Reducing the burden of legislation can be very difficult to achieve
The number of new laws passing through parliament has fallen to its lowest level for ten years, Sweet & Maxwell has reported.
The analysis, using the Westlaw UK online service, revealed that the total number of Acts and statutory instruments in 2011 was 1,727, eight per cent lower than the figure for 2010.
The number of amendments to existing legislation fell by 16 per cent, to 25,708 in 2011 compared to 30,614 the previous year.
“The reduction in legislation is noteworthy as there has been a long-term trend to increase legislation to deal with the increasing complexity of the modern world and to respond to calls on the government to act,” a spokesman for Sweet & Maxwell said.
“While governments might frequently announce an intention to reduce the burden of new legislation, in practice this can be very difficult to achieve.
“The coalition government in the UK has already committed to initiatives to cut the red-tape burden on businesses – which includes the introduction of a ‘one in one out’ system for any new regulations that impose costs on businesses.”
The spokesman said some of the major pieces of legislation introduced last year were connected with the government’s austerity plans, such as the Public Bodies Act and the Localism Act.
He said other important measures included the Energy Act, which deals with energy improvements, the European Union Act, providing for referendums on major changes to the treaties, and The Charities Act.
He added that the researchers defined new laws as statutes or statutory instruments introduced in the houses of parliament in Westminster and in the Scottish parliament, but excludes legislation enacted by the Northern Ireland assembly.