Committee says "wholly unjustified" of the Government to combine so many policy areas in a single instrument
Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee concerned by length and complexity of October’s statement of changes to the Immigration Rules
09 November 2020
The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee's latest report, published last week, includes a notable consideration of October's lengthy statement of changes to the Immigration Rules.
The Committee's 22-page report is here. Pages 3 to 6 cover October's statement of changes.
The Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee was concerned by the length and complexity of the 507-page statement and said that it was "wholly unjustified" of the Government to combine so many policy areas in a single statement.
The Committee found the approach taken made parliamentary scrutiny "virtually impossible".
The report noted: "Dealing with this volume of legislation, even where it is simplifying matters, is challenging. Without an expert knowledge of the subject, and the ability to compare old and new Rules side by side, it is impossible for us — and any other lay reader — to tell whether any important protections have been lost in the course of the simplification."
In the report's summary, the Committee stated:
"This Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules in part implements simplifications requested by the Law Commission, in part deals with matters relating to the end of the Transition Period and in part deals with new policy. The instrument is lengthy, at 507 pages, and covers a large number of policy areas. We made clear our opposition to large, wide-ranging instruments when we reported on certain EU Exit instruments last year and, in debate, members of the House strongly supported that view. In reporting on this instrument, we reiterate our view that combining so many policy areas in one very large instrument is wholly unjustified.
"Not only does its complexity make effective parliamentary scrutiny virtually impossible, but it ignores a key criterion of the Government's definition of 'good law', in that it makes the law less accessible to the citizen. We have no doubt that the House will wish to press the Minister to explain why this approach was taken; why it would not have been possible to deal with the issues in a series of themed instruments; and to give an undertaking that this approach will not be repeated.
"We acknowledge that the Home Office has made considerable efforts to provide a comprehensive description of the changes that are being made. It was disappointing, however, that the Explanatory Memorandum, which is itself 50 pages long, was not clearer on the policy aims of these changes and what the impact will be."