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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 19/02/2002
New Parliamentary Procedures



ANNEXE 1

New Parliamentary Procedures

The proposed procedure is as follows:

The planning application (or equivalent)

The Environmental Impact Assessment and a non-technical summary of it (prepared by the
developer)

The relevant national policy statement(s) and Regional Planning Guidance.

A draft text of any Order that Parliament would later be requested to approve; the description of
the project in such an Order would be consistent with that of the project designated i.e. as put
forward by the applicant or promoter, and the approval sought would reflect the range of
consents which it would fall to the Secretary of State to give once he had taken a final decision
post-inquiry.

The 42 days consultation period would be absolute, but the overall period of 60 sitting days would be set by reference to Parliamentary adjournments (as in the Regulatory Reform Act).
In effect, the clock would stop whenever Parliament adjourned for a period of four days or more. Any committee could begin work immediately the project had been designated, since it would have the detailed description of the project, and the national policy statements, which would themselves normally have been subject to consultation, to consider from the outset. It would also be able to comment on any draft Order laid after the conclusion of the period of Parliamentary consideration, as under current regulatory reform procedure, provided it did so before any debate.

The precise way in which Parliament scrutinised proposals would be for each House to decide. The view might be that the information supplied would be sufficient for individuals to come to their own conclusions; alternatively, a committee-based system might be used. There would be a range of ways in which a committee might proceed, from reviewing the documents to a longer process of inviting further representations, either written or in person.
No legislation would be needed for any of the committee powers or procedures; these could be determined by Orders of each House, as would the committees’ precise terms of reference and timetable although any committees would need to report in time to inform the debates on approval of the project.

If a committee system were desired, the type of committee used, and the way in which it operated, would clearly have timetable implications, which Parliament will doubtless bear in mind. In considering the form of scrutiny, Parliament will also be aware that matters of detail would be for the subsequent public inquiry to examine, if Parliament approved the project in principle.

As noted above, if Parliament approved the project in principle it would go forward for detailed consideration at a public inquiry. This would be held as soon as practicable following consultation with the parties on the inquiry arrangements. New inquiry procedures for major infrastructure projects, due to be introduced early in 2002, will enable the Secretary of State to prescribe a timetable for the inquiry at the outset. The Inspector must adhere to this, unless the Secretary of State agrees to a variation (e.g. in the event of unforeseen circumstances).