HL Deb 20 November 2000 vol 619 cc60-1WA
Lord Hughes of Woodside

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What progress has been made in the use of the powers in Section 8 of the Electronic Communications Act 2000. [HL4600]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton

The Electronic Communications Act 2000 contains in Section 8 a power to amend legislation by statutory instrument, to authorise or facilitate electronic communication or storage. The first order laid before Parliament under this section is the Companies Act 1985 (Electronic Communications) Order 2000 amending company law, of which a draft was laid before the House on 23 October under the affirmative resolution procedure.

The second order to be laid before Parliament is planned to be an order by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), to allow electronic communication between the DETR and local authorities of Housing Revenue Account subsidy determination and decisions.

In her memorandum submitted to Parliament during the passage of the Electronic Communications Bill in January 2000, my honourable friend the Minister for Small Business and e-Commerce said, "The Government envisages that the first Order would be subject to an affirmative resolution, but that Orders under clause 8 would normally be subject to a negative resolution. After the first Order therefore the affirmative resolution procedure would be used only exceptionally, with any Orders that raised major issues of principle."

As no major issues of principle are raised by the DETR order, my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, DETR, has made it subject to the negative resolution procedure. This will enable it to come into force in time for the annual determination of Housing Revenue Account Subsidy. The order has therefore been made, and is likley to come into force, before the company law order.