Call for Evidence: Post-implementation reviews

Select Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments

What happened next? Inquiry into post-implementation reviews

The Committee

The Committee's role is to consider the policy impact of statutory instruments (SIs) and to draw those of significance to the attention of the House. One of our terms of reference requires us to consider whether the instrument imperfectly achieves its policy objective. We use a number of factors in making that assessment but the information provided by the Government Department in the form of Explanatory Memoranda and Impact Assessments is an important element. But how accurate are these documents at predicting what will happen? Do Departments review the result after implementation to see if the legislation is working as they anticipated? Do they review their assumptions about take up or cost to provide better information for future policy developments?

Origins of this inquiry

Each year we examine over a thousand SIs. As well as commenting on individual items, the Committee builds impressions of how Government Departments are performing. Although we do see some instruments that are making changes to legislation after a thorough review of how the previous legislation has been working, these are few and far between. Much more frequently we hear comments from those affected saying that "new statutory instruments, or amendments to existing instruments, are introduced too frequently, and with insufficient understanding of their impact". So how many SIs are actually reviewed and to what effect? We are now seeking evidence on this question.

Form of the inquiry

The inquiry will have two main strands:

  • It is accepted good practice to review the implementation of a policy three years after it has taken effect - we have therefore asked the National Audit Office to conduct a statistical survey of a significant number of SIs from 2005.

  • We will also select a small number of SIs for in-depth review, seeking feedback from both the Department and those affected by the regulations. The initial list below is drawn from our past reports, instruments on which the Committee expressed doubt over some aspect of the policy implementation, for example costs or timetable. As well as demonstrating whether adequate information was provided at the time, this will also help the Committee judge whether its original concerns were valid (a weblink to the relevant report is given next to each item). Further examples may be added later, selected from feedback from the public or the NAO's initial survey findings.

Initial list of items for in-depth review:

  • Licensing Act 2003 (Transitional provisions) Order SI 2005/40 from DCMS : set out revised arrangements for licensing pubs, clubs, etc. There was concern whether enough time had been allowed so that the practical requirements to implement these regulations would be in place by the date when they came into effect.

  • Communications Act 2003 (Maximum Penalty for Persistent Misuse of Network or Service) Order SI 2006/1032 from DTI/BERR: because of concern about silent calls this Order raised the maximum penalty that the Office of Communications (OFCOM) could impose for persistent misuse of communications networks from £5,000 to £50,000.

Feedback from implementation- what we are asking you to tell us

We would welcome comment on how you have been affected by any of the SIs in the list set out above. It would be helpful if you could address the following questions from your experience of the legislation:

a) was the legislation easy to understand and apply to your situation?

b) did it cost you more or less to implement than the Department suggested?

c) was the legislation effective in achieving its stated objective?

d) were there any unintended consequences, or problems with the way the legislation worked?

e) now you have experience of the legislation can you suggest ways in which it could be simplified or made to operate more cost-effectively?

f) are you aware of any arrangements that would enable you to give feedback on your practical experience of the legislation to the Department that issued it?

We would also be interested in any broader comments on this review.

  • Can you offer any other examples of Statutory Instruments that demonstrate good or bad practice in post-legislative review? Or that we might consider adding to our list for in-depth consideration?

Please note that we will be using the criteria for post-implementation review set out in the Better Regulation Executive's Impact Assessment Toolkit:

"A Post implementation review establishes whether implemented regulations are having the intended effect and whether they are implementing policy objectives efficiently. It is not intended to review the effects of the policy itself or to determine whether the intended policy is still desirable."

Further information about the Committee is at:

This call for evidence has been sent directly to a wide range of bodies that might be interested, but please forward it if you can think of someone who might wish to contribute.

Guidance for those submitting written evidence

The deadline for submitting written evidence is Friday 11 September 2009.

Evidence and inquiries should be addressed to:

The Clerk
Select Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments
House of Lords
London SW1A 0PW

Telephone: 020-7219 8821
Facsimile : 020-7219 2571
Email :

The submission should be signed and dated, together with a note of the author's name and status and of whether the evidence is submitted on an individual or corporate basis. Those submitting evidence should only do so on the questions where they wish to contribute and should not feel obliged to answer every question.

Concise submissions of 5 pages or fewer are preferred; longer submissions should include a summary. Evidence must be clearly printed or typed on single sides of A4 paper, unstapled, and should be set out in numbered paragraphs. Electronic copy (MS Word 2002) should be supplied on disk or by email to

Witnesses may publicise their written evidence themselves, but in doing so must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee.

Evidence becomes the property of the Committee, and may be printed or circulated by the Committee at any stage. If your evidence is not printed, it will in due course be made available to the public in the House of Lords Records Office. Personal contact details supplied to the Committee will be removed from evidence before publication and from the copy deposited in the Records Office. However, personal contact details will be retained by the Committee Office and used for specific purposes relating to the Committee's work, for instance to seek additional information or to send copies of the Committee's Report.

Witnesses who submit written evidence may be invited to give oral evidence at Westminster and transcripts of such sessions are published.