Delegated Legislation

Revision cards on Delegated Legislation

HideShow resource information

Types of Delegated Legislation


Statutory Instruments (SIs)

  • Created by government ministers

 Road Traffic Act 1972

  • All motorcyclists must wear helmets; it is left to Minister of Transport

Road Vehicle Regulations 2003

  • Mobile phones cannot be used while driving
1 of 8

Reasons for Delegated Legislation (Advantages)


Relieves pressure on parliamentary time - The commons can concentrate on important laws, rather than technicalities.

Speed - contrast to average 9 months for parliamentary statute 

           - Food protection order 1986

Technicalities/expertise - Ministers will have expert knowledge of their department

Local knowledge - Law made by local authorities

Flexibility - can be made at any time, as opposed to acts that must be timetabled

Future needs - May not be catered for by the statute, but easily altered through DL if needed.

2 of 8

Control of Delegated Legislation


Power may be misused - bodies must be prevented making unsuitable DL.

General control methods

  1. Consultation The creators consult experts in the relevant field; for example, a SI on road traffic law may be referred to the AA. The enabling Act may make such consultation compulsory.
  2. Publication All DL is published, therefore is available for public scrutiny
3 of 8

Parliamentary Control

Parliament, through the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, may revoke any piece of DL.


Affirmative Resolution Procedure

May require that all DL under a particular Act is approved by a motion in both Houses of Parliament, with a debate and vote.    

Must be passed within 40 days.

Rare, and only for parent Acts of importance


Negative Resolution Procedure

New DL displayed in Parliament

Will become law unless any MP objects within 40 days.


Parliamentary Committees

Committees from both Houses to scrutinise Parliamentary legislation

Scrutiny Committee: reviews SIs

Delegated Powers Committee: watchdog for all DL

4 of 8

Judicial control

Delegated legislation may be challenged in the courts

If a piece of DL goes beyond the powers granted to it by Parliament in the relevant statute, it can be deemed “ultra vires” and therefore void.

There are two types of 'Ultra Vires'.

Procedural Ultra Vires: When a piece of delegated legislation is deemed to have not followed the correct procedure which was required by the enabling act. (Aylesbury Mushroom Case 1972)

Substantive Ultra Vires: When a piece of delegated legislation is deemed to be void because it places provisions on an area over which the enabling act did not give them the power to. (Strickland V Hayes BC)

A piece of DL can be challenged by anyone who believes that they have been adversely affected by it. They will apply to the High Court for Judicial Review.

5 of 8


The court will ask:

a) Did the maker of the DL exceed the powers given in the parent Act?

Bulger case 1996 - Home Secretary Michael Howard intervenes to increase minimum sentence of 2 murderers from 8 to 15 years; this was ultra vires.

R v Wood 1855 - Minister for Health created an SI that would force all people to clear snow off their own paths, on the pretext that it was an “unhygienic substance”

b) Is the DL irrational or unreasonable?

Strickland v Hayes BC - A bylaw would prohibit obscene songs/language in any place, including in private. Held to be unreasonable.

c) Has there been a defect in the procedure by which the DL was made?

Aylesbury Mushroom Case 1972 - The minister did not consult the Mushroom Growers’ Association when the enabling act required them to.

6 of 8

Critisisms of Delegated Legislation


  • Takes legislation away from elected bodies
  • Some DL causes a minister to have actual legislative power European Communities Act 1972- gives ministers power to make provisions which implement EU policies CLSA 1990- LC has power to amend/repeal laws on provision of legal services
  • Sub-delegation Much law made by civil servants, merely rubber-stamped by ministers
  • Made largely in private - lack of publicity
  • Like statute, can suffer from obscure/difficult wording
  • Insufficient control Public are frequently unaware of how to challenge it Air Navigation Order 1995
  • Some enabling Acts give wide powers to Ministers Hard to prove them acting ultra vires
  • Rarely possible to prevent DL being passed Because of the Parliamentary procedures involved.
7 of 8



  • Local authorities make laws for a local area.
  • May also be made by some public corporations, eg London Underground

eg, littering fines

Orders in Council

  • Made by the Queen and Privy Council
  • In times of emergency
  • Most frequently where SIs would be inappropriate

Eg Foot and Mouth crisis, 2001

8 of 8


No comments have yet been made

Similar Law resources:

See all Law resources »See all Delegated legislation resources »