Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Monday, 7 November 2011

Calls for UK laws to be made easier to understand

Peers have called on the government to look at options for making UK legislation easier to understand, including the use of digital technology to present laws in a clearer format.

The issue was raised during question time in the Lords on 7 November 2011, following a question from Conservatives peer Baroness Gardner of Parkes on consolidating landlord and tenant legislation.

Baroness Gardner claimed that even trained lawyers would have trouble following the law in this area - a theme expanded upon by crossbencher Baroness Deech, who described the UK's laws as "very hard to understand".

Lady Deech urged the government to take "great efforts" to ensure that people seeking to get to grips with primary legislation do not have to turn to secondary sources for guidance.

Baroness Butler-Sloss, another crossbencher, suggested the government should ask the Law Commission to examine ways of modernising the way legislation is presented. Her plea was echoed by Liberal Democrat Baroness Williams of Crosby, who said "the complexity of our laws grows exponentially" with each parliamentary term.

Replying for the government, Baroness Hanham reminded peers the system had "a history going back generations" but pledged to raise the topic with other ministers.

Earlier in the session, Ulster Unionist Party peer Lord Empey asked about the arrangements under which citizens of other EU member states have access to the UK benefits system.

The Conservatives' Lord Fowler then asked whether ministers had any plans to review the BBC licence fee, and crossbench peer Baroness Greengross asked about hydration policy in hospitals and care homes.

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