Government pilots new scheme to consult public over drafting of legislation

As someone who has often responded to government consultations on legislation, either on behalf of the party or as an interested individual, and even sometimes got the law changed, I’ve often been disappointed how few people respond to those consultations. In very technical areas, that may not matter too much, but there is a huge swathe of legislation where wider input can provide sensible ideas. It is, after all, the outsider to a system who can often spot what has become second nature to those in the system but no longer makes sense (if it ever did).

So it is good to see the government taking a step beyond previous efforts with the launch this week of a pilot public reading stage for a piece of legislation – the Freedoms Bill in this case. As the official announcement says,

This pilot project represents the first step towards meeting the Coalition’s commitment to introduce a public reading stage for all Bills, allowing the Government to test the technology and ensure the system works well.

People can leave their comments on all aspects of the Bill, from plans to restore rights to non-violent protest to a review of libel laws, by visiting an easily accessible website – www.publicreadingstage.cabinetoffice.gov.uk.

The comments will then be collated by the Government and presented to the Public Bill Committee, a cross-party House of Commons Committee that will scrutinise the Bill.

Simon Dickson has some apposite observations on the technical approach of the site so far, but the supply of the comments to MPs is an important step as traditionally consultations have resulted in views being submitted to those who drafted the plans in the first place. Even with the best people and the best of intentions, there is a risk with that.

Public Bill Committees have a fairly patchy record, so it is by no means guaranteed that giving them this extra role will result in MPs making the work of those committees more meaningful. But it gives the MPs who want to take scrutinising and improving legislation seriously more material with which to do so and it gives the public more information with which to hold MPs to account for the seriousness and competency with which they go about their work.

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

2 Comments

  • I like the sound of this however I’m not sure about how popular this will be. I suppose time will tell.

    I know I would make use of it and encourage others to do the same now and then but there’s a huge culture change needed imho. We need to go from the people expecting to just be told what to do, to the people feeling a compulsion or even an obligation to help govern themselves.

  • Patrick Smith 19th Feb '11 - 2:33pm

    The new fresh air of `Coalition Government’ is now making it possible for a `Public Reading Stage’ in the piloted Freedoms Bill and is very welcome .But the Public Reading Stage should not be merely for the `nerds’ and the `politicos’ as it apears inaccessible on-line to the most minimally aware computer literate brain.

    I suggest that the Government take on the IT services of Simon Dickson as his `apposite observations’ should be noted and heeded and an easy door opening rule applied for comments and remarks on this important Freedoms Bill.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarBrian Ellis 27th Jan - 7:14pm
    Simon Hebditch is right. Our main enemy are the Tories. Whilst we sat in coalition they organised in every seat that we held. The result...
  • User Avatarcim 27th Jan - 7:11pm
    Simon Hebditch: I think it's trickier than that, in that whichever of the other major English parties the Lib Dems oppose more in the long-term,...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 27th Jan - 6:53pm
    Just watched our local BBC news and gather that the Lib Dems on Hull City Council are advocating a Universal Basic Income, where everyone in...
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 27th Jan - 6:32pm
    The Liberal Democrat’s did just what Nick Tyrone says needs to be done in 2010 and onwards, and that’s what most people think it is...
  • User AvatarJohn Roffey 27th Jan - 6:20pm
    On a related matter to my last post - does anyone know anything about Agenda 21? This good lady seems to think it is of...
  • User Avatarexpats 27th Jan - 6:17pm
    ................. writer Nick Tyrone has written a typically astute and pithy article which cuts to the heart of the relationship of the Liberal Democrats to...