The following letter from Dr Roy Spendlove to Dame Lucy Doolittle has come into my hands:
I have just got back from Cancun to find that various departments have answered questions on how many regulations they have passed in the last six months and how many have been repealed. This kind of information does not make for orderly government and can so easily be misconstrued. I do not think Ministers in the last government would have let this unexpurgated material out. I appreciate that fortunately there has not yet been any media campaign based on it, but there could be. We need to be careful.
When an MP asks such a question we need to prime Ministers. They should be told that a Statutory Instrrument is not a homogeneous unit of account. They should be reminded that some departments need to make orders for temporary purposes on a regular basis – as at Transport. Many departments now are smoothly integrated into the EU system, and have to implement general European agreements. More regulations are an essential feature of modern government.
These MInisters should be told that their own priorities will require substantial rule making. I understand the Chancellor is chairing an exercise to seek to cut regulation. His own department will need considerable new regulation to implement its wishes to control banker bonuses, bank balance sheets and other priority matters for the Coalition. At the same time we are in the throes of a very active programme strengthening European regulation of all banking and financial services, which in turn will require precise transposition into UK law.
At Justice The Lord Chancellor wishes to create more community sentences to replace prison. These will need considerable staff input to come up with the right regulatory provisions. The Home Secretary has asked her team to work on riot control which may well lead to additional legislation. The wide ranging reforms of the Health service require careful guidance to be issued for the new bodies which will replace the Health authorities that are being removed. Some of this will also take the form of lengthy new regulaiton,. The changes of course allow us to improve on the old framework and ensure we cover the items that had been missed in the past.
You will be well aware of these pressures. The problem arises with resources to handle all this. It is not acceptable to many of us that we are under instructions to reduce the numbers in our units and divisions by 30% over four years when there is so much additional work to be done. I appreciate that spreading it over five years was designed to ease the difficutlies and allow second thoughts in later years, when the normal pressures of governemnt might be more apparent even to these Ministers. However, there is the additional complication that the redundancy terms are being reduced shortly. As a result rather more colleagues have decided to leave early than is good for the health of the service, seeking to take advantage of the better terms. This will leave us very stretched.
I would appreciate your thoughts on how we can tackle the presentational issue of extra regulations under this crude proposal of one in, one out. I also need to put in for some replacement people given the current levels of staff loss and the high level of activity we are experiencing from Ministers.