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Parliament is the supreme legislative authority in this country. In other words it is the
supreme law making body. However, it passes on some of its authority to other bodies to
make laws on its behalf. This is known as delegation. Parliament delegates its powers
through a Parent Act, also known as an enabling Act.
1. Types of Delegated Legislation
There are three main types of delegated legislation. The first are statutory instruments.
There are about 3,000 of these each year. These are laws made by government ministers
who have been given this power by Parliament in a Parent Act. Examples are:
(a) Under the Education Reform Act 1988, Parliament introduced major educational
reforms, including the national curriculum. The Act itself identified the three core
subjects (Maths, English and Science), the other subjects
which had to be taught (e.g. History, R.E., Technology),
and the four key stages, with testing at 7, 11, 14, and 16.
The Secretary of State for Education was then given
powers to decide what should be taught in each subject at
each key stage. After consulting with various bodies, he made these decisions,
which then became law.
(b) Under the Access to Justice Act 1999 new rules were introduced for public funding
of court cases and advice (legal aid). The Act set up the Legal Services
Commission. However, the Lord Chancellor was given the power to decide which
types of cases should be given priority. He introduced statutory instruments
declaring that priority should be given to cases involving children, and to cases
where a person is at risk of a loss of life or liberty.
(c) A Road Traffic Act introduced compulsory helmets for motorcyclists. It gave
power to the Minister of Transport to decide the types of helmets that would have
to be worn.
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The second type of delegated legislation is bylaws. Here authority is given to local
authorities or to other public bodies (e.g. universities, utility companies, the National Trust)
to make laws for their area. For example, Rochdale Council is given authority by Parliament
to make rules (bylaws) over such matters as double yellow lines limiting parking. Examples
of bylaws would include:
(a) The Dog Fouling Act 1996 gave authority to local councils to introduce bylaws
punishing dog owners for allowing their dogs to foul public places.…read more
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In 2003 a Privy Council meeting made an order that banned any dealings with
Usama Bin Laden, AlQai'da, and the Taliban. This gave effect to a United
Nations resolution to deal with the problems in Afghanistan.
(c) the fuel crisis in 2000, when authority was given to the army to clear access to fuel
Orders in Council are also used to make laws when Parliament is not sitting.…read more