Control of delegated legislation

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Parlimentary control...

The initial control Parliment exercises over delegated legislation is through the limits it sets out in the parent Act. Only the people or bodies specified in the parent Act will have the power to make the law, and the extent of that power is also specified. Also, the parent Act will set out how the delegated legislation mus be made and may establish certain procedures, e.g. consulation, that must be followed.

The Scruitiny committee is made up of MPs and peers. Its role is to reiew statutory instruments and refer provisions requiring further consideration to both Houses of Parlaiment. The main reasons for referring a statutory instrument back to Parlaiment are:

  • it has one beyond/outside the powers given under the parent Act
  • it hasn't been made according to the method stipulated in the paret Act
  • unexpected use has been made of the delegated power
  • it is unclear or defective
  • it mposes a tax or charge - only Parlaiment has the right to do this
  • it is retrospective in its effecct and the parent Act did not allow for this

This is arguably one of the more effective controls. However it is impossible for the Scruitiny Committee to review all statutory instruments (over 3000 are created each year).

Most statutory instrumentsmust be laid before Parlaiment. This requires the statutory instruments to be laid on the table of the House. The parent Act will state whether the statutory instrument is to be laid before Parlaiment, and which method must be used. There are two methods of laying delegated legislation before Parlaiment:

1) affirmative resolution procedure - the statutory instrument must be approved by one of both Houses of Parlaiment within a specified time, usually between 28 and 40 days, before it can become law. The disadvantage of this form of control is that it is time-consumin defeating one of the main objectives of delegated legislation, which is to save Parliament time.

2) negative resolution procedure - the statutory instrument s laid before Parlaiment, usually for 40 days, during which time either House of Parliament can annul the instrument. All memebrs of both Houses can put down a motion, called as a 'prayer', calling for annulment. There is then a debate and a vote. If either House votes to pass the annument motion, the statutory instrument does not become law.

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