Parliament at night

Delegating appropriately? Evidence on the draft Deregulation Bill

Ruth Fox at Joint Committee on Draft Deregulation Bill Acts of Parliament regularly grant power to ministers and other bodies to make new law (known as delegated or secondary legislation) using processes that involve considerably less scrutiny than the original Act received. In these circumstances it is important that Parliament look closely at what powers are being delegated and whether the scrutiny processes being applied are appropriate.

On Monday 4th November Hansard Society Director Ruth Fox gave evidence to the Joint Committee on the draft Deregulation Bill about the proposed new delegation of powers to repeal legislation than is deemed to be ‘no longer of practical use’.

 

Drawing on the Society’s research on delegated legislation (supported by the Nuffield Foundation), she outlined to the Committee a range of concerns about the proposals in the draft bill. These included:

Ruth Fox at Joint Committee on Draft Deregulation Bill

  • The creation of yet another different delegated legislation process (despite a government commitment last year to avoid new processes wherever possible) and the comparatively weak nature of the scrutiny in that process.
  • The failure for the government to learn the lessons of previous laws – particularly the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 and the Public Bodies Act 2011 – in respect of the safeguards that Parliament expects for legislation of this kind. For example, not including the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly on the list of required consultees (for matters affecting those countries), not specifying the details of what consultation the government is required to conduct, and not excluding areas such as constitutional law from the scope of the Bill.
  • The lack of clarity as to what laws the government wished to repeal using the proposed new process and the lack of constraints on what they could select for repeal.
  • The risk of judicial review if a person or organisation was materially affected by a repeal made through this process.

The Committee’s evidence session can be watched in the embedded video below or on the Parliament website.

In the video Dr Fox’s evidence begins at 17:12:10. There is a break for a vote at 17:37:00 and the session resumes at 17:46:20. The session concludes at 18:00:40.

 

Newsletter

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter for updates on our latest research, publications, services and events

Subscribe here