- Posted by: Mike Hedges MS
- Category: Assembly Speeches
Four very quick points. First thing: this has proven the benefits of the Finance Committee reviewing the cost of legislation.
Second: cost is important, and the real key is distinguishing between cashable costs and nominal costs. I think that’s where the Bill went wrong. It didn’t have the wrong numbers, but you couldn’t actually make some of the savings within the Bill that were being shown because they weren’t cashable costs. Cost is incredibly important. Is this Bill worth £20 million? I think it definitely is. Is it worth £200 million? I think we’d have to start getting into a big debate. If it gets up to £2 billion, it’s neither worthwhile nor affordable. So, I think we’ve really got to make sure we get the costs right, because at some stage there’s a crossover with costs when the Bill becomes less worthwhile than the costs it’s bringing in.
Third: it would really help if Standing Orders allowed the Government to produce a range of possible costs and savings and the assumptions behind them, rather than having to try and find some midpoint amongst their calculations. It would actually give better understanding to the Finance Committee, looking at it, and it would actually understand that this is not an exact science. These numbers are not exact and I’m fairly certain that the result will not be, to the penny, what the Minister has brought forward. I’m sure the Minister doesn’t expect it to be, to the penny, what he brings forward. It will be around about that number. I think it’s important that we have some understanding of that.
The fourth point—and it’s always something we need to think about with legislation—is hidden demand. You bring in legislation, you shine a light on a topic—does that bring out any hidden demand in the system of people who didn’t know about it or weren’t involved, who now see it and then want to take up what becomes available?