On 12 June 2018 the Committee published its First Special Report: Transparency and Accountability in Subordinate Legislation. The response from the Government was received on 10 September 2018. The response is appended below.
Thank you for your letter of 20 June, following the publication of the Committee’s report on Transparency and Accountability for Statutory Instruments. I am grateful to the Committee for its work and I have asked that the report be circulated to all Government departments so that colleagues are aware of the issues raised by the Committee.
I am writing to provide an update on the specific recommendation in the report referenced in your letter. At paragraph 3.25 of the report the Committee states in relation to the free issue procedure:
A more effective and appropriate modern procedure would probably be to allow readers to register for email or text alerts when a statutory instrument is replaced for the purpose of rectifying errors. The Committee invites the Government to consider whether a process of this kind should be instituted and aligned to the existing free issue procedure.
My office has been liaising with the Legislation team at the National Archives who, on behalf of the Queen’s Printer, welcome the report. The team have asked me to convey that transparency and accountability are cornerstones of the work that they undertake to publish legislation. With approximately two million users accessing www.legislation.gov.uk per month they understand that their role is also closely associated with the rule of law and public access to the laws of the land.
The legislation website currently offers a range of RSS feeds that users can access so that they are notified of publishing events such as new legislation and draft legislation (by type) as well as any amendments to specific items of legislation that the user may have an interest in following. There is not currently a feed for legislation that is published under the free issue procedure but, having reflected on the report from the Committee, the National Archives can see the benefits that such a feature would provide for users. They are therefore actively investigating options for making information regarding the reissuing of statutory instruments more easily accessible to users of legislation.gov.uk as part of their ongoing work to enhance this service in order to meet users needs.
My office will put your Clerks in contact with an official at the National Archives so that the Committee can be updated as this work progresses.
I am copying this letter to the Leader of the House of Lords.
Published: 14 September 2018