1.By a letter dated 16th September 2020, the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments requested a memorandum on the following point:
“Explain why regulation 2 did not substitute a date later than “2nd August 2020” to avoid a breach of the 21-day rule, having regard, on the one hand, to the need to give individuals affected by this legislation sufficient time to prepare for it and, on the other, to the fact that an announcement of policy intent may not lead to, and cannot be treated as, equivalent to a change in law.”
2.The Department announced on 29th June 2020 that mandatory vehicle testing would be reintroduced for light vehicles from 1st August and the relevant guidance for vehicle users was concurrently updated. It had been made clear to vehicle users in earlier announcements that the policy of postponing tests would be kept under review and ended when widespread testing could resume.
3.The statutory instrument to implement this change was not laid until 23rd July, seven full days before its coming into force, due to the Department’s focus on other urgent work related to COVID-19. The Department accepts that a lack of resource is not a sufficient reason for a breach of the 21-day rule but considers that the impact on vehicle users was mitigated by the earlier announcements.
4.Substituting, in mid-July, “2nd August 2020” for a date in mid-August to avoid a breach of the 21-day rule would have had a significant and detrimental impact: (a) more than 800,000 vehicle tests would have been affected, causing further disruption to the annual testing schedule; (b) the private vehicle testing industry would have continued to suffer a loss of income from testing; and (c) a late substitution of the date for reintroducing mandatory testing could have caused confusion among vehicle users about their legal obligations.
5.The Department regrets the breach of the 21-day rule and acknowledges that it should be complied with whenever possible. It was only due to the unique circumstances of urgent demands for resource and the major impact of any delay on the testing regime and industry, following several months of unprecedented disruption, that the breach occurred.
Department for Transport
22 September 2020
Published: 2 October 2020