Select Committee on Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Tenth Report



Letter from the Clerk to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

The Committee considered the proposal for this order at its meeting today and requested that the Department give more written information about how the proposal furthers the object mentioned in section 1(1)(b) of the Regulatory Reform Act 2001.

Paragraph 7.1 of the Department's Statement acknowledges that the proposal could be said to be made with a view to re-enactment for Wales of the provision having the effect of imposing the requirement for approval. The Secretary of State is said to consider the slight burden for Wales to be proportionate to the benefits of approval. The Committee invites you to state what the Secretary of State considers to be the benefits of the requirement for approval and why they are felt to be proportionate for Wales in view of the action proposed to be taken in England.

15 January 2003

Letter from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to the Clerk

Thank you for your letter of 15 January requesting information about how our proposal furthers the object mentioned in section 1(1)(b) of the Regulatory Reform act 2001.

The aim of this proposed order was always to remove a burden in England and to maintain the status quo in Wales. While acknowledging that the proposal could arguably be said to engage s.1(1)(b) of the Regulatory Reform Act 2001, it was felt that the better view was that as the sole aim of the order was the removal of the requirement for approval in England, s.1(1)(b) was not engaged.

It has become clear neither your Committee nor the Regulatory Reform Committee in the House of Commons shares the Department's view. The Secretary of State considered that the very slight nature of the burden for Wales in retaining the requirement for approval enabled him to proceed with an order lifting the burden only in England. In Wales there was one authority operating the scheme making a total of 6 grants in the financial year ending in April 2002, while in England for that same year there were 56 authorities making 670 grants. The Secretary of State also considered that the lack of experience of administering the scheme that exists amongst local authorities in Wales justified retaining the burden. In the event of the scheme becoming more widespread in Wales, the requirement to seek the approval of the National Assembly for Wales would have enabled good practice to develop.

However, given that housing functions have been devolved to the National Assembly for Wales, it is difficult to see how the Secretary of State could be sufficiently informed to take a view on the effect of re-imposing the burden (and whether or not the burden would be proportionate to the benefit) without requesting detailed evidence from the National Assembly. In the circumstances it has therefore been decided to re-draft the order so as to give effect to the proposal on which consultation took place, while avoiding the making of provision which arguably involves the exercise of the power in s.1(1)(b). A copy of the re-drafted order is attached [see Annex 2 to the Report].

I hope this is sufficient to satisfy the Committee.

22 January 2003

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