Clause 73 - Regulations

Civil Aviation Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 6th March 2012.

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Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Shadow Minister (Transport) 4:30 pm, 6th March 2012

I beg to move amendment 60, in clause 73, page 44, line 9, leave out subsection (3).

Photo of Linda Riordan Linda Riordan Labour, Halifax

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 61, in clause 73, page 44, line 16, leave out ‘other’.

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Shadow Minister (Transport)

The Minister mentioned the affirmative procedure for statutory instruments. The intention of these probing amendments is to seek to ensure that all regulations in the Bill have to be made by positive resolution. If our interpretation is correct, it would be useful if the Minister explained why it is proposed to make the regulations under clause 28(9), clause 77, paragraph 32 of schedule 2 and paragraph 6 of schedule 6 through the negative procedure. We should have thought that the affirmative procedure was more proper.

Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers The Minister of State, Department for Transport

I am grateful for the opportunity to scrutinise the clause. I emphasise that the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee in the other place will scrutinise each of the statutory instrument powers in greater detail in due course, but I appreciate that hon. Members will want to consider the rationale for the provisions in the clause now as well.

The amendment seeks to change the statutory instruments in part 1 that are currently subject to the negative procedure to the positive procedure. We believe that where the Bill currently specifies the negative procedure, that will provide sufficient parliamentary scrutiny, having regard to the nature of the provisions. As hon. Members may know, many of the provisions dealing with subordinate legislation require the affirmative resolution procedure to which all of the following, for example, are subject: changes to the definition of an airport, which we discussed earlier; changes to the definition of “airport operation services” in clause 68; and regulations made under clause 9 clarifying when a person is to be treated as  having overall responsibility for the management of an airport area where more than one person exercises some management responsibility.

In response to the hon. Member for Poplar and Limehouse, I shall look at each area where the Bill provides for negative resolution. The first is clause 28(9) and paragraph 32 of schedule 2, relating to time limits. The provisions empower the Secretary of State to modify time limits for an appeal to the Competition Commission regarding licensed content. The provisions are primarily procedural and do not empower the Secretary of State to make fundamental changes to the competition appeals regime. Accordingly, we do not feel that the more intense scrutiny provided by affirmative resolution is necessary.

The next relevant matter is in clause 7, which contains two powers to make subordinate legislation, both of which are also subject to negative resolution. The first is in clause 77(10), which empowers the Secretary of State to exempt an airport area. It is applicable only where the airport was not open to commercial traffic in the previous year or where the airport area consists of all or part of a small airport—that is, an airport with fewer than 5 million passenger movements in the previous calendar year. Those requirements are necessary to ensure that the power cannot be used in circumstances where European legislation may prohibit the use of the powers, namely the directive on airport charges. The predominant purpose is to allow military airports to be exempted from regulation under the Bill. Having regard to the qualifications to the use of the power, and to its expected purpose, we have again taken the decision that it is not necessary to require subordinate legislation made under this power to be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

A further relevant power is contained in clause 77(12). That empowers functions that may be carried out by or on behalf of the Crown to be exempted from economic regulation under part 1 of the Bill, in addition to those functions listed in clause 77(12) such as police functions. For example, if in future health screening took take place at an airport, that might be added to the exemptions contained in clause 77. The Crown operator of those functions could in theory come within the scope of economic regulation without such an exemption. The underlying policy is that Crown functions should be accountable to and through Parliament, rather than to the CAA. In light of that, we think it appropriate that the exercise of this power should be subject to the negative resolution procedure.

Schedule 6(6) contains the final power relevant to the matters raised by the shadow Minister. It allows the Secretary of State to amend paragraphs 4 and 5, which list the relevant persons to whom disclosure of information may be permitted under the listed statutory provisions, in order for those persons to carry out their regulatory functions. Having regard to its limited purpose and the frequency with which it can change, again, we do not think it necessary to require subordinate legislation made under this power to be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.

I hope that has given the shadow Minister some insight into the distinction drawn between delegated powers that we propose should be subject to affirmative resolution, and those which are sufficiently technical and procedural to be subject to negative resolution. I hope that provides the assurance he wants.

Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Shadow Minister (Transport)

I am grateful for the Minister’s clarification and beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 73 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 74 to 76 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules 8 to 10 agreed to.

Ordered, That further consideration be now adjourned.— (Bill Wiggin.)

Adjourned till Thursday 8 March at half-past Nine o’clock.