Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 (S.R. 2002 No. 35)
Stonard Street, Moneymore (Footway) (Abandonment) Order (Northern Ireland) 2002
(S.R. 2002 No. 38)
Sweeteners in Food (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 (S.R. 2002 No. 39)