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17 August 2012
New proposals to reduce the time period to respond to government consultations are an 'affront' to the democratic process, according to Graham Jukes, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH). The comments follow the launch of proposals that would see the minimum period given to respond to a consultation reduced from 12 weeks to two weeks.
In a robust and forthright attack, Graham Jukes, said:
“These proposals are nothing short of an attack on one of the most fundamental tenets of our participatory democracy - the right and ability of citizens and organisation to voice their views and opinions on proposed legislation.
“For the CIEH this could result in us responding to fewer consultations. As a membership body, we seek the views of numerous stakeholders when making consultation responses. While this may be time consuming at times, it provides us with specialist knowledge and invaluable experience.
“Our members, who work in a broad range of public health roles in the private and public sectors, are uniquely positioned and qualified to make an informed and valuable contribution to government consultations. I fear that with this sort of time constraint we will be unable to collect their views.
“Furthermore for us, as a democratic and open body, these proposals could result in our governance arrangements being short circuited because there is insufficient time to obtain formal approval to specific policy positions relevant to a consultation.
“What is even more insidious than the prospect of having only two weeks to respond is the idea that – in certain cases - no consultation may be called because the policy has already been discussed by the relevant government department with its stakeholders.”