Press Notice: Inquiry into post-implementation reviews

House of Lords Select Committee on the Merits of Statutory Instruments

House of Lords Press Release
Embargo: Immediate 24 June 2009
Contact: Laura Llewelyn - 020 7219 6640

What happened next? Inquiry into post-implementation reviews

It is fundamentally important for government to know whether legislation is actually achieving its objectives. Unless legislation is reviewed, departments will not learn if its regulations  have been effective or what forms of action work best. So we want to find out in practice how many regulations are actually reviewed after implementation to see if they are working as anticipated.

When setting up a new scheme, policy officials have to make assumptions about likely take-up or cost, but how accurate are these predictions? Do Departments review their Explanatory Memoranda and Impact Assessments to provide better information for the development of future legislation?  After the regulations are in place how often do Government  Departments check what happened next?

Because good quality information is a vital tool to our scrutiny work, the Merits Committee is now seeking evidence on these questions.

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 to see how many have been reviewed.

  • We will also select a small number of SIs for more 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, 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:

  • Draft Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (Disclosure of Donor Information) Regulations (made as SI 2004/ 1511) from Department of Health: Removed donor’s anonymity allowing a child to seek information about the donor once they are 18.

  • Horse Passports (England) Regulations SI 2004/1397 from DEFRA required that horses being slaughtered for meat were to have a record of medicines administered; the  scheme was extended to all horses in England as a welfare measure.

  • 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 for the practical requirements to implement these regulations to be in place by the date when they came into effect.

  • Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations SI 2005/639 from DfT: Implemented a Directive limiting professional drivers’ hours.

  • Waste (Household Waste Duty of Care) England and Wales Regulations SI 2005/2900 from DEFRA: to combat fly-tipping. The regulations required householders to check that those who remove their rubbish are authorised to do so and will dispose of it appropriately, or risk a £5,000 fine.

  • 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 to £50,000.

  • Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations SI 2006/3315: DEFRA delayed implementation of this EU Directive requiring special arrangements for the disposal of old electrical goods, to put in place a system that would be effective.

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

The Committee 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) did the legislation achieve 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?

How to send in your views

Full details of where to send a contribution and in what form are set out in the Call for Evidence. This 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.

The deadline for submitting written evidence is Friday 11 September 2009 but  we would be grateful to receive suggestions for other instruments to consider, as soon as possible.

Notes for Editors

1. 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."

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.

Further infomation about the Committee is at:

3. 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

4. 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

Press Officer: Laura Llewelyn - Tel: 020 7219 6640