LORDS

The Government's new approach to consultation

The Committee took evidence on the Government’s “new approach to consultation” announced in July 2012, which is intended to adopt a “more proportionate and targeted approach” to consultation.

The Committee was particularly interested in the appropriate timing and duration of consultation exercises, and the implications for different groups in society of the Government’s expectation that consultation will be “digital by default”.

The Committee welcomed views from interested parties, by 30 November 2012, in advance of an oral evidence session with Mr Oliver Letwin, MP, Minister for Government Policy which took place on December 11. The uncorrected oral transcript of this session is below.

The Report and the Government's response can be found at the following locations:

The Committee received 550 submissions, including 477 emails from individuals who made submissions for the inquiry following an online campaign by the Institute of Employment Rights.

The evidence and oral transcript can be found in the following links: 

The House of Lords debated the Committee's Report on 11th March. The Hansard account can be found at the following link:

 

For a number of years the accepted standard has been for 12 weeks’ public consultation unless the proposing Department can give a reasonable justification that a shorter period is more appropriate to the specific circumstances, for example because the amendment is very technical affecting only a few specialists or because those affected have been involved in the negotiation of the Directive that the instrument implements and are content with the outcome.

In a Written Statement, on 17 July 2012,  Mr Letwin announced a new approach to consultation  which proposes that consultations should follow a range of timescales at the discretion of the Department rather than defaulting to a 12-week period, and that consultation can take different forms but the expectation is that it will be "digital by default". The Committee has decided to look into this proposal in more depth and has issued a call for evidence seeking views from anyone interested in how the process of consultation should be conducted.

Chair of the Committee, Lord Goodlad, said:

"The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee’s task is to scrutinise all new regulations to see whether they are likely to achieve their stated policy objective.  We look to the consultation exercise and how it was conducted to inform our consideration of how well proposed legislation might work in practice. We shall therefore take evidence from the Minister, and that session will be better informed if all interested parties let us know their views, by the end of November."

The Committee is  particularly seeking views on:

  • under what circumstances it might be reasonable for the Government to decide not to consult on policy development;
  • when - and for how long - consultation exercises should be held;
  • how the expectation that consultations would happen digitally will impact on different groups in society; and
  • whether this new approach to consultation will lead to improvements in the process and outcomes.

We would be grateful for concise written responses by 30 November 2012 in advance of an oral evidence session with Mr Oliver Letwin, MP, Minister for Government Policy which will take place on December 11. It is not our current intention to call other witnesses for oral evidence.

For information about how to submit your views, please see the call for written evidence. Material can be submitted by email to [email protected] or by post to Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW and should arrive no later than the end of November 2012.

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    • Reports and associated evidence - reports and evidence featuring written submissions and corrected oral evidence published at the conclusion of Committee inquiries. Evidence is periodically updated over the course of an inquiry and is not finalised until the relevant Report is published.
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