Following my letter to you of 1 July, I am writing on behalf of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (SLSC) to seek information about the volume and flow of Brexit-related legislation in the forthcoming months. As we approach the end of the transition period, we anticipate that there will be a surge in Brexit-related instruments. We have in the past been given estimates of the volume and flow of instruments by the Government. See, for example, our 42nd Report, Session 2017–19, HL Paper 214 in we publish correspondence from Mr Heaton-Harris MP, on behalf of the former Department for Exiting the European Union, about the volume and flow during October 2018 to March 2019. This information enabled us to resource the committee appropriately so that we were able to scrutinise instruments effectively for the assistance of the House and at a pace that met the needs of the Government.
So that we can ensure thorough and timely scrutiny of forthcoming Brexit-related instruments, I would be grateful if you could provide the following information for each of the months of September, October, November and December 2020:
Please could you also indicate which departments are likely to laying the preponderance of instruments.
I understand that you may only be able to provide indicative figures at this stage. We will invite you provide further figures as the programme of laying crystallises. I have no doubt that these figures will be of assistance also to the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments and the European Statutory Instruments Committee. I am therefore copying this letter to their respective Chairs, Jessica Morden MP and Andrew Jones MP.
Finally, I know that you will understand that it would assist the various scrutiny committees if the flow of instruments, over what is likely to be a busy period, were as even as possible. While we know that it will be necessary to accommodate some fluctuations in the rate of laying, we would urge the Government to make every effort to ensure these are at a minimum.
16 July 2020
Thank you for your letter of 15 July regarding the upcoming programme of Transition Period statutory instruments (SIs) between September and December 2020. The Government is keen to assist your Committee and the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments in its scrutiny function.
The Parliamentary Business and Legislation (PBL) Committee works with all departments to prepare the Government’s legislative programme. We expect to lay between 250–300 Brexit-related SIs before the end of the year to ensure readiness for the end of the Transition Period. Of these, we expect approximately 55% will be subject to the affirmative procedure and 45% subject to the negative procedure.
As negotiations continue and policy positions become clearer, departments are working to finalise their programmes and the required procedures. Currently the biggest departmental programmes are likely to be HMRC and the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs. You will understand that it is difficult to provide precise details at this stage but I hope that the indicative figures below provide assurances to the Committee and assist in your planning. The laying of draft affirmative instruments is likely to be concentrated in September and October due to the policy content of the majority of SIs being dependent on the outcome of negotiations. It is therefore not possible to lay these earlier than in Autumn.
The current breakdown is as follows:
The PBL Committee continues to work closely with departments to ensure that they only prioritise critical legislation between September and December. However, it is not possible to provide an indicative figure of the number of non-Brexit-related Sis we expect to lay at this time. Not least because further secondary legislation will be needed as the Government continues to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic on which we continue to provide regular updates.
21 July 2020