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11 December 2013

The rôle of parliament in better regulation (Paris conference)

Your blogger was honoured to moderate a half-day conference, organised on 5 December jointly by the OECD and the French Senate, on the rôle of Parliaments in the search for Better Regulation. The event, announced in a previous post, brought together MPs and staffers from France, the UK, Sweden and the EU to compare institutional competences and methods to start sharing best practice. The OECD outlined the issue in a concept paper, the first paragraphs of which are quoted below:
"The Recommendation of the Council on Regulatory Policy and Governance is clear: "Ensuring the quality of the regulatory structure is a dynamic and permanent role of governments and Parliaments". As the institutions responsible for approving legislation, parliaments can exercise oversight and control over the application of better regulation principles for new and amended regulation. Through the public debate of proposed bills and amendments, they can help foster a transparent dialogue on the opportunities and challenges offered by new and amended regulation. Through the control they exercise on public expenditures and government performance, they can help monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of regulation.
OECD surveys of regulatory management show a progressive move towards strengthening the role of parliaments in improving regulatory quality. In 2008, 15 jurisdictions (14 OECD member countries and the EU) had a parliamentary committee or other parliamentary body responsible for regulatory policy or reform against 11 in 2005. In seven cases, this committee or body conducts periodic reviews of the quality of proposed legislation. In eight cases, it conducts quality reviews of subordinate legislation. In five cases, the review process is guided by specific criteria. In six the committee or body regularly reports on progress on regulatory policy and reform across government. Consultation is also often an integral part of the legislative process. For example, in New Zealand, Parliament invites public submissions on almost all bills and these are considered by a select committee before it makes recommendations. "
The first panel was devoted to recent changes in the French approach to the matter, which shows that the traditional emphasis on formal quality of the texts and a concern for full enactment, is gradually incorporating a keener sense of regulatory impacts on the economy, parlty under the influence of the principles of smart regulation promoted by Brussels. The second panel introduced several foreign good practices with contributions from the UK, Sweden and European parliaments. This blog will watch for the publication of the proceedings, which will hopefully reflect the many sound ideas about how parliaments and governments can cooperate, by way of the use of RIAs and other methods, to enact better and economically efficient regulation. Videos of the key moments of the conference are already uploaded on the site of the Senate.

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