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Fifth Report of the Examiner of Statutory Rules to the Assembly and the Appropriate Committees 2021 - 2022

05 November 2021 - NIA 140/17-22

Fifth Report of the Examiner of Statutory Rules 2021 - 2022.pdf (227.11 kb)


Committee for Finance

 

Subject to the negative resolution procedure:

S.R. 2021/252: The Financial Assistance (Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) Remediation Fund) (Private Residential Properties over 18m) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

Committee for Health

Subject to the confirmatory resolution procedure:

2021/291: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) (Amendment) (No.7) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

S.R. 2021/292: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 (Amendment No. 18) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

Subject to the negative resolution procedure:

S.R. 2021/284: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (2021 Consolidation) (Amendment No. 7) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

S.R. 2021/286: The Provision of Health Services to Persons Not Ordinarily Resident (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

 

1. Remit of the Examiner of Statutory Rules

1.1 Assembly Standing Order 43 provides that every statutory rule or draft statutory rule which is laid before the Assembly and is subject to Assembly proceedings shall stand referred to the appropriate Committee of the Assembly for scrutiny. The appropriate Committee may also scrutinise any statutory rule which deals with a transferred matter, within the meaning of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, which is not subject to Assembly proceedings. The Standing Orders of the Assembly are published on the Northern Ireland Assembly website.

1.2 To assist Committees of the Assembly in the scrutiny of such statutory rules under Standing Order 43, the Examiner of Statutory Rules (the Examiner) shall carry out those functions delegated to the Examiner in relation to technical scrutiny.

1.3 The terms of reference of the Examiner, under delegation from the appropriate Committee, are as set out in Standing Order 43(6) as follows:

“In scrutinising an instrument the appropriate committee shall among other things consider the instrument with a view to determining and reporting on whether it requires to be drawn to the special attention of the Assembly on any of the following grounds, namely, that –

(a) it imposes a charge on the public revenues or prescribes the amount of any such charge;

(b) it contains provisions requiring any payment to be made to any Northern Ireland department or public body in respect of any approval, authorisation, licence or consent or of any service provided or to be provided by that department or body or prescribes the amount of any such payment;

(c) the parent legislation excludes it from challenge in the courts;

(d) it purports to have retrospective effect where the parent legislation confers no express authority so to provide;

(e) there appears to have been unjustifiable delay in the publication of it or in the laying of it before the Assembly;

(f) there appears to be a doubt whether it is intra vires or it appears to make some unusual or unexpected use of the powers conferred by the parent legislation;

(g) it calls for elucidation;

(h) it appears to have defects in its drafting; or on any other ground which does not impinge on its merits or the policy behind it.”

1.4 Standing Order 43(7) provides that the Examiner shall, where practicable, report on a statutory rule or draft statutory rule before any resolution or motion relating to that statutory rule or draft statutory rule is moved in the Assembly.

2. Assembly procedure in relation to statutory rules

Statutory rules which are laid before the Assembly may be subject to one of the following Assembly procedures. The procedure to which any statutory rule is subject will be set out in the parent legislation.

Rules Subject to Negative Resolution

A statutory rule that is subject to the negative resolution procedure is made by the rule making body, often a Department, and laid before the Assembly. It has effect when its ‘comes into force’ date is reached.

It can be annulled by resolution of the Assembly within the ‘statutory period’.[1] It is then void from the date of that annulment.

The statutory period is set out in the Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954. It is 30 calendar days or ten days on which the Assembly has sat after the date on which the statutory rule was laid before the Assembly, whichever is the longer.[2]

Rules Subject to Confirmatory Resolution

A statutory rule which is subject to confirmatory procedure is made by the rule making body, often a Department, and laid before the Assembly.

It ceases to have effect within a specified period provided for in the parent legislation unless approved by a resolution of the Assembly within that time.

Rules Subject to Affirmative Resolution

A statutory rule which is subject to the affirmative resolution procedure is made by the rule making body, often a Department, and laid before the Assembly.

It shall not come into operation unless and until affirmed by a resolution the Assembly.

Rules Subject to Draft Affirmative Resolution

A statutory rule which is subject to the draft affirmative procedure is laid in draft before the Assembly by the rule making body, often a Department. It may not be made unless and until affirmed by a resolution the Assembly.

3. Statutory rules to which attention is drawn in this report

3.1 Breach of the 21 day rule

The 21 day rule is the established rule of parliamentary practice whereby a Department or other rule-making body should, in the case of a statutory rule that is subject to negative resolution, allow a minimum of 21 days between the laying of the statutory rule and its coming into operation.

The 21 day rule acts to protect those who may be affected by changes in the law from being subject to those changes before they have had a reasonable opportunity to understand the effect of the changes and what they must do to satisfy any requirements.

Accordingly, a statutory rule should be laid at least 21 calendar days before it is due to come into force (including the date of laying) and only be brought into force on the twenty-second day at the very earliest.

The 21 day rule also operates to ensure that the Assembly may carry out scrutiny of a statutory rule before it comes into force.  A Department or other rule-making body should not breach the 21 day rule unless there exists a compelling need for urgency which it should set out fully at the time of laying of the statutory rule in question.

Only in the most exceptional circumstances should a statutory rule that is subject to negative resolution be laid after it has come into operation and, where it is so laid, a full explanation of the circumstances giving rise to that should be given.

I draw the attention of the Assembly to the following statutory rules on the ground that, in each case, the Rule was laid in breach of the 21 day rule.

S.R. 2021/284: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (2021 Consolidation) (Amendment No. 7) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

The Regulations were made on 14 October 2021, laid on 15 October 2021, and came into force on 15 October 2021.

The Department has acknowledged, in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Regulations, that the Regulations were laid in breach of the 21 day rule explaining the reason for the breach. I am content that the Department, on this occasion, has provided a satisfactory reason for the breach.

S.R. 2021/286: The Provision of Health Services to Persons Not Ordinarily Resident (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

The Regulations were made on 21 October 2021, laid on 21 October 2021, and came into force on 25 October 2021.

The Department has acknowledged, in correspondence, that the Regulations were laid in breach of the 21 day rule explaining the reason for the breach. I am content that the Department, on this occasion, has provided a satisfactory reason for the breach.

3.2 Drafting

S.R. 2021/252: The Financial Assistance (Aluminium Composite Material       (ACM) Remediation Fund) (Private Residential Properties over 18m)    Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

The Financial Assistance (Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) Remediation Fund) (Private Residential Properties over 18m) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 (the Regulations) are drawn to the special attention of the Assembly in relation to clarifications which the Department confirms will be made to their drafting.

The Department confirms that it will make these amendments at the earliest opportunity.

The Regulations were made by the Department in exercise of the powers conferred by section 1(2) of the Financial Assistance Act (Northern Ireland) 2009 (the 2009 Act).

Sub-section 1(1) of the 2009 Act provides that the powers conferred by section 1 are exercisable if the First Minister and deputy First Minister, acting jointly, determine – (a) that exceptional circumstances exist, (b) that it is desirable to provide financial assistance to prevent, control or mitigate any aspect or effect of those circumstances, and (c) that such assistance ought to be provided in accordance with a scheme or schemes under this section.

Sub-section 1(2) of the 2009 Act provides that the relevant department may, at any time within 3 months from the date of the determination under subsection (1), by regulations make a scheme for the provision of financial assistance for any purpose mentioned in subsection 1(1)(b).

The Department has confirmed that, in relation to the Regulations, a relevant determination was made by the First Minister and deputy First Minister, acting jointly and that the Regulations were made within 3 months of the date of the relevant determination. However, this was not stated in the introductory text to the Regulations.

The Department has confirmed that it will amend the introductory text of the Regulations to state that a determination has been made by the First Minister and deputy First Minister acting jointly, stating the date of the relevant determination.

 

Angela Kelly                                                                   

Examiner of Statutory Rules

5 November 2021

 

Appendix:

Statutory Rules Subject to Northern Ireland Assembly Procedure

Subject to the confirmatory resolution procedure:

2021/291: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings) (Amendment) (No.7) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

S.R. 2021/292: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021 (Amendment No. 18) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

Subject to the negative resolution procedure:

S.R. 2021/252: The Financial Assistance (Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) Remediation Fund) (Private Residential Properties over 18m) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

S.R. 2021/284: The Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (2021 Consolidation) (Amendment No. 7) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

S.R. 2021/286: The Provision of Health Services to Persons Not Ordinarily Resident (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2021

 

Published by the Northern Ireland Assembly under the Open Northern Ireland Assembly Licence (http://data.niassembly.gov.uk/licence.aspx)

This information contained in this document is available online www.niassembly.gov.uk

For more information please contact:

Northern Ireland Assembly

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Telephone: 028 90 521137

Textphone: 028 90 521209

E-mail: info@niassembly.gov.uk

ISBN: 978-1-78619-467-1

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