Role of the PCO
The Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO) is New Zealand's law drafting office. It is responsible for:
- drafting most New Zealand legislation
- publishing New Zealand Acts of Parliament and Statutory Regulations, both in hard copy and online on the New Zealand Legislation website.
The PCO is not part of the core Public Service under the State Sector Act 1988, and thus is not under the direct control of the State Services Commissioner. However, the PCO is subject to certain provisions of the State Sector Act 1988, including those that relate to the setting and enforcement of minimum standards of integrity and conduct.
Under the Legislation Act 2012, the functions of the PCO are to:
- draft government Bills and legislative instruments
- publish Bills, Acts, legislative instruments, and reprints of legislation in electronic and printed forms
- prepare reprints of Acts, regulations, and legislative instruments
- prepare Bills to revise Acts in accordance with the current revision programme
- advise departments and agencies on the drafting of disallowable instruments that are not drafted by the PCO
- examine local and private Bills, and Members' Bills that the Attorney-General directs to be examined
- advise on and assist with the drafting of all local and private Bills, and draft Members' Bills on the Attorney-General's direction.
From time to time, the PCO also drafts certain other instruments such as Orders in Council establishing commissions of inquiry, warrants and regulations made under the Royal prerogative and relating to medals and honours, documents appointing officers of the Ross Dependency, pardons given under the Royal prerogative of mercy, and documents relating to issues raised by the Cabinet Office.
The Inland Revenue Department is authorised to draft certain Inland Revenue Bills (see the Inland Revenue Department (Drafting) Order 1995).
Under section 4(1) of the Acts and Regulations Publication Act 1989, the PCO is responsible for arranging the printing and publication of Acts of Parliament, Statutory Regulations, reprints of Acts of Parliament and reprints of regulations, and reprints of Imperial Acts that have effect as part of the laws of New Zealand. Provisions in the Legislation Act 2012 carry forward these functions, but will not have effect until they are brought into force, no later than 1 July 2014. At this time the Acts and Regulations Publications Act 1989 will be repealed.
The PCO is responsible for supplying printed copies of Bills and Supplementary Order Papers (SOPs) to the House, and publishing printed copies of Bills and SOPs.
The PCO publishes the Tables of New Zealand Acts and Ordinances and Statutory Regulations and Deemed Regulations in Force annually in printed form, and publishes four interim indexes to the Statutory Regulations for each year.
The PCO's goal is to contribute to parliamentary democracy under the rule of law by supporting Parliament and the executive in their law-making roles and contributing to the Government's objectives by ensuring that:
- legislation that is necessary to change the law to implement Government policies is effective, clear, and consistent with other legislation, the general law, and international law
- legislation, including Bills and SOPs, is accessible to the public in both printed and electronic forms, and printed copies of Bills and SOPs are provided to the House
- Acts and Regulations are published with official, authoritative status.