HL Deb 09 April 2003 vol 647 c38WA
Lord Lester of Herne Hill

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 24 March (WA 59–60), whether they will give the main examples of circumstances during the past five years in which they decided, in accordance with the Ram doctrine, that legislation was undesirable. [HL2293]

Baroness Scotland of Asthal

Occasions on which the Government have chosen not to legislate in order to provide statutory authority for an action that is in any event lawful at common law are necessarily difficult to categorise. No list is maintained.

However, the Government recognise limits to the reliance that should be placed on non-statutory authority. For example, in accordance with Government Accounting, paragraph 11.3.33, departmental estimates should identify expenditure which rests on the sole authority of the appropriation Act. This is done by the use of symbols in the notes to the estimates. Departments are also required constantly to review continuing provision to ensure that it complies with the 1932 concordat (referred to in previous Written Answers) so far as possible.

It follows that scrutiny of the estimates for each year should disclose the main cases in which expenditure rested on the appropriation Act, without other statutory provision.