Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee

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40.50The committee, which was established in 2003, examines the merits of instruments subject to parliamentary proceedings.1 With certain specified exceptions, the committee scrutinises any instrument laid before both Houses of Parliament. It is required to draw to the special attention of the House those instruments which are politically or legally important or give rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House; those which may be inappropriate in view of changed circumstances since the enactment of the parent Act; those which may imperfectly achieve their policy objectives; those for which the explanatory material laid in support provides insufficient information to gain a clear understanding about the instrument's policy objective and intended implementation; where there appear to be inadequacies in the consultation process which relates to the instrument; and where the instrument appears to deal inappropriately with deficiencies in Retained EU law. The committee may conduct broader inquiries from time to time.


  1. 1. For the committee's first orders of reference and the motion of appointment, see LJ (2003–04) 66. The committee's terms of reference were amended in 2005 (see LJ (2005–06) 187), with the result that the committee scrutinises ‘every instrument (whether or not a statutory instrument), or draft of an instrument … upon which proceedings may be, or might have been, taken in either House of Parliament under an Act of Parliament’; in 2011, to charge it with reporting on draft orders laid under the Public Bodies Act 2011 (Procedure Committee, Seventh Report, HL 206 (2010–12); LJ (2010–12) 1687); in 2014 to add two grounds for reporting an instrument to the House (Procedure Committee, Fifth Report, HL 167 (2013–14); LJ (2013–14) 1814); and in 2018 (Procedure Committee, Fifth Report, HL 163 (2017–19)) and 2021 (Procedure and Privileges Committee, Sixth Report, HL 223 (2019–21)) to include the sifting of certain instruments laid under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and European Union (Future Relationship) Act 2020. The name of the committee was changed from the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee in 2012 (Procedure Committee, Twelfth Report, HL 283 (2010–12); LJ (2010–12) 2333).