Strike legislation blunder

The government has introduced a Bill to Parliament to reduce the impact of strikes on key services. The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill was introduced on 10 January. A second reading of the Bill is scheduled for today.

However the Regulatory Policy Committee has issued a warning. The RPC provides an independent view on better regulation and how to promote this across government. It aims to ensure due consideration is given to limiting the unnecessary burden of regulation on businesses and civil society organisations. It intends to support the development of appropriate, evidence-led regulation. It is an independent body sponsored by the Department of for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Its members are experts from a variety of backgrounds, voluntary, business, academia etc.

The RPC has issues a statement this lunchtime (16 January) pointing out the new Bill is deficient. Every Bill due to be laid before Parliament is supposed to be supported by an Impact Assessment. The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill does not have one.

An impact assessment does what it says on the tin. It is an analysis of the likely impact of a range of possible options for implementing a change in policy. It should be produced by the appropriate department for any government bill or draft bill which may have a significant impact on business, voluntary organisations or the environment.

This current Bill, more than many recently considered, will have a very significant impact on business and the voluntary sector.

The impact assessment (IA) is published by the department and is not a parliamentary paper. It is revised to reflect changes made to the bill during its passage through Parliament.Ā 

So it is significant that the RPC reports “An IA for this Bill has not yet been submitted for RPC scrutiny; nor has one been published despite the Bill being currently considered by Parliament.”

The RPC pointedly note that: “The RPC produces its opinions to help departments ensure the evidence and analysis in their impact assessments (IAs) is sufficiently robust.” Presumably the absence of one would therefore suggest a lack of evidence and analysis. Which calls into question whether the passage of the current Bill through Parliament is appropriate.

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