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Thursday 17 June 1999



The Scotland Act 1998 (Agency Arrangements) (Specification) Order 1999 (1999 No. 1512)


Proposed handling

This statutory instrument, made under section 93 of the Scotland Act, was laid on 10 June. It is subject to negative resolution procedure at Westminster and in the Scottish Parliament i.e. it is subject to annulment. The Order will come into force on 1 July but if either Westminster or the Parliament so resolves nothing further may be done under the instrument after the date of such a resolution.

The Clerk gave notice in the Business Bulletin of Friday 11 June of the fact that the Order had been laid (as required by rules 10.1.3 and 10.9). Under rule 10.1.3, the Clerk must refer the Order to the lead committee and the Subordinate Legislation Committee unless the Parliament has decided that it is to be considered by the Parliament.

There is a 40 day period during which the Order is subject to annulment although no account is taken of any time during which the Parliament is in recess for more than 4 days. That is provided for in article 13(1) of the Scotland Act 1998 (Transitory and Transitional Provisions) (Statutory Instruments) Order 1999 (1999 No.1096) as applied by article 4(4). Therefore 23 out of the 40 days will fall before the Parliament’s summer recess which means that the Order will be subject to annulment for another 17 days after the recess. The period of 40 days in which the instrument is subject to annulment at Westminster will end in mid-July because the Westminster recess begins later. In relation to the Scottish Parliament the period will not end until mid-September (16 September).

The Order could of course be referred to a committee. However—

    1. although committees have been established their membership is not yet known;
    2. it will not be easy to identify a lead committee for the Order which straddles a range of functions;
    3. the general intention behind the subordinate legislation provisions was that such instruments made under the Scotland Act would be considered by the Parliament.

It is therefore recommended that the Parliament considers this Order. This does not mean that time must be set aside for the Parliament to debate it; however, should a member think that nothing further should be done under the Order, then he/she would take that straight to the Parliament by motion (rule 10.7). The matter would not go through committee. The motion would be considered by the Parliamentary Bureau for inclusion in the Business programme.

So that the Order can follow this course the Parliamentary Bureau must by motion propose that the Parliament consider the instrument (rule 10.1.3). Accordingly the Bureau will lodge a motion for the Order to be considered by the Parliament.


Purpose of Order

As at present, it may be administratively convenient for a Department of the UK Government, or a public authority, to undertake activities for or on behalf of the Scottish Ministers, or for the Scottish Ministers’ officials to undertake activities for or on behalf of the UK Government. Where these amount simply to the provision of administrative, professional or technical services, this can be agreed by the Ministers without the need for legislation, but where one is exercising the functions of the other (e.g. determining grant applications) more formal arrangements are needed.

Section 93 of the Scotland Act 1998 allows Ministers of the Crown to enter into agency arrangements with the Scottish Ministers for particular functions of one to be exercised by the other and vice versa. Such arrangements can only be made for functions which are specified in an Order under section 93. The above Order specifies a range of functions in connection for example with welfare foods, veterinary services, electoral law, packaging waste regulations and sea fisheries.


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