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Objectives and Assessment Criteria

10. Our 2011 RIS suggested that the key objectives for any additional measures to support legislative quality should be to promote one or more of the following:

  • the delivery of better policy analysis and advice into the decision-making process for potential legislative changes (because major problems with legislation originate in choices made at the policy phase and it is a lot harder to get agreement to significant policy changes later on);
  • the translation of policy into legislation that conforms to generally accepted attributes of good legislation (because these attributes reflect key values that support individual rights and respect for the law); and
  • more systematic identification and prioritisation of problems or potential improvements in the existing stock of legislation (because we know legislative mistakes can be made; that legislation can become less effective or redundant over time as the policy environment changes; and assessing the cost and performance of legislation is a neglected and under-resourced task compared with assessing government spending).

11. This does not mean that we expect proposals based on Option 5 to target all three key objectives, or to offer a complete response to the problems and deficiencies described above and in Annex 2. As noted in the 2011 RIS, the core features of Option 5 are expected to complement existing measures, and to primarily target the 2nd objective - the translation of policy into good legislation.

12. Our main assessment criteria are the plausible benefits, expected costs, and anticipated risks of any proposed measures. The key issues here are likely to be:

  • the ability to manage risks and costs - since the benefits are uncertain, it is desirable that costs can be cut if the benefits turn out to be limited; and
  • the nature of the incentives created - as the benefits will come mainly from the ability to induce behavioural changes among the key participants.

13. Important indicators associated with the control of risks and costs include:

  • alignment with existing constitutional norms, as constitutional changes can alter the power balance between key roles, and should not be made lightly or without careful consideration of the potential dynamic consequences;
  • compatibility with different regulatory philosophies and frameworks, because broad political and public buy-in is required for enduring success;
  • alignment with current arrangements for the development of legislation, as this offers potential economies and facilitates system integration; and
  • the ability to adapt and amend requirements, in light of both practical experience and the inevitable changes in the legislative environment, supporting institutions, and concepts of good practice.
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