The Constitution Committee today calls for the Government to make changes to the way that legislation is developed to enable thorough parliamentary scrutiny and improve the quality of laws on the statute book.
In the report, the first as part of its ongoing inquiry into the legislative process, the Committee focuses on the preparation of legislation before it enters Parliament. The Committee say that better policy preparation will result in better legislation and a stronger and more accessible legal system.
The Committee makes a range of recommendations including:
- That legislation should be made more accessible and easier to understand, for practitioners and the public.
- That consolidation is urgently needed in several areas of the law (e.g. immigration law and sentencing law).
- That the Government should routinely publish the evidence base for proposals and that, if a robust evidence base is not available, the Government should explain why it is nevertheless appropriate to proceed.
- That piloting the application of policy is an important way of developing effective policies over time, and that the Government should develop guidance for departments setting out when piloting is appropriate or desirable.
- That Government should publish draft Bills for pre-legislative scrutiny more frequently and that it should become a regular feature of the legislative process.
Commenting on the report Baroness Taylor of Bolton, Chairman of the Committee, said:
"Improving the quality of legislation is in everybody's interest. We call on the Government to publish draft Bills and policy evidence as a regular part of the legislative process to facilitate better scrutiny. We also believe the Government should consolidate complex areas of the law – such as immigration and sentencing law – bringing the interlocking webs of statutes and regulations together into a single text to make it more accessible and comprehensible."