Ensuring standards in the quality of legislation

Inquiry status: Report published on Monday 20 May 2013 and the Government response was published on Thursday 25 July 2013.

The First Report of Session 2013-14, Ensuring standards in the quality of legislation (HC 85) was published at 00.01 hrs on Monday 20 May 2013.

The Committee launched its inquiry Ensuring standards in the quality of legislation on 20 January 2012.

There has been repeated criticism in recent years from a variety of sources about both the quantity and quality of legislation, despite changes to the legislative process in the House of Commons (Public Bill Committees), initiatives to consult on some legislative provisions in draft before their formal introduction (pre-legislative scrutiny) and the beginnings of a process for evaluating the effectiveness of legislation following its enactment (post-legislative scrutiny). It has also been despite the existence of a Cabinet Committee (Parliamentary Business and Legislation) which is supposed to ensure that Bills are well-prepared before they are presented to Parliament. The Better Government Initiative, Hansard Society and the Leader’s Group on House of Lords working practices have all suggested that a parliamentary Legislative Standards Committee could help to improve the quality of legislation.

In this inquiry we ask whether there is a need for improved legislative standards and if so, what changes to existing processes in Parliament or Government would contribute to improved legislative standards? We analyse whether a new mechanism designed to ensure improved legislative standards (such as a Legislative Standards Committee) should be introduced, and we consider whether there a case for differentiating between different types of legislation.