Call for Evidence

The Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill was introduced into the Assembly on 30 November 2015. The Committee Stage began on 9 December 2015.

The Committee wishes to hear views from all interested parties in order to assist it with the scrutiny of the Bill.

The Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill has 16 clauses and 2 schedules and is split into 3 parts:

PART 1 - Regulation of sale of nicotine products and tobacco 

Part 1 consists of 5 clauses and provides for regulations to be made prohibiting the sale of nicotine products both to under 18s and from vending machines. It provides, through schedule 1, for amendments to be made to the Tobacco Retailers Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 and, separately, for an amendment to the Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) (Northern Ireland) Order 1991. It also makes provisions for interpretation of Part 1 of the Bill.

Clause 1: Prohibition of sale of nicotine products to persons under 18

Clause 1provides a regulation-making power for the Department to prohibit the sale of nicotine products to a person under 18. The penalty for committing this offence is a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.  There is an exemption for persons employed in the industry and a due diligence defence. Clause 1 also includes a regulation-making power for the creation of an offence in relation to the proxy purchasing of nicotine products. 

Clause 2: Prohibition of sale of nicotine products from vending machines

Clause 2 provides a regulation-making power for the Department to prohibit the sale of nicotine products from an automatic vending machine. Regulations made under this power must state who would be responsible for breaching the ban, the penalty for which is a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.

Clause 3: Amendments consequential on sections 1 and 2

Clause 3 makes consequential amendments to integrate the new age of sale offence for nicotine products into the existing age of sale legislation for tobacco products. Consequential amendments to Article 6 of the Children and Young Persons (Protection from Tobacco) (Northern Ireland) Order 1991 apply the enforcement regime for tobacco age of sale offences to offences under clauses 1 and 2. Consequential amendments to sections 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16 and 22 of the Tobacco Retailers (Northern Ireland) Act 2014 integrate the offences under clauses 1 and 2 into the existing regime for repeated tobacco age of sale offences.

Clause 4: Amendment of the Order of 1991

Clause 4 increases the penalty for selling tobacco from automatic vending machines from a level 4 offence to a level 5 offence. This is in line with similar offences for underage sales of tobacco products.

Clause 5: Interpretation of Part 1

Clause 5 defines “Nicotine product”. Examples include an electronic cigarette and part of an electronic cigarette. Tobacco products, which are already subject to a prohibition on sale to persons aged under 18, are not nicotine products for the purposes of this clause. Through subordinate legislation, the Department may   provide for exceptions or make provision in relation to nicotine products of a specified kind, such as licensed NRT products, or all nicotine products.

PART 2 - Miscellaneous provisions

Part 2 consists of 6 clauses to amend the 2008 Act provisions in respect of primary dental services, general ophthalmic services, pharmaceutical services and charges for services provided to persons not ordinarily resident.

Clause 6: Persons performing primary dental services

The purpose of Clause 6 is to provide the Department with the necessary legal powers to introduce the new dental contract provisions including the introduction of performers’ lists for dentists.  By changing certain wording (so that the words “providing” and “provide” now read “performing” and “perform”) it gives full effect to the 2008 Act policy intention.  Changes to other references (so that Article 61 now reads Article 60A) are also made.

Clause 7: Ophthalmic services

Clause 7 revokes the provisions in the 2008 Act and restores the pre 2008 Act listing provisions.

Clause 8: Pharmaceutical services

Clause 8 revokes the provisions in the 2008 Act and restores the pre 2008 Act listing provisions. 

Clause 9: Disqualification by the Tribunal

Clause 9 amends Schedule 11 to the 1972 Order (disqualification of persons providing Part 6 services) which sets out the powers of a Tribunal to consider a case against a listed individual or body. As the Bill will restore the pre 2008 Act position of listing only general ophthalmic services and pharmaceutical services providers, the Tribunal’s powers are to revert to pre 2008 Act position. The Tribunal’s extended powers for performers will not apply to general ophthalmic services or pharmaceutical services.  Consequently, the Tribunal will have to consider cases from two different types of lists:

  • lists of those who have an arrangement with the HSCB to provide general dental services (until primary dental services are introduced), general ophthalmic services and pharmaceutical services; and
  • lists of primary medical services (and future primary dental services) performers.

The powers of the Tribunal vary, depending on the type of list, and the amendments in clause 9 address these differing situations. 

Clause 10: Provision of medical or dental services: Article 15B arrangements

Article 15B sets out an alternative system for providing primary dental services other than through general dental services contracts.  Clause 10 amends Article 15B of the 1972 Order to ensure it gives full effect to the 2008 Act policy intention. 

Clause 11: Charges for services provided to persons not ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland

Clause 11 makes specific reference to the power to prescribe exemptions.

PART 3 - General

Part 3 consists of 5 clauses and makes provision in respect of interpretation of the Bill, subordinate legislation and repeals, and sets out the title and commencement dates.

Clauses 12 – 16 and the Schedules

Clauses 12 – 16 and the Schedules support the main provisions of both Part 1 and Part 2 of the Bill. They define the meaning of certain phrases (clause 12, Interpretation); provide detail on subordinate legislation processes (clause 13, Regulations and Orders); provide for repeals (clause 14, Repeals); commencement dates for the introduction of specific powers (clause 15, Commencement) and set out the title of the Bill (clause 16, Short title). The Schedules deal with amendments and repeals.

Any organisation or individual with an interest in this Bill is invited to submit evidence to the Committee by e-mail to: healthmiscprovisionsbill@niassembly.gov.uk

or by post to:

The Committee Clerk, Room B32, Parliament Buildings, Ballymiscaw, Stormont, Belfast BT4 3XX.

The evidence must be structured to address the specific clauses of the Bill and, if appropriate, should include any amendments you wish to propose to the text.

The Bill is available here.

Organisations or individuals responding to this call for evidence will wish to note that their submission (either in whole or part) will be published on the Committee website.

If you do not have access to the internet or e-mail facilities or you have any other enquiries, please contact the Committee Office on 028 9052 1920 or 028 9052 1841.

The closing date for submissions is 15 December 2015.

 

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