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What is Delegated Legislation?
Delegated Legislation is law made by other bodies other than parliament. Parliament usually
prescribes the power in an `enabling act'. This is also referred to a `Parent Act'. This creates the
framework of the law and then delegates the power to either the minister in charge or
government body. Examples of an enabling Act include the Access to Justice Act 1999 which
provided the Lord Chancellor with wide powers to alter various aspects of legal funding.
Types of Delegated legislation
1) Orders in Council.
The Emergency Powers Act 1920 and Civil Contingencies Act 2004, allows the government to
pass emergency legislation in times of war. This body is known as the Privy Council. This
council consists of the Prime Minister and other leading members of the government. It is used
to alter legislation quickly as there is no need for the legislation to pass through parliament
quickly. It is also used to implement European Directives. It was also used to alter the Misuse
of Drugs Act 1971 to make Cannabis a class C drug.
2) Statutory Instruments
Ministers and government departments are given authority to make legislation for areas under
their responsibility. The use of statutory instruments is a major method of law making and over
3,000 statutory instruments are released a year. An example would be the Lord Chancellor
amending legal funding legislation or the Minister of Transport altering transport regulations. The
Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 gives ministers the power to alter legislation if it
helps to reduce the burden of legislation.
These are released by local authorities and relate to issues in that area. For example traffic
regulations and parking restrictions. Bylaws can also be made by private corporations. This
means that bodies such as the British Airports Authority can release bylaws regulating
behaviour on their premises. An example of such a bylaw is the smoking ban on the London
Why do we have delegated legislation ?
Parliament does not have the time to debate every small detail of complex regulations. If
parliament were responsible for the law necessary to regulate the country, the machinery of
parliament would collapse.
Parliament does not have the necessary technical or local knowledge to enact such legislation.
For example Health and Safety legislation is technical and requires expert knowledge and
parking restrictions require a detailed local knowledge.
Parliament tends to be concerned with broad issues of policy that affect the entire country.
However, the complexity of society demands that government departments need to control
issues of Health and Safety and technology making delegated legislation necessary.
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Delegated legislation can be altered easily as it is not such a lengthy process. It can be
enacted quickly and revoked if problematic. It is also important for implementing European Law.
Delegated legislation is useful in times of emergency as parliament would not have the time to
enact legislation during war time.
5) Future needs
The flexibility of Del leg enables it to be altered to cater for future events such as changes in
health provision.…read more
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This is when the delegated legislation goes beyond the powers laid down within the enabling
act. This occurred in Commissioners of Customs and Excise V Cure and Deeley Ltd
(1962) within this the Commission had released legislation stating that they had the power to
determine how much tax was due if a tax return was submitted late. The High Court overturned
this and stated that they did not have the power.…read more