This section provides information on the process for government responses to both select committee reports and Law Commission reports, and the requirements for related papers, including:
- the requirements for government responses to select committee reports;
- the requirements for government responses to Law Commission reports, including Law Commission reports on a project referred by the government and Law Commission reports following a self-initiated project;
- the standard format for a government response to a Law Commission report, and the standard format for recommendations in a paper seeking the Cabinet Legislation Committee’s (LEG) approval of the government response.
Government responses to select committee reports (petitions and inquiries)
If a report from a select committee to the House of Representatives (the House) on an inquiry or a petition includes recommendations to the government, a government response to the recommendations must be presented within 60 working days of the select committee’s report. Copies of all select committee reports are available from the New Zealand Parliament website.
Government responses must be approved by LEG. When such a response is required, the Cabinet Office will send the details to the relevant Minister’s office, which will include a copy of the report/petition, guidance on how the response should be set out, and the process to be followed.
The LEG paper accompanying the government response should follow the standard format. If the select committee’s report raises matters that require policy decisions to be taken by a Cabinet committee, the paper accompanying the response should be submitted to the relevant Cabinet policy committee.
Government responses to Law Commission reports
Law Commission report on a project referred by the government
The Minister of Justice (the Minister) approves an annual programme of projects for the Law Commission. Information on Law Commission projects is available on the Commission’s website and information on the process for selecting Commission projects and responding to Law Commission reports is in Cabinet Office circular CO (09) 1 Law Commission: Processes for Setting the Work Programme and Government Response to Reports.
Law Commission reports on projects referred by the government are presented to the Minister and any relevant portfolio Minister. Once a portfolio Minister has received a Law Commission report, a Cabinet paper will be prepared as soon as reasonably practicable seeking approval of the Law Commission’s recommendations to the extent that the Minister considers appropriate. The portfolio Minister will decide who prepares the paper (for example, the relevant responsible government department, or a joint paper with the Law Commission). The Law Commission usually has some involvement in drafting the paper.
The Minister is required to present all Law Commission reports to the House. Once a report has been presented to the House, or 20 working days after an advance copy of the report has been forwarded to the Minister and the relevant portfolio Minister, the Commission will publish the report.
If the Law Commission’s recommendations are accepted
If the recommendations contained in the Law Commission’s report are accepted by Cabinet, no formal government response to the report needs to be presented to the House.
When the Law Commission’s report recommends a new bill, approval should be sought in the Cabinet paper to add the bill to the Legislation Programme. If the Law Commission’s report does not contain a bill, the portfolio Minister, or the Law Commission, may be invited by Cabinet to issue drafting instructions to the Parliamentary Counsel Office. The bill will then need to be approved by Cabinet.
If the Law Commission’s recommendations are not accepted
If Cabinet does not agree with the recommendations in the Law Commission’s report, a government response must be presented to the House within 120 working days of the Law Commission’s report being presented to the House.
The portfolio Minister must seek Cabinet’s approval of the text of the government response by submitting the response, and a Cabinet paper, to LEG and Cabinet, following the standard format. Once approved by Cabinet, the office of the Minister concerned must arrange the presentation of the government response by delivering it to the Clerk of the House.
Law Commission report following a self-initiated project
The Law Commission is also able to self-initiate projects. The process for responding to Law Commission reports on such projects is similar to that for reports on government referred projects with the key difference that the government must respond to all Commission reports that are self-initiated, either through a government response to the House (as above), or through the introduction of a bill giving effect to the Law Commission’s recommendations.
If Cabinet rejects the recommendations in the Law Commission’s report, the government will still be required to respond formally through a paper presented to the House within 120 working days of the presentation of the Law Commission’s report to the House.