Legislation / Legal

ScotGov: The Scottish Government has dropped plans to bring in new legislation which could have led to charities acting as 'market operators' having to apply for a licence. The provisions were contained within the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill currently going through Parliament, based on recommendations from a Task Group set up by the previous administration which reported in 2004.
 
However, after concerns were raised by charities & community groups, Ministers have agreed that the plans should now not go ahead. Section 125 contains the element of the Bill concerning the removal of the exemptions from the requirement for market operators licences for churches, charitable & similar organisations.  The Government will lodge amendments to remove this proposal at Stage 2 of the Parliamentary process, expected to begin in February/March 2010.
Press release ~ Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Bill ~  Task Group Report On Civic Government Licensing
 
MoJ: The Ministry of Justice has published a set of reforms that ‘aim to rebalance the legal aid budget to ensure that the £2.1bn currently spent every year goes as far as possible in favour of civil help for those who need it most’. The reforms intend to make better use of the criminal legal aid budget and include changes that rationalise payment structures.
 
In addition to these reforms, the MoJ will pursue a 2nd round consultation to explore reforms to Crown Court advocates fees.  On average, advocates acting for the prosecution receive 18% less pay than if they were acting for the defence, which could be creating an incentive for barristers to favour defence work over prosecution work.  A separate response to the proposals on experts' fees will be published in January 2009.
Press release ~ Legal Aid: Funding Reforms
 
HO: A range of former so called ‘legal highs’ including GBL, BZP and man-made chemicals sprayed on herbal smoking products such as ‘Spice’ are now illegal. In addition, 15 anabolic steroids, testosterone-like products often used by sports people and increasingly being used by the general public for their growth promoting properties, are to be controlled as Class C drugs, alongside two growth promoters, following advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).
Press release ~ Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) ~ Drug Specific reports ~ HO Drugs website
 
WAG: New regulations governing the electronic tagging of sheep came into force on 31 December 2009.  While the UK’s campaign to make sheep tagging voluntary was ultimately unsuccessful, Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones has taken every opportunity to minimise the impact of sheep tagging regulations on Welsh farmers and has secured a number of key concessions from the full regulations.
 
This means that Welsh lambs under 12 months old that are intended for slaughter in the UK will be allowed to be tagged with a single non-electronic identifier.  This differs from the full EID which requires one visual & one electronic identifier and carries an individual number which must be recorded in flock records and (from 2011) on movement documents. Farmers can contact the central WAG helpline on 01267 245022 or email: sheepEID@wales.gsi.gov.uk for further advice.
Press release ~ Electronic identification
 
DfTUtility companies who do not finish their road works on time will face increased charges under new plans announced by Transport Minister, Sadiq Khan MP. The current maximum daily charge is £2,500, but to encourage companies to complete works on time, increases to as much as £25,000 may be justified.
 
Also proposed are ‘lane rental schemes’ for those companies wanting to carry out works on the busiest roads and good practice guidance for councils & utility companies.  This guidance will outline how to make sure that those affected most by street works disruption are informed properly, for example, through working with bus companies to ensure that they can plan alternative routes and by text messaging residents & commuters affected by road works.
Press release ~ Street Works Summit Report and Action Plan ~ DfT: Streetworks
 
DefraDefra and the Welsh Assembly Government have added additional invasive non-native species to the list of those that cannot be introduced into the wild.  A total of 63 species will be added to the list, including wild boar, floating pennywort, the European Eagle owl and the Monk Parakeet.  

These are species that have the ability to spread in the wild, causing damage to the environment, economy, public health and the way we live. Changes to Schedule 9 will take effect from 6 April 2010.
Press release ~ Public consultation (closed) on the Review of Schedule 9 to the Act 1981 and the Ban on Sale of Certain Non-native Species ~ Wildlife management: Non-native species
 
HOSkilled migrants seeking to renew their visas will now be required to apply for a compulsory ID card, Border & Immigration Minister, Phil Woolas, has announced. Since the scheme was introduced in November 2008 for students renewing their visa under Tier 4 of the Points Based System (PBS) and people seeking to renew marriage visas, more than 130,000 cards have been issued.

From now on, the scheme will be extended to incorporate skilled foreign workers under Tier 2 of the PBS.  This brings the roll out forward from April 2010 and adds around 40,000 foreign nationals a year to those currently being issued with the cards.
Press release ~ Identity Cards for Foreign Nationals (ICFN)
 
ScotGov: New regulations laid in the Scottish Parliament last week will hopefully allow greater use of the private rented sector for rehousing those made unintentionally homeless. Local authorities will have the option to negotiate short assured tenancies with private landlords; ensuring stringent conditions are met in terms of informed consent, housing support and whether it is affordable to the tenant.
 
At the conclusion of a tenancy between 6 & 12 months, should the landlord & tenant agree to a renewal of the tenancy for a period of no less than 12 months, then this would constitute a discharge of duty by councils.
Press release ~ ScotGov - Private renting ~ Firm Foundations
 
NESpecies re-introductions are widely regarded as an essential conservation technique and are employed worldwide with increasing frequency. A large number of governments – including those in Britain - are now legally obliged (under the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Habitats and Birds Directive), to consider the restoration of native species to their former range. In addition, well organised re-introduction projects can have a range of wider conservation benefits, which help to justify the substantial resources required to implement them.
 
Natural England has a regulatory role in species re-introductions in England.  They are responsible for licensing the taking of protected species from the wild for release elsewhere, consenting the collection of donor stock & releases on SSSIs, and, for certain listed species, licensing the release of animals into the wild.
 
In the last 20 years, 6 animals which had previously become extinct in England have been re-introduced: the red kite, corncrake, pool frog, large blue butterfly (all projects in which Natural England and its predecessors have been involved in), the osprey and great bustard. Natural England is currently considering the re-introduction of three species: white-tailed eagle, hen harrier and short-haired bumblebee.
Press release ~ International (IUCN) guidelines on re-introductions ~ Convention on Biological Diversity ~ Habitats and Birds Directives (see links to left) ~ Natural England: Species re-introduction
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