House of Lords Press Release

Thursday 15 January 2009
Contact: Laura Llewelyn 020 7219 6640


On Tuesday 20 January 2009, the House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee will take evidence from Jim Knight, MP, Minister of State for Schools and Learners at the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).

The Merits Committee is carrying out an inquiry into the cumulative impact on schools of statutory instruments (e.g., regulations) issued by Government.

In the 2006-07 Parliamentary session, DCSF produced more statutory instruments (SIs) than any other Government Department; in subsequent sessions, the Department has continued to issue large numbers of regulations. Most of these affect schools.

The Merits Committee has received comments from a range of organisations representing schools, teachers and parents, which highlight the problems caused by the volume of regulation, and by shortcomings in the Government's handling of SIs.

Commenting Lord Filkin, Merits Committee Chairman, said:

"Since we launched our inquiry, we have received extensive evidence from schools practitioners and others that demonstrates how hard they find it to cope with the welter of schools-related regulations from Government, and casts doubt on their efficacy as a means to bring about desired improvements.

"We know that the Government is working towards the end of improving the education system. However, the evidence before us raises questions about whether such wide-ranging regulation is the right means to do so.

"We look forward to hearing the response of the Schools Minister to these criticisms."

The evidence session will take place at 3.45pm on Tuesday 20 January 2009 in Committee Room 3A of the House of Lords.

Notes to Editors

  1. The evidence session is open to the public; journalists wishing to attend should access Parliament via St Stephen's Entrance where they will be directed towards the Committee Corridor. Please arrive in plenty of time to allow for security screening.
  2. An audio stream of the evidence session will be broadcast live at:
  3. The Merits Committee issued a Call for Evidence for the inquiry on 9 September 2008. That Call for Evidence, together with written evidence subsequently received, and transcripts of oral evidence sessions, can be found at
  4. The House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee (the Merits Committee) was established in 2003 and began work in April 2004. Its task is to examine each statutory instrument presented to the House and to draw attention to any which deal with matters of significant public policy interest or show defects in certain areas. The Committee's Reports are intended to inform the scrutiny process of the House of Lords, without seeking to determine what view the House will finally take of individual instruments.
  5. Each year, the Merits Committee scrutinises about 1,100 statutory instruments laid by Government. These may be called Regulations, Orders or Rules, and are made under powers given to Government Departments by Acts of Parliament.
  6. In its 3rd report of the current session (published on 15 January), the Merits Committee reports on the Schools Admissions Code (and five related statutory instruments) which DCSF are bringing into force on 10 February 2009, to apply to admissions to schools in 2010-11.
  7. The current members of the Merits Committee are:
    Lord Filkin (Chairman)
    Baroness Butler-Sloss
    Lord Crisp
    Baroness Deech
    Viscount Eccles
    Lord Hart of Chilton
    Lord James of Blackheath
    Lord Lucas
    Baroness Maddock
    Lord Rosser
    Baroness Thomas of Winchester
  8. Further information about the Committee's work can be found at: