COMMONS

New standards needed for good legislation

20 May 2013

The House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee calls on Parliament and Government to work together to develop agreed standards for making good legislation.

There has been repeated criticism in recent years from a variety of sources about both the quantity and quality of legislation.

The Committee’s inquiry into Ensuring standards in the quality of legislation has considered these criticisms, analysed the core problems and causes of bad quality legislation, and looked to provide solutions for both the Government and Parliament to improve the quality of legislation.

Committee Chair

Graham Allen MP, Chair of the Committee said:

"Within this inquiry the Committee has considered what we, as parliamentarians, can do to improve legislation. It is important not to lose sight of the fact that poor quality legislation is not simply a problem for Parliament, but can be the cause of problems for our constituents."

He added:

"We are grateful to the Scottish Parliament, Northern Ireland Assembly and National Assembly for Wales for their submissions. They have adapted the Westminster model in order to improve the quality of their legislation; it is now the turn of Westminster to look at their processes and adapt them for use here."

Conclusions

The Committee has concluded that it would be beneficial for Parliament and the Government to work together to agree standards for what makes good legislation, and as a starting point for discussion publishes a draft Code of Legislative Standards with the report.

The Committee also recommends the creation of a Joint Legislative Standards Committee to provide oversight of the Cabinet's Parliamentary Business and Legislation Committee’s approach to and use of the finalised Code of Legislative Standards, to ensure that the quality standards set out in the Code of Legislative Standards are met.

The Committee considers that these recommendations would also improve the quality of constitutional legislation, in particular, by requiring the Government to adopt an agreed test to identify constitutional legislation and thereby improve Parliament’s scrutiny of it.

Futher information

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