Report by Mr Barry
Field, Chairman of the Committee
1. In the Committee's view,
the deregulation procedure has worked extremely well. Sound proposals
by the Procedure Committee for Parliamentary examination of proposals
and draft Orders have been refined and developed in practice.
2. Those likely to be affected
by deregulation measures have had direct and effective access
to the Parliamentary process, often giving oral evidence to the
Committee in public. The examination of proposals has been detailed
and exacting, often exposing flaws and problems which have allowed
improvements to be made in the draft Orders eventually laid before
Parliament. Almost every amendment recommended by the Committee
has been made, which also reflects a co-operative approach on
the part of Government Departments. The Committee has proceeded
on the basis of cross-party consensus; no division has yet taken
3. Although addressed to
a specific category of instrument, the deregulation procedure
has provided valuable experience in systematic pre-legislative
scrutiny by a select committee. In view of the continuing interest
in more effective scrutiny of primary and secondary legislation,
the work of the Deregulation Committee may provide valuable lessons
in the next Parliament.
Report on the Committee's
4. The task of the Deregulation
Committee is to scrutinise legislation in the form of Deregulation
Orders. Details of the scrutiny work carried out by the Committee
in this Parliament are contained in the separate statistical summary.
The Standing Order to set up the Committee (SO No.124A) was passed
on 24 November 1994, and the Committee was appointed on 2 March
1995. The table therefore relates only to Session 1994-95 onwards.
5. When a proposal for a
Deregulation Order is laid before Parliament, the Committee has
a period of 60 days
in which to consider it and report to the House whether a draft
Order in the same terms as the proposal should be laid, whether
the proposal should be amended before a draft Order is laid, or
whether the proposal should not be proceeded with. By agreement
between the Committee and the Cabinet Office, which co-ordinates
Departments' deregulation activities, the Government has brought
forward Deregulation proposals at the rate of approximately one
a week. To date, the Committee has reported on all proposals
within the 60-day period for Parliamentary consideration.
6. The Committee has reported
on a total of 32 proposals since it was appointed.
It has recommended that one proposal should not be proceeded
with, that 13 proposals should be amended before a draft Order
was laid, and in 18 cases that a draft Order in the same terms
as the proposal should be laid. To date, with the exception of
one amendment, all the Committee's recommendations have been accepted
by the Government.
7. Under Standing Order
No.124A, the Committee must report on any draft Deregulation Order
within fifteen sitting days of the draft Order being laid before
Parliament, stating its recommendation whether the draft Order
should be approved. The Committee has met this requirement in
8. Any proposal laid before
Parliament has to be accompanied by an Explanatory Memorandum,
describing the purpose of the proposal, explaining how it conforms
to the requirements of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act
1994 and giving details of the public consultation on it.
The Minister is also required, when laying a draft Deregulation
Order, to lay a Statement explaining how, if at all, the original
proposal for the Order has been changed in the light of the Reports
of the Deregulation Committee and its sister Committee in the
House of Lords, and of any representations made to the Department
by other interested parties during the 60-day period.
9. The Deregulation Committee
has experienced no significant difficulties in obtaining further
information from Government Departments, which, as the promoters
of Deregulation Orders, have usually been keen to assist the Committee.
10. As far as other aspects
of the Committee's work are concerned, although the Committee
has power to travel within the United Kingdom, it has not done
so; and it has not exercised its power to appoint a specialist
This is defined by section 4(2) and (3) of the Deregulation and
Contracting Out Act 1994 (c.40) as the period of 60 days beginning
on the day on which the proposal was laid before Parliament, but
not including any time during which Parliament is dissolved or
prorogued or during which either House is adjourned for more than
four days. Back
64 As of 18 December 1996. Back
65 The Minister is required to provide this information by section 3(3) and (4) of the 1994 Act. Back