House of Lords Select Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments

Press Release
Tuesday 9 September 2008


The House of Lords Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee has today published a call for evidence seeking views from the education sector about the cumulative impact on schools of statutory instruments (e.g., regulations) issued by Government.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) produced more statutory instruments (SIs) than any other Government Department in the last parliamentary session, and the majority of these affect schools.

In July of this year, DCSF issued nearly 30 SIs including 12 orders which confirmed revised programmes of study for all National Curriculum subjects at key stage 3. The Committee has observed that the peak time for bringing schools-related SIs into force is in August or early September, giving little notice before the start of the new school year.

The Committee has previously voiced concern that too many SIs, in many sectors, made too quickly without clear strategy or guidance may not achieve the policy objective behind them.

The Committee has now decided to carry out a focused study into the impact of this process on schools. In parallel, it is keen to hear from any other sectors which have similar experience of legislative congestion.

Commenting Lord Filkin, Merits Committee Chairman, said:

"No-one doubts the importance of the schools sector, or the need for proper regulation - but could the process be managed better? We want to hear from head-teachers, governors and others whether the way and the timing of the statutory instruments issued by DCSF could be improved, so as to make the achievement of their policy objectives more efficient and effective.

"As a Committee, we have repeatedly stressed the need for Government Departments to follow best practice in managing their secondary legislation. This includes effective planning of when statutory instruments will be finalised, laid before Parliament, and brought into force.

"We have heard the views of a number of Government representatives on these issues. We think it right to balance these by inviting those affected by SIs to comment on the practical impact of secondary legislation."

The deadline for written submission of written evidence is 31 October 2008. Full details can be found on the Merits Committee web page.

Notes to Editors

1. The full Call for Evidence, submission details and previous Committee reports on the Management of Secondary Legislation, can be found at

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. The current members of the Merits Committee are :

Lord Filkin (Chairman)
Baroness Butler-Sloss
Lord Crisp
Baroness Deech
Viscount Eccles
Lord James of Blackheath
Baroness Kingsmill
Lord Lucas
Baroness Maddock
Lord Rosser
Baroness Thomas of Winchester

5. Further information about the Committee's work can be found at:

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