Wednesday 4 November 2009

If you need a cure for insomnia, try counting Statutory Instruments (rather than sheep) ….

The anoraks among us will have noted that my last blog contained a piece of information that could have been more precise.

I reported that “some” 15,694 Statutory Instruments had been nodded through Parliament since the last General Election. Have I counted them all? No, not individually. But I don’t actually know if anyone else has counted them all either. In fact, where can you go to get an accurate answer?

I’m quite confident that 135 Public Acts received Royal Assent between May 2005 and yesterday, as the Office of Public Sector Information helpfully appends a new “Chapter Number” to each Act as the Royal Signature is appended to the legislation. So I was able to refer to their website and learn that the Appropriation (No. 3) Act 2005 c.21 received Royal Assent on 20th July 2005, while the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 c.13 received Royal Asent on 21 July 2009.

But Statutory Instruments are different beasts. Each SI is allocated a different number. But. like my sock drawer, some are missing from the final list. So they are either “secret SIs” or they’ve somehow gone AWOL between being initially allocated and completing their passage through Parliament. But I couldn’t be bothered to count them all individually. Instead, I started at the first SI to be passed since that election, “The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (Application to Environmentally Hazardous Substances) (Amendment) Regulations 2005, SI 1308". This was made on 9th May, laid before Parlament on 12th May and came into force on 3 June 2005.

And I finished with “The A3(M) Motorway (Junction 5, Carriageways) (Temporary Prohibition of Traffic) Order 2009, SI 2901". This was made on 26th October and came into force on 31st October 2009.

Bored yet? I am. So I’ll wait for someone else to explain where a researcher can go to learn just how many Statutory Instruments do make their way onto the statute books.