Outline the role of delegated legislation.

Essay by trixtaA-, February 2006

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In order to reduce pressure on parliamentary time, Acts of Parliament often give government ministers or other authorities the power to regulate administrative details by means of 'delegated' or secondary legislation. However since delegated legislation in many instances is made by non-elected bodies which results from transferring law-making powers from the legislature to the executive it is therefore delegated powers must be subject to effective checks and controls to ensure accountability and prevent misuse, and this control is exercised by Parliament and by courts.

Parliamentary oversight may seem to conflict with needing to save parliamentary time however, a responsible Parliament must monitor the use of powers it has delegated.

Two main forms of this are by affirmative resolution procedure and by a scrutiny committee.

A small number of SIs must go through an affirmative resolution procedure before coming into force. A Positive affirmation are instrument which only comes into force after approval by Parliament and the Negative resolution (where most other statutory instruments will be subject to), will come into force unless annulled by Parliament within 40 days, also with both resolutions can at any time a Member of Parliament put a motion to annul it.

Negative resolution is more common but reliance on this may mean draft instruments receive inadequate policy scrutiny.

As another control of DL, a Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee was established in 1993 in the House of Lords, although acquiring no power to alter any SIs, it only considers whether the provisions of any Bills delegated legislative power inappropriately. It does this by reviewing technical merits of all draft SIs and refers to Parliament for those giving cause for concern (e.g. unusual or unexpected use of the power) and therefore the Scrutiny Committee acts as a filter so that Parliament need only consider the small...