Thursday, 9 December 2010

Absolutely Crackers

Do you recall parliament debating The Pyrotechnic Articles (Safety) Regulations 2010? No, neither do I. I can tell you that these regulations stem from this countries requirement to implement (or transposition to use the government's terminology) the European Directive on the placing on the market of pyrotechnic articles, 2007/23/EC (see discussion paper here).

Following the consultation exercise this was then discussed by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, JCSI, as can be seen in the annex (search for 1554) to the report of the meeting dated 21 July 2010 here. The annex lists the regulations under the title 'Instruments subject to annulment' which sounds a bit odd since the legislation doesn't exist. However, the way that Statutory Instruments are handled are explained in a word document snappily titled "Statutory Instrument Practice. A manual for those concerned with the preparation of statutory instruments and the parliamentary procedures relating to them" (follow link from here). On page 65 it explains how the negative procedure works. As far as I can tell it is this negative procedure that the JCSI are applying to the proposed pyrotechnic regulations. As you will have understood if you have ploughed through the 'use of negative procedure' explanation, the instrument is laid before the house and if either house resolves within 40 days that the 'address be presented to Her Majesty praying that the instrument be annulled, no further proceedings may be taken under the instrument after the date of the resolution, and Her Majesty may by Order in Council revoke it'. In other words if nobody does anything in forty days then it becomes law.

Thus there never was any debate about these regulations and they are now law. Amongst these regulations are the fact that Christmas crackers are category 1 fireworks. In regulation 15(2) it states that the 'minimum age limit for supply of category 1 fireworks is 16 years'. So now your shopkeeper will have to check the age of the people to whom it sells Christmas crackers. All because the following 12 people didn't think it would be a problem:

Lord Campbell of Alloway (Conservative)
Lord Clinton-Davis (Labour)
Baroness Eccles (Conservative)
Earl of Mar and Kellie (Liberal Democrat)
Lord Rees Mogg (Crossbench)
Baroness Stern (Crossbench)
Mr George Mudie MP (Labour, Leeds East) (Chairman)
Mr Robert Buckland MP (Conservative, South Swindon)
Michael Ellis MP (Conservative, Northampton North)
John Hemming MP (Liberal Democrat, Birmingham, Yardley)
Mr Ian Liddell-Grainger MP (Conservative, Bridgwater and West Somerset)
Toby Perkins MP (Labour, Chesterfield)

Is that how democracy is meant to work?


John Hemming said...

It is about vires not substance.

Paul Coombes said...

john, having followed your link then I presume that you are the John Hemming MP mentioned in my blog. I presume that you came across my blog by searching for your own name, my traffic is so small that I am sure you are not a regular reader. Anyway, lets hope that your search picks up my response because I have a question. What exactly do you mean by your comment? With my negligible grasp of Latin I interpret your comment as 'It is about power not substance'. I have puzzled over this all week and I cannot come up with a better interpretation than 'I have the power and do not care about the substance'. Please tell me I am wrong.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

That is exactly how I wouldf interpret his comment and your final assumption is not wrong either!