Saturday, 25 May 2013

Scrutiny Overrides

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The Government work closely with the EU Committee in the House of Lords and the European Scrutiny Committee in the House of Commons to avoid breaching the Scrutiny Reserve Resolutions. Ministers will continue to write to the Chairmen of the Scrutiny Committees to account for their actions when an override occurs.

Between July-December 2012 a total of 498 Explanatory Memorandums (EMs) were deposited for scrutiny, with only 29 overrides, a significant reduction on the 56 overrides between January-June 2012. Fast-moving Common Foreign and Security Policy sanctions and restrictive measures were the single largest category of override, accounting for 15 of the 29. In these instances it was important to agree proposals urgently so that measures could be implemented quickly and effectively. Regrettably, this meant that on these occasions, the Government agreed proposals before the committee had been able to clear the documents from scrutiny.

The figures requested are set out in the table below:

Department(1). House of Lords override(2). House of Commons override(a). No. of overrides in both Houses(b). Total no. of overrides
Department of Business, Innovation and Skills 1 5 0 6
Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs 0 3 0 3
Foreign and Commonwealth Office 15 16 15 16
HM Treasury 3 3 3 3
Department for Work and Pensions 0 1 0 1
Totals 19 28 18 29

The Written Answer I gave to my noble friend on the 20 November 2012 (Official Report, col. WA350), recorded a total of 57 overrides, including one override attributed to HM Treasury incorrectly. This was in respect of European Union Document 10435/12 on the council regulation adjusting the correction coefficients applicable to the remuneration and pensions of officials and other servants of the EU. This figure was incorrectly included as an override. The total override figure for the last period reduces from 57 to 56. The figure for House of Commons overrides reduces from 50 to 49. All other information in my previous answer remains unaffected.