House of Lords Select Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments

Reports and Publications

A full list is available of the published reports and publications of the House of Lords Select Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments.

Current Session: 2009 - 10

Previous Sessions: 2008-09 | 2007-08 | 2006-07 | 2005-06 | 2004-05 | 2003-04

Latest Report

Seventeenth report of session 2009-10
(Published 9 April 2010)
Draws the following instrument to the special attention of the House:

  • Social Security (Claims and Payments) Amendment (No. 2) Regulations 2010 (SI 2010/870)

and includes information and statistics on:

  • The work of the Committee in Session 2009-10

The next meeting of the Committee is scheduled for 2 March. The Draft Exeter and Devon (Structural Changes) Order 2010 and the Draft Norwich and Norfolk (Structural Changes) Order 2010, which propose the creation of unitary authorities for Exeter and Norwich, are scheduled to be considered at this meeting. (A call for written evidence, with a closing date of Monday 22 February, was issued for these two instruments).

What happened next? A study of Post-Implementation Reviews of secondary legislation

The Government Response was published by the Committee on 28 January as its 8th report of this session..

In this Inquiry report published on 12 November, the Committee found that most departments are failing properly to examine whether each significant piece of secondary legislation is achieving the outcome intended for it. Departments do not know whether their legislation is effective, and are missing opportunities to improve the quality of both their policy formulation and delivery methods. In particular departments need to do more to evaluate how the original instrument performed before bringing forward amending regulations.

The NAO conducted a benchmarking study for us: it found that 46% of the sampled SIs with Impact Assessments from 2005 had not been subject to any evaluation of their effectiveness after 4 years, and only 29% had received a full post-implementation review. Although this figure is rather distorted because a few Departments seem much better geared up for the process than the rest. 

The report’s main recommendations are:

  • Government should take a more active role in supervising both Impact Assessment (IA)  and Post-implementation Review(PIR) systems to ensure that the approach is appropriate and the reviews are done. The formats for both should be more closely aligned in terms of content and method.
  • Departments should ensure that all IAs include a clear statement of the  baseline position against which the change introduced by the legislation can later be measured to assess whether the success criteria have been met.
  • Departments should propose arrangements for PIR in the consultation exercise on the draft regulations that are appropriate and proportionate to the content of the regulations. This applies just as much to public sector legislation as to that which affects business.
  • All PIRs/evaluations on Statutory Instruments should be published online, alongside the original IA.
  • Each Department should establish and maintain an online register of its legislative portfolio to track PIR commitments, aid consolidation, and also to smooth transition when machinery of government changes are made

The cumulative impact of statutory instruments on schools

In our report on the cumulative impact of statutory instruments on schools the Committee argues for less Government reliance on Regulations, in order to leave greater room for the professionalism of practitioners to deliver the objectives of improving education. The government response agreed to use common commencement dates and we received further comments on that response from some of the witnesses. The House debated the Merits Committee's report on 19 June ( See Hansard ).

The Management of Secondary Legislation

Our Report "The Management of Secondary Legislation: follow-up". It commented on a number of aspects of the way that the legislative process was managed across Whitehall and made a number of recommendations on how the quality and planning of SIs might be improved.

Our original Report on the Management of Secondary Legislation was published in March 2006.