Delegated Legislation

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Orders In Council

  • These enable the governement to make law in the name of the Queen, through the Privy Council. This is a committee consisting of current and former cabinet ministers and other senior politicians.
  • In times of emergency, when Parliament is not sitting, the Emergency Powers Act 1920 allows the queen and Privy Council to make an Order in Council. These powers were used during the foot and mouth crisis in 2001, when decisions needed to be made quickly to attempt to prevent the spread of disease.
  • Orders in council can be used for a wide variety of purposes, for example the regulation of certain professional bodies. They are used when an ordinary statutory instrument would be inappropriate, such as where responsibilities are transferred between government deparments.
  • Orders in council were also used to transfer powers from ministers of the UK governement to those of the developed assemblies. Occasionally, Orders in council are used to make specific law changes, For example, in 2004 one was used to alter the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and re-classify cannabis as a class- C crug. They are also used to bring statutes into operation, and perhaps their widest use is uner s.2 (2) of the European Communities Act 1972.

Statutory Instruments

  • Acts of Parliament often confer powers on ministers to make more detailed orders, rules of regulations by means of Statutory Instruments (SIs). The scope of these powers vary greatly, from the technical - e.g. to vary the dates on which different provisions of an Act will come into force, to change the levels of fines or penalties for offences or to make consequential and trasitional provisions - to much wider powers, such as filling out the provisions in Acts. Often, Acts contain only a broad framework, and SIs are used to provide the necessary detail that would be considered too complex to include in the body of an Act.
  • Statutory instruments are usually published in the form of regulations. More than 3,000 are produced each year. There were 3,662 SIs made, for example, in 2007 Ministers and government departments are given authority to make regulations for their area of responsiblity. For instance, the Minister of Transport will have the power under various Road Traffic Acts to make detailed road traffic regulations. One example is s.64 of the Road Traffic Regualtion Act 1984, relating to traffic signs.

By Laws

  • Parliament has given local authorirties and other public bodies the right to make law in certain areas. All bylaws must be approved by the relevant government minister. Local authorities can make bylaws to cover such things as parking restrictions and banning the drinking of alcohol in certain public places.
  • Public corporations and certain companies can also make bylaws to help to enforce rules


Smith E

A very well written summary on delegated legislation. The advantages and disadvantages section, which can be learned for exams, is very good. It might be improved by the inclusion of examples.

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