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Delegated Legislation in United Kingdom

Definition of Delegated Legislation

In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Delegated Legislation : (subordinate legislation)

Legislation made under powers conferred by an Act of Parliament (an enabling statute, often called the parent Act). The bulk of delegated legislation is governmental: it consists mainly of *Orders in Council and instruments of various names (e.g. orders, regulations, rules, directions, and schemes) made by ministers (See also government circulars). Its primary use is to supplement Acts of Parliament by prescribing the detailed and technical rules required for their operation; unlike an Act, it has the advantage that it can be made (and later amended if necessary) without taking up parliamentary time. Delegated legislation is also made by a variety of bodies outside central government, examples being *byelaws, the *Rules of the Supreme Court, and the codes of conduct of certain professional bodies (See also orders of council).

Most delegated legislation (byelaws are the main exception) is subject to some degree of parliamentary control, which may take any of three principal forms:

(1) a simple requirement that it be laid before Parliament after being made (thus ensuring that members become aware of its existence but affording them no special method or opportunity of questioning its substance);

(2) a provision that it be laid and, for a specified period, liable to annulment by a resolution of either House (negative resolution procedure); or (3) a provision that it be laid and either shall not take effect until approved by resolutions of both Houses or shall cease to have effect unless approved within a specified period (affirmative resolution procedure). In the case of purely financial instruments, any provision for a negative or affirmative resolution refers to the House of Commons alone. (See also statutory instrument; special procedure orders.)

All delegated legislation is subject to judicial control under the doctrine of *ultra vires. Delegated legislation is interpreted in the light of the parent Act, so particular words are presumed to be used in the same sense as in that Act. This rule apart, it is governed by the same principles as those governing the *interpretation of statutes.

See also subdelegated legislation.

Definition of Delegated Legislation

Delegated legislation is also referred to as secondary legislation or subordinate legislation.

Delegated legislation Meaning, as used in the UK Parliament

An Act of Parliament (primary legislation) will often empower ministers to make further regulations within its scope after it has become law. These regulations are ‘secondary’ or ‘delegated’ legislation. Delegated legislation often takes the form of a statutory instrument.


See Also

  • Acts of Parliament

Further Reading

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Schema Summary

  • Article Name: Delegated Legislation
  • Author: Agostino Von Hassell
  • Description: Definition of Delegated Legislation In accordance with the work A Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Delegated [...]

This entry was last updated: February 18, 2016


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