Select Committee on Regulatory Reform Seventh Report

Assessment of the proposal against the tests in the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 and in Standing Order No. 141(3)

6.  Section 1 of the LRRA states that the Minister may by Order make any provision which he considers would serve the purposes of removing or reducing any burden, or the overall burdens, resulting directly or indirectly for any person from any legislation. "Burden" is defined by section 1(3) as:

a)  a financial cost;

b)  an administrative inconvenience;

c)  an obstacle to efficiency, productivity or profitability; or

d)  a sanction, criminal or otherwise, which affects the carrying on of any lawful activity.

7.  The Explanatory Document gives details of a range of burdens which will be removed or reduced by the Order.[8] Most significant of these is the requirement under the current system that approved verifiers who assess that equipment merely needs to be adjusted must return for a second visit, when the adjustment may take place and a local authority inspector is able to verify and stamp the equipment. In the meantime, the pump must either be withdrawn from use or operate at a setting which is within the permitted margin of error but less accurate than may be possible. If the draft Order is approved, the need for a second visit would be overcome.

8.  In identifying that requirement as a significant burden the Department assumes that verification by adjusters is not a permitted option as things stand. However, the contrary might well be argued (i.e. that repair implicitly covers adjustment.) If that is correct, there would be no direct burden to remove or reduce. We accept that the position is unclear and that this uncertainty operates as a burden in itself.[9]

9.  We therefore agree that the Order will remove or reduce a burden which results from section 11A of the Weights and Measures Act 1985.

10.  Section 3(2) of the LRRA requires the Minister to be satisfied that the draft Order meets certain preconditions. These are that:

  • the policy objective could not be satisfactorily secured by non-legislative means;
  • the effects of the proposed changes to the law are proportionate to the policy objective;
  • the proposed changes strike a fair balance between public and private interests;
  • the proposed change to the law does not deprive anyone of a necessary protection;
  • it will not prevent anyone from continuing to exercise a right or freedom that they might reasonably expect to continue to be allowed to do;
  • it is not of "constitutional significance."

11.  We are charged with assessing whether the pre-conditions in the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 (LRRA) have been met, as well as examining various tests (those set out in Standing Order 151, appropriateness for delegated legislation and compatibility with European Union obligations). Having examined these, we believe that the draft Order meets all relevant requirements and tests.

8   ED p10 paras 34-36 Back

9   Note that under section 1(2) of the 2006 Act burdens resulting indirectly from legislation are covered as well as those that result directly from it, and that legislation being hard to understand can itself count as a burden - see section 1(6) as read with section 1(4) Back

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