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Influencing legislative change: Select committees and PCO

Influencing legislative change: Select committees and PCO

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Influencing legislative change: Select committees and PCO

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  1. Influencing legislative change:Select committees and PCO Fiona Leonard Parliamentary Counsel Office http://www.pco.parliament.govt.nz

  2. Select committees and PCO • legislative process • role of PCO • Bill management at select committee stage • how you can improve the quality of a Bill

  3. There are two things you don’t want to see being made – sausage and legisation Attributed to Otto von Bismark (1815-1898), Germany’s chancellor

  4. legislative process Policy formation Cabinet approves policy drafting Cabinet approves legislation Introduction First reading amendments Select committee Second reading amendments Committee of whole House Third reading Implementation

  5. What is PCO? • independent Office of Parliament • reports to A-G • carries out functions of drafting, compilation, and some publishing • 2 divisions – drafting and access to legislation (compilation) • 31 drafters

  6. What does PCO do? • drafts all Government Bills (except tax) • drafts all Government regulations • drafts other legislative instruments (eg, Royal Commissons of Inquiry) • drafts local Bills (if asked) and members Bills (if the A-G directs)

  7. What does a drafter do? • takes instructions • gives legal effect to policy • tries to produce plain English drafts • tries to identify and solve problems • tests policy and undertakes legal analysis

  8. Where is PCO coming from? - the workings of a drafters mind

  9. often thinks about the “statute book” as a whole • often the first external person to “test” the second level (implementing) policy • PCO style • plain English drafting • conscious of current and future hurdles (LAC, BoRA vetting, and parliamentary procedure)

  10. Who does PCO act for? • PCO acts for the Minister in charge of a portfolio to which a project relates • Ministry derives its authority to instruct us from the Minister • independent of the department • legal privilege applies

  11. Practical time resources political pressures what will work “in the field” Procedural legal constitutional policy (LAC guidelines) style and formatting Parliamentary matters Constraints and pressures

  12. Bill management at select cmte • advisers to the select cmte • officials prepare a report on the submissions and recommend changes to the select cmte • PCO then prepares the RT version of the Bill showing amendments to the Bill recommended by the select cmte • scope of advice confined to drafting matters

  13. although advisers to the select cmte, continue to act for the Minister in charge of the Bill • if select cmte intending to recommend amendments to the Bill that are contrary to Cabinet decisions, then Minister can withdraw PCO as advisers (rare)

  14. How you can improve the quality of a Bill - general • tailor submissions to the audience • do not reflect adversely on the abilities of the audience • think carefully about whether to oppose a measure outright or suggest improvements as a “fall back” • be specific about the nature of changes you are suggesting • identify mistakes, inconsistencies, and legal issues • run the draft through practical scenarios, does it work?

  15. Savings preserves something that would otherwise be repealed or cease to exist on repeal anything can be “saved” preserves what already exists – does not create new rights Transitionals provides for the application of legislation to the circumstances that exist at the time the new Bill comes into force deal with people and situations that straddle 2 regimes provides how to get from A to B How you can improve the quality of a Bill – transitionals and savings

  16. How you can improve the quality of a Bill – transitionals and savings • can be critical at implementation stage • found at the back of the Bill (of temporary concern and have limited life) • can be hard to get full instructions • can be very complex eg, over 50 sections in the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act 2003

  17. How you can improve the quality of a Bill – transitionals and savings • Are there any gaps? • If so, what is required? • Be specific

  18. How you can improve the quality of a Bill – commencement provisions • fixed date • by Order in Council (with default date) • staggered • can be complex

  19. How you can improve the quality of a Bill – scope of the Bill

  20. How you can improve the quality of a Bill – scope of the Bill • amendments must be within scope • SO 288: “a select committee may recommend only amendments that are relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill” (cf SO 292 CwH) eg Real Estate Agents Act 2008 – proposal to include property managers

  21. How you can improve the quality of a Bill – scope of the Bill • advice on scope – select cmte clerk • rulings – chairperson • basis of ruling – relevance to subject matter to Bill as introduced and consistency with objects and principles

  22. Outcome we are seeking to achieve