Scrutiny of the BRE and annual
52. Earlier this year, the Better Regulation
Commission was replaced
by the Risk and Regulation Advisory Council (RRAC), an independent
advisory panel of seven members, with a mandate to focus on risk-based
management of regulation.
Before its replacement, the BRC had provided independent oversight
of the BRE as well as a degree of independent and high-level thinking.
For instance, the BRC itself recommended greater focus on risk-based
regulation and the establishment of a body with that focus as
its main remit. It also recommended consideration of regulatory
the dismantling of the BRC seems to have led to a perception that
there is something of a vacuum of both scrutiny and strategic
thinking. The Institute of Chartered Accountants expressed concern
about this issue,
as did the CBI. The
TUC regretted the BRC's demise
and said that there was a need for a thinktank.
The HSE said that there was a role for the RRAC in "perking
Most notably, when we asked ACTAL
during our visit to the Netherlands which single measure they
believed would make the biggest favourable impact on the UK system
of regulatory reform, the response was that the BRC should be
53. The Minister told us that high-level strategic
thinking is provided by the Government. Her view was based on
her belief that it was principally the Government that had driven
the regulatory reform agenda during the past six or seven years.
We acknowledge the merit in that view, but in the light of the
comments we have referred to we wonder whether there remains a
role outside Government for independent challenge. We believe
that there is. Accordingly, we recommend that the Risk and
Regulation Advisory Council should be given a clear role in providing
independent challenge in the regulatory reform area.
54. Currently, the BRE reports on a six-monthly
basis to the Prime Minister, but there is no system of regular
reporting to Parliament. The NCC suggested that an annual stock
take by BRE was desirable in general terms.
We are also aware of a wider calls for greater parliamentary scrutiny
in the area of regulation.
55. In order to provide greater accountability
and a measure of independent review, we recommend that the BRE
submit an annual report to Parliament, addressing performance
against its clearly defined objectives. The report should distinguish
between the work of Departments and the work of the BRE itself.
56. Finally, on our recommendation, the House
of Commons Liaison Committee suggested that the position of BRE
Executive Chair be added to the Government's proposed list of
appointments that should in future be the subject of a pre-appointment
hearing. The Government
has, as yet, not accepted that view. Given the Minister's claim
in her evidence about the importance of better regulation and
the degree of high-level support for the BRE, we believe that
the Government might wish to act positively in this regard. We
therefore recommend that, given the high importance attached to
the regulatory reform agenda, the Government give serious consideration
to including the position of Executive Chair of the BRE on the
list of senior posts that should be subject to future pre-appointment