PROPOSAL FOR THE DRAFT REGULATORY REFORM
(SCHEMES UNDER SECTION 129 OF THE HOUSING ACT 1988) (ENGLAND)
Letter from the Clerk to the Office of
the Deputy Prime Minister
The Committee considered the proposal for this order
at its meeting today and requested that the Department give more
written information about how the proposal furthers the object
mentioned in section 1(1)(b) of the Regulatory Reform Act 2001.
Paragraph 7.1 of the Department's Statement acknowledges
that the proposal could be said to be made with a view to re-enactment
for Wales of the provision having the effect of imposing the requirement
for approval. The Secretary of State is said to consider the slight
burden for Wales to be proportionate to the benefits of approval.
The Committee invites you to state what the Secretary of State
considers to be the benefits of the requirement for approval and
why they are felt to be proportionate for Wales in view of the
action proposed to be taken in England.
15 January 2003
Letter from the Office of the Deputy Prime
Minister to the Clerk
Thank you for your letter of 15 January requesting
information about how our proposal furthers the object mentioned
in section 1(1)(b) of the Regulatory Reform act 2001.
The aim of this proposed order was always to remove
a burden in England and to maintain the status quo in Wales.
While acknowledging that the proposal could arguably be said
to engage s.1(1)(b) of the Regulatory Reform Act 2001, it was
felt that the better view was that as the sole aim of the order
was the removal of the requirement for approval in England, s.1(1)(b)
was not engaged.
It has become clear neither your Committee nor the
Regulatory Reform Committee in the House of Commons shares the
Department's view. The Secretary of State considered that the
very slight nature of the burden for Wales in retaining the requirement
for approval enabled him to proceed with an order lifting the
burden only in England. In Wales there was one authority operating
the scheme making a total of 6 grants in the financial year ending
in April 2002, while in England for that same year there were
56 authorities making 670 grants. The Secretary of State also
considered that the lack of experience of administering the scheme
that exists amongst local authorities in Wales justified retaining
the burden. In the event of the scheme becoming more widespread
in Wales, the requirement to seek the approval of the National
Assembly for Wales would have enabled good practice to develop.
However, given that housing functions have been devolved
to the National Assembly for Wales, it is difficult to see how
the Secretary of State could be sufficiently informed to take
a view on the effect of re-imposing the burden (and whether or
not the burden would be proportionate to the benefit) without
requesting detailed evidence from the National Assembly. In
the circumstances it has therefore been decided to re-draft the
order so as to give effect to the proposal on which consultation
took place, while avoiding the making of provision which arguably
involves the exercise of the power in s.1(1)(b). A copy of the
re-drafted order is attached [see Annex 2 to the Report].
I hope this is sufficient to satisfy the Committee.
22 January 2003