HL Deb 05 June 1996 vol 572 cc131-2WA
Lord Harris of High Cross

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they consider it appropriate for a privatised industry to use inherited bylaws (or create new bylaws) that involve criminal penalties for breach rather than use civil remedies like other companies;

Whether they consider that privatised companies enjoy an unfair commercial advantage when they inherit the power to enforce, by use of the police and the courts, rules or bylaws previously granted under statutory authority against activities that are not illegal outside the context of the rules or bylaws;

Whether they consider it appropriate for privatised companies to use bylaws framed under secondary legislation to enforce policies taken for purely commercial reasons; and

Whether they will institute a review of the powers inherited by privatised companies to enforce bylaws Northern Ireland the figures are for 1993–94, the latest year available. For England figures are given for both 1993– and 1994–95.

through the magistrates' court when these bylaws are not to prohibit unlawful activity but merely to satisfy a commercial activity.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch)

A number of statutory bodies have bylaw making powers for the purpose of discharging their statutory duties. It is for Parliament to decide in each case whether a company should inherit such powers or whether new powers are conferred on privatisation. The creation of criminal offences is the prerogative of the Crown and confirmation by the relevant Secretary of State or Minister is needed to provide Crown sanction. The Government have no plans to institute a review of existing powers.