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uk consultation policy : a critique January 10, 2013

Posted by Bradley in : consultation , trackback

The House of Lords’ Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee has published a rather critical report on the Government’s new approach to consultation (the written evidence is also published as well as a transcript of a committee session with Oliver Letwin). There’s lots of useful information in the report about the various groups which would like to and do participate in consultations and the difficulties they face in engaging with their members within the time frames set for consultations. For example, the “National Farmers’ Union (NFU) complained about consultations issued during the summer harvest period.” The Government announced a move away from a standard 12 week period for domestic consultations (which in any case was not a hard and fast period) while arguing for 12 weeks for EU consultations. It’s pretty striking to me that some of the more critical reactions seem to have come from business groups. For example:

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said that the Department for Business (BIS) had launched a three-week consultation process about the implementation of the new employee-owner status, followed by an overlapping consultation on implementation of Nuttall Review recommendations, “which allowed 13 working days for stakeholders to consult their members and experts, conduct research, formulate their responses and achieve sign-off.”

Many of those who provided evidence to the Committee argued that there was insufficient transparency about consultations and that they were not well co-ordinated within and among government departments. The Committee recommends a website which would provide information about all open consultations. This could find a home on gov.uk (I don’t find this to be an attractive or as yet useful website but it is where they seem to be trying to centralise information about government in the UK). In addition, the Committee calls for an independent review to begin this month with findings to be published by Easter 2013 (end of March).

Update: the idea of a website which would list all open consultations is credited in the Committee’s report to Wendy Bradley (no relation) who writes an interesting blog at tintax.com. Here is a link to her post on the consultation consultation.

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