Memorandum submitted by Graham Mather,
President, European Policy Forum
1. The European Policy Forum is an independent
international research institute. Amongst its areas of interest
is work concerning improved efficiency and transparency in regulatory
processes across the EU. Our supporting organisations include
a significant number of broadcasting and telecommunications organisations.
2. The Forum has for some time been discussing
with Departments and sector regulators ways to improve the application
of Regulatory Impact Assessment requirements across Government.
The Joint Committee will, however note that the draft Bill does
not impose a requirement on the Regulator to show that the most
efficient option for discharging statutory duties has been adopted
through application of Regulatory Impact Assessment and demonstrating
that proportionality principles have been applied. This requirement
already applies to the Financial Services Authority and the Food
Standards Agency and there would appear to be no reason why a
formal duty to cost projected regulatory impacts should not be
included in the Communications Bill.
3. A statutory requirement to undertake
Regulatory Impact Assessment would not mean that the Regulator
would be inhibited from discharging regulatory duties. It would,
however, require Ofcom to prove that the most proportionate option
for action has been chosen.
4. The proposed obligation is implicit in
Clauses 2(a) and 5(1) but it is debatable whether the production
of Regulatory Impact Assessments would be legally enforceable
as the Bill stands.
5. It is recognised that there are circumstances
in which it would not be reasonable to undertake RIA. One way
forward would be that the requirement should not apply in enforcement
cases, nor where Ofcom demonstrates that its proposed actions
would be unlikely to have material commercial impacts. However,
this could be drafted as a rebuttable presumption since there
will inevitably be cases where regulated sectors identify impacts
of which the regulator may be unaware.
6. I hope these comments are of assistance.