Response to points raised in the letter
submitted to the Committee by Charles Miller of the European Policy
1. RIA rules are used to justify policy
decision already taken, rather than to inform them.
There is no evidence that this is the case.
This was not a finding in the NAO report. The August 2000 RIA
guidance advises policy makers to start an RIA as soon as possible
for any proposal likely to have a direct or indirect impact on
business, charities or the voluntary sector. The RIA process requires
policy makers to consider a wide range of options, including non-regulatory
2. The European Policy Forum negotiated
a change to RIA guidelines to advise departments to consult at
the outset on the most appropriate data collection and impact
Not aware of any such agreement. But RIU does
encourage departments to consult early on proposals.
3. The European Policy Forum negotiated
a change to RIA process under which RIAs should be based on full
commercial impacts, including employment and consumer prices,
rather than just compliance costs.
The RIA guidance encourages best practice in
costing options, broken down into policy and implementation costs.
We are not aware that EPF had specifically negotiated any changes,
although RIU did consult a wide range of stakeholders about the
guidance and took comments on board from many of them.
4. Departments have used RIU guidance that
RIAs should be brief to avoid setting out evidence they have relied
upon in contentious cases.
The RIU advises that RIAs should be fit for
purposeno standard length, brief or otherwise, is recommended.
5. The RIU has been reluctant to intervene
to secure compliance with the RIA rules.
This is not the case. A member of the RIU scrutiny
team actually met Charles Miller and the DoH DRIU on 3 October
this year to discuss an RIA which Charles Miller was concerned
about (Ban on Tobacco Advertising).
Generally, there are a number of stages at which
the RIU may see RIAs. This provides RIU with an opportunity to
ensure that policy makers are complying with the RIA rules. In
the first instance policy makers and DRIUs will often ask the
RIU for advice in specific cases.
And where a proposal is "significant",
a Regulatory Impact Statement has to be prepared and agreed with
the RIU to include in the ministerial letter seeking policy clearance.
The four key criteria are:
Costs in excess of £20 million.
Better Regulation Task Force interest.
Proposal has a disproportionate impact
on a particular group eg small businesses.
High degree of topicality or sensitivity.
Finally, a partial RIA should be published alongside
consultation documents, and a full RIA must be published alongside
all regulatory proposals laid in Parliament. Again this gives
RIU a chance to see and comment on departments' RIAs.
6. There is a need for a strong enforcement
body, for example the NAO, to monitor compliance with RIA process
and act as an appeal body.
There is a public government commitment to the
RIA process, and a published guide to the process. This fits with
the general government approach of encouraging "best practice"
in policy making without introducing a heavy bureaucratic structure
to enforce it.
7. The RIU should, along with industry representative,
draft a new implementation checklist for all policy makers, endorsed
by Accounting Officers and Secretaries of State.
RIU are revising the RIA guidance as part of
the regular update, and will be producing a new checklist to go
alongside this. This process will involve consultation with external
8. The Economic Regulators are not required
to produce impact assessments.
This issue is mentioned in the Better Regulation
Task Force report on Economic Regulators. The Government response
to the Better Regulation Task Force report is imminent and will
include their views on this.
Office of Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Office