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Lords consult on Government's consultation process

What do people think of the Government's new approach to consultation? That's the question that the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee are asking in advance of their oral evidence session with Oliver Letwin, Minister for Government Policy at the Cabinet Office, in December.

In July 2012, the Cabinet Office published new guidance on how consultations would be carried out in future, highlighting two particular changes: Departments would follow a range of timescales rather than defaulting to a 12-week period; and the expectation was that consultations would be “digital by default”, meaning that they would usually be conducted electronically. The Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has asked Mr Letwin to appear before it in order to answer questions on the new process.

Chair of the Committee, Lord Goodlad, said:

“The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee's task is to scrutinise all new regulations to see whether they are likely to achieve their stated policy objective.  We look to the consultation exercise and how it was conducted to inform our consideration of how well proposed legislation might work in practice.

“We shall therefore take evidence from the Minister, and that session will be better informed if all interested parties let us know their views, by the end of November.”

The Committee are particularly seeking views on:

  • under what circumstances it might be reasonable for the Government to decide not to consult on policy development;
  • when - and for how long - consultation exercises should be held;
  • how the expectation that consultations would happen digitally will impact on different groups in society; and
  • whether this new approach to consultation will lead to improvements in the process and outcomes.

Mr Letwin's evidence session is scheduled to take place on 11 December 2012.

To see the Consultation Guidance published by the Cabinet Office on 17 July 2012, visit the Cabinet Office website.

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