Post-legislative scrutiny inquiry announced

21/11/2012

An inquiry into post-legislative scrutiny has been announced today by the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee.

The committee is to examine ways in which the scrutiny of past Acts and other legislation by the Scottish Parliament can be improved.

With a general acceptance from across the parties and from external commentators that more could be done in this regard, the new inquiry is to examine how and when parliamentary committees could revisit past legislation to establish whether laws are operating effectively and as intended by the Parliament. 

Convener of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments (SPPA) Committee Dave Thompson MSP said:

"As a unicameral parliament, robust scrutiny of legislation by our committees is vital.  We only get one chance to make sure that the Bills we pass are well thought out and properly framed before they are enacted. 

“It is against that backdrop that we want to look closely at our process of post-legislative scrutiny, to ensure that Acts of this Parliament work as they were intended, perhaps revisiting new laws one or two years, or more, after coming into force.

“During our inquiry into parliamentary reform earlier this session, some reasonably clear views emerged on post-legislative scrutiny – that the concept was widely supported, that it was an area in which the Parliament could perform better and that the committees should play a leading role.  

“Having recently implemented new ways of working in the chamber, the SPPA Committee believes this is a timely opportunity to look more closely at the process of post-legislative scrutiny and how we can make improvements.” 

The remit for the inquiry is:

To consider possible approaches to carrying out post-legislative scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament, and consider what changes are required to Standing Orders and the Parliament’s procedures.

Details of a call for written evidence on the committee’s new inquiry can be found on its webpage.  The closing date is 25 January 2012.

Background

The Committee heard evidence on post-legislative scrutiny from a number of witnesses during its inquiry into parliamentary reform, and received several written submissions on this subject.

Rather than concentrating on whether there is a need for more post legislative scrutiny (which appears to be generally accepted), the Committee is interested in focussing on practical ways in which the Parliament could carry out improved post-legislative scrutiny.

Key questions

The Committee is particularly interested in the following questions—

  • What is the most appropriate format for post-legislative scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament and, in particular, its committees?
  • What are some of the barriers to undertaking post-legislative scrutiny and how can they be overcome?
  • Are there examples of good practice in carrying out post-legislative scrutiny inside and outside the Parliament which could be shared?
  • What information and support is required by MSPs in order to carry out effective post-legislative scrutiny?
  • What type of legislation should be the subject of post-legislative scrutiny?
  • When should post-legislative scrutiny be carried out following the passage of legislation?
  • Are changes needed to Standing Orders or other parliamentary procedures to facilitate improved post-legislative scrutiny?

This will inform a decision by the Committee on whether to take oral evidence as part of the inquiry and, if so, from which individuals / organisations.