Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to the bill today, which relates to the important responsibilities that parliamentarians have to oversee the exercise of the delegated law-making powers.
For the past 30 years these responsibilities have in large part been discharged by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations. It has performed an invaluable service to the House and to the Canadian public in its review of statutory instruments made under acts of Parliament.
The committee examines thousands of statutory instruments each year and carefully notes any concerns they raise in terms of the committee's review criteria. These criteria focus on legal concerns rooted in the rule of law and the Canadian Constitution, particularly the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The committee carefully and diligently pursues its concerns and deals with the concerns of the authorities entrusted with that power to make regulations and other statutory instruments.
One of the ways of ensuring that its concerns are addressed is through the disallowance procedure in chapter XIV of the standing orders of the House. These procedures have worked well. The government has complied with all eight of the disallowance resolutions adopted by the House.
I fully support the principles of parliamentary scrutiny of regulations underlying Bill C-205, as well as the need to recognize the disallowance procedures in law.
However, as I noted during the last session in the debate on Bill C-202, it gives rise to a number of concerns. These concerns have to do with how disallowed regulations are to be revoked, particularly the timeframe for revocation and the challenges it might pose for the making of replacement regulations to fill gaps that may be left by this revocation. I also noted concerns about ensuring proper public notice of revocation and extending the disallowance procedures to statutory instruments made by non-ministerial bodies.
Finally, I drew the attention of the House to the absence of a role for the other place in the disallowance resolution.
Today we have before us a proposal to substitute another bill for Bill C-205. I am pleased to say that the new bill addresses the concerns that I previously mentioned.
I would like to point out that the government is committed to ensuring that parliamentarians have an effective role in overseeing the exercise of delegated legislative powers. Not only has it implemented the eight resolutions under the existing disallowance procedures in the standing orders, the government recently amended the cabinet directive on law making, which is available on the website of the Privy Council Office.
The amendment addresses the treatment of concerns raised by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations. It establishes a series of requirements for government departments, which is extraordinarily important in the process of governance.
They are to have one or more designated persons to whom the standing joint committee may address its inquiries. All inquiries are to be coordinated by a departmental tracking office to facilitate timely responses to all correspondence from the committee. Each department is to establish appropriate timelines for responding to inquiries. If a time line cannot be met, the committee is to be advised of the need for an extension. If an inquiry involves a legal issue, the department's legal services unit is to be consulted. Each deputy minister is to receive a status report from their departmental tracking office on a regular basis. A copy of the status report is to be provided to the minister's office.
I believe that these procedures will go some distance toward improving the government's accountability to Parliament on regulation making.
These steps that have been taken clearly demonstrate the government's commitment to the principles underlying the parliamentary scrutiny of regulations. It is extraordinarily important and I urge the adoption of the bill.