Mark and Ruth look at the growing fashion for re-writing Bills mid-air as they pass through Parliament, adding on all sorts of policy bells and whistles at the last minute.
What information and evidence does Parliament need to enable it to oversee government law-making? Is Parliament currently provided with sufficient information and, if not, how can this be improved?
On 19 January 2022, the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and the Hansard Society co-hosted this webinar on ‘Parliamentary Scrutiny, Evidence and the Rule of Law’, which explored the role of evidence, impact assessments, explanatory memorandums and other related material in facilitating parliamentary scrutiny of government law-making by delegated legislation. The event followed the publication of a Bingham Centre Report analysing the first 18 months of coronavirus legislation from a Rule of Law perspective, and forms part of the Hansard Society’s Delegated Legislation Review, which is developing proposals to reform the processes by which delegated legislation is made and scrutinised.
Justin Madders MP, Shadow Minister for Employment Rights, previously Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care
Selvin Brown, Director (Net Zero Buildings), BEIS and Policy Profession Board Member
Stephen Gibson, Chair of the Regulatory Policy Committee
Baroness Bakewell of Hardington Mandeville, member of the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee
Professor Jeff King, UCL Laws (Chair)
The coronavirus pandemic has exposed and exacerbated weaknesses in the processes used to enact legislation. Laws have often been made at breakneck speed, resulting in a reduction in the quality and quantity of impact assessments and other documents explaining and justifying government policy positions. This is problematic from the perspective of both the Rule of Law and effective Parliamentary scrutiny. The Rule of Law requires the law-making powers of the government to be prescribed and controlled by Parliament, but Parliament cannot properly scrutinise the policies and rationale underpinning proposed legislation without timely and digestible information justifying the proposed legal changes.
The need for good quality supporting documentation is paramount where the government introduces new laws via delegated legislation; a form of government law-making where Parliament’s scrutiny role is already limited. The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a general trend towards the increased use of delegated legislation to enact significant policy changes. However, there are long-standing criticisms of the procedure by which delegated legislation is made and approved. This includes frequent criticism by the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee of the quality of Explanatory Memorandums, which are meant to provide a free-standing explanation of what each piece of delegated legislation does and why it is being introduced.
Delegated legislation is the most common form of legislation in the United Kingdom. It is the legislation of everyday life, impacting millions of citizens daily. But the terminology and procedures that surround it are complex and often confusing. This explainer unpacks delegated legislation - the terminology and Parliament's role in scrutinising it - to reveal more about how delegated legislation really works.
What a week! Suella Braverman's sacking from Government was immediately eclipsed by the appointment of former Prime Minister David Cameron as the new Foreign Secretary. Mark and Ruth explore the many questions this raises, not least for scrutiny of foreign affairs by MPs.
The Prime Minister’s decision to cancel the next stage of HS2 has given rise to criticism that once again the Government has ridden roughshod over Parliament. Just over 1,300 hours of legislative time have been spent on four HS2-related Bills over nine Sessions in the last decade. Why has it taken so long and what now happens to that legislation?
When parliamentarians reassemble at Westminster on 7 November for the start of the new Session, all eyes will be on the legislative programme to be announced in the King’s Speech. Speculation about the likely date of the next general election is rife at Westminster, but until the date is settled there are a lot of parliamentary issues still to be tackled. We’ve picked out a few things to look out for on the political horizon.