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Introduction: Delegated Legislation

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  • through enabling act or parent act Parliament delegates powers to other persons or bodies
  • known as subordinate or secondary legislation
  • Orders in Council: drafted by Government, formally signed by Privy Council and Monarch
  • can be used to transfer responsibilities between Government departments, dissolving Parliament, compliance with EU directives and in national emergency
  • statutory instruments: made by Government Ministers within the area of their responsibility, used to update laws
  • By laws: made by local authorities and public bodies and confirmed by the appropriate Ministe, apply only to a local authority area or public body
  • Court Rules Committee given delegated powers to make procedural rules for the courts, eg Civil Procedure Rules 1998
  • debate over whether there is sufficient scrutiny

    Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill 2006

    • Bill proposed to give powers to Ministers to amend and repeal primary legislation
    • criticised and dubbed Abolition of Parliament Bill
    • initial Bill was amended
    • Act introduces two types of orders Ministers can make: for the purpose of removing or reducing burdens or to ensure that regulatory bodies comply with the five Principles of Good Regulation (transparency, accountability, proportionality, consistency and targetting situations which require attention)
  • delegated legislation becomes invalid if it goes beyond the scope of the authority conferred by the parent Act
  • it is ultra vires (outside their powers)


    Time Saving

  • save Parliamentary time, would be impossible for Parliament to pass all statutory instruments each session
  • detail can be left to appropriate Ministers and Parliament can concentrate on the general principles in enabling Act
  • passed quickly in order to deal with situations when they arise and emergencies
  • Movement Restrictions (Foot-and-Mouth Disease) (No.2) Regulations 2007 were statutory instruments passed to help deal with the foot and mouth crisis
  • Expertise

  • can be prepared by those with specialist knowledge, sometimes which Parliament does not possess
  • Ministers and Civil Servants have considerable knowledge within their particular area of responsibility
  • Cableway Installation Regulations 2004 made in order to comply with an EU directive by the Ministry of Transport, required technical understanding of cable cars and ski lifts
  • Flexibility

  • more flexible than an Act of Parliament as easier to amend
  • provides flexibility to legislate when necessary and on an ad hoc basis


    Democratic Accountability

  • not directly debated in Parliament, apart from the statutory instruments which are subject to affirmative resolution procedure
  • Orders in Council drafted by the Government but approved by the unelected Monarch and Privy Council
  • can be seen as undermining the doctrine of Parliamentary Sovereignty
  • Sub Delegation

  • body or person who has been given the power to make the law may pass this on to another
  • statutory instruments are often drafted by civil servants and simply rubber stamped by Minsters
  • Scrutiny

  • only subject to limited Parliamentary controls
  • Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee examines all Bills with delegating powers before they begin their passage through the House of Lords
  • Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee reviews legislation that has been made from delegated powers
  • Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments examines whether statutory instruments comply with the provisions in the enabling act
  • rarely attracts much publicity as it is not debated in Parliament so another layer of scrutiny and accountability is removed
  • MPs may lack ability to monitor because it is often highly technical in nature
  • Volume

  • 2011: 3133 statutory instruments introduced compared to just 30 Acts of Parliament
  • difficult for public and interested parties to raise objections or input into the legislation
  • can be hard to keep up with changes and establish the current laws
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