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Waste regulations need more reviews by Government, say House of Lords

The House of Lords Merits Committee has criticised the Government, in a damning new report, for failing to examine whether each significant piece of secondary legislation, including waste legislation, is achieving its intended outcome.

The Committee examines the merits of any statutory or other legislative instrument which is subject to parliamentary procedure. The new report is entitled What happened next? (12 November) and one of the case studies assessed in the inquiry is the Waste (Household Waste Duty of Care) (England and Wales) Regulations 2005. The regulations place a duty of care on producers of waste to take responsibility for ensuring their waste is managed without harm to human health or the environment.

When the Committee reviewed the legislation in 2005 it was concerned that not enough had been done to inform householders that they would shortly be subject to the new duty. Its current view states: Although some publicity has now been undertaken it still appears to be piecemeal, with some areas faring better than others. Our concern remains that householders may still be in ignorance of a duty that could result in a £5,000 fine if breached.

The Committee explain that it is accepted that legislation should be reviewed to see how it is working in practice, generally about three years after it has come into effect.

It asked the National Audit Office to assist in providing evidence for the What happened next? report and the NAO found that no commitment was made to a post implementation review [for the Household Waste Duty of Care Regulations] and none has been undertaken.
Most of the case studies assessed were regulations that were implemented in 2004/05. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations were also examined in the report. In 2005, the Department of Trade and Industry, now known as the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, told the Committee that the WEEE Directive was one of the most challenging pieces of European legislation that they had to implement, due to the practical difficulties of developing a system to deal with the collection and disposal of WEEE and said that during the process of agreeing the Directive there may well have been too little understanding of these problems. In its recent assessment of BIS, the Committee has stated that it is important that this particular set of regulations is evaluated and the lessons learned spread more widely across Whitehall.

Overall, the Committee found that 46 per cent of the regulations in a sample from 2005 had not been subject to any form of follow-up evaluation and only 29 per cent to full post-implementation review.

Merits Committee chairman Lord Filkin said: Our inquiry confirms that far too few new Statutory Instruments [secondary legislation] are based on an analysis of how the original legislation is working. Without a robust system for reviewing legislation policy makers will not learn what works best to deliver their policy objectives. It is clear that to achieve real improvements to the outcomes of new regulations, a real process of post implementation review must be kick-started by Government.

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