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Lords announces major new inquiry into the process of law-making

The House of Lords Constitution Committee has launched a new inquiry into the legislative process and is asking for evidence to inform its work.

The inquiry will look at how legislation is prepared by Government and scrutinised by Parliament. It will consider how outside organisations and the public are involved in the process and how their role can be developed, including the possible uses of new technology. The Committee will also consider the possible impact of the UK withdrawing from the EU on the legislative process.

The inquiry is a follow-up to the Committee's highly influential 2004 report Parliament and the Legislative Process. Recommendations in that report which were subsequently introduced included a proposal that the Government should review all legislation five years after it is introduced and also a greater role for Parliament in pre-legislative scrutiny.

The Committee's new inquiry will run for a year and is divided into four stages:

  1. Preparing legislation for introduction to Parliament;
  2. The passage of legislation through Parliament;
  3. The delegation of power; and,
  4. Once legislation received Royal Assent.

The Committee is currently asking for written evidence on the first stage of its inquiry: ‘Preparing legislation for introduction to Parliament'.

Written evidence should be via the Committee's website by Sunday 16 October.

Further calls for evidence will be issued for the later stages of the inquiry as the Committee's work progresses.

Questions the Committee are inviting evidence on include:

  • How effective are current arrangements for delivering clear, coherent, effective and accessible draft legislation?
  • Are there improvements that could be made to deliver better and more understandable laws?
  • What impact will Brexit have on the volume and type of legislation Parliament considers? What changes will this require from Government and Parliament?
  • How could new technologies be deployed to support the development of legislation and allow better consultation?

Commenting Lord Lang of Monkton, Chairman of the Constitution Committee, said:

“How legislation is created and scrutinised is of vital importance. We need to ensure that bills reach Parliament in the best shape possible so the Parliament's limited time is not wasted on tidying up poor drafting or correcting ill-thought-out policy. It is increasingly being said that our laws are becoming too long, too complicated and that there are too many of them.

“The public and those affected by changes to the law increasingly expect to have a direct input into how those laws are made. We are interested to know how this can be facilitated, how their input can be most effectively used, and whether new technologies offer opportunities to improve that process.

“We will also consider the impact of Brexit on law making in the UK. Parliament will have to scrutinise numerous changes to the law when the UK leaves the EU, and will, in future, be required to scrutinise more legislation covering areas where laws are currently made in Brussels. We need to ensure that we have the processes in place to manage those challenges, and that the implications of Brexit for the legislative process are properly thought through.

“Our inquiry and report are only as strong as the evidence we receive and I would encourage anyone with an interest in this area to submit written evidence to us by the 16th of October.”

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