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4.9 The control of delegated legislation

You may have been surprised to read that through delegated legislation an enormous amount of law is made every year outside of the democratically elected parliamentary process and therefore this law is being made by non-elected people. There are, however, certain safeguards to ensure that delegated legislation is controlled by way of both parliamentary and judicial control.

4.8 Professional regulations

Certain professional bodies, such as The Solicitors Regulation Authority, have delegated authority under enabling legislation to regulate the conduct of their members. The Solicitors Regulation Authority has power to control the conduct of practising solicitors under the Solicitors Act 1974. The General Medical Council regulates the conduct of its members under the Medical Act of 1858. It has four main functions:

  • to keep up-to-date registers of qualif
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4.7 Court Rule committees

Court Rule committees have delegated powers from such Acts as the Supreme Court Act 1981, the County Courts Act 1984 and the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980, to make rules which govern procedure in particular courts. For example, the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee was established in 2004 to make rules of procedure for all the criminal courts in England and Wales, up to and including the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division). The Family Procedure Rule Committee was set up under the Courts Act
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4.6 Orders in Council

These are more correctly called Orders of the Legislative Committee of the Privy Council. The Government can make law through the Privy Council without going through the full parliamentary process. Orders in Council can be used by the Government in times of state emergency under the Emergency Powers Act 1920 and the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. However, they are also used to give legal effect to European law under the European Communities Act 1972 and to amend other types of law. An e
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4.5 Byelaws

Byelaws can be made by local authorities and certain other public corporations and companies concerning issues within the scope of their geographic or other areas of responsibility. So, a County Council can make byelaws affecting the whole county, whilst a District or Town Council can only make byelaws for the district or town. Byelaws are usually created when there is no general legislation that deals with an issue that concerns people in a local area. If a council wishes to make a byelaw it
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4.4 Statutory Instruments

The vast majority of delegated legislation is in the form of Statutory Instruments (SIs). SIs are rules and regulations made by Government ministers acting under the delegated power given to them or their department by Parliament in a broadly drafted parent or enabling Act concerning their area of responsibility, for example, health or transport or education. SIs are normally drafted by the legal department of the minister concerned and are just as much part of the law as their parent or enab
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4.3 Types of delegated legislation

There are different types of delegated legislation:

  • Statutory Instruments

  • byelaws

  • Orders in Council

  • Court Rule committees

  • professional regulations.

2.7 (iii) Royal Commissions

Royal Commissions occasionally report to Parliament with recommendations for legislation which may be taken up as part of the Government's legislative programme. Royal Commissions are advisory committees established by the Government – though formally appointed by the Crown, hence the ‘Royal’ – to investigate any subject the Government sees fit to refer to one. They are often used for non-party political issues, or for issues that a Government wishes to be seen as addressing in a
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2.5 (i) Party manifestos

When there is a general election most of the political parties publish a list of the reforms they would carry out if they were elected as the next Government. This is called the party's manifesto. Acts of Parliament may derive from the party manifesto on which the Government is elected. Below is an example of a party manifesto for the fictitious ‘Progressive Political Party’:

You may have s
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Law making in the House of Commons and House of Lords

One of the main functions of both Houses of Parliament is to discuss, debate and pass new laws. Laws made by Parliament are called Acts of Parliament. Acts of Parliament are also known as statutes or legislation. These terms all mean the same thing and will be used interchangeably throughout this unit.

Acts of Parliament may originate in various ways:

  1. party manifestos

  2. national emergency, crisis or new development


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The House of Commons

The members of the House of Commons are elected by the public, with the country being divided into constituencies and each of these returning one Member of Parliament (known as an MP). There must be a general election every five years, though an election can be called sooner by the Prime Minister. The Government of the day is generally formed by the political party which has the most MPs elected to the House of Commons. The Prime Minister will usually be the leader of the largest political pa
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2.1 The Houses of Parliament

In this unit we will be concentrating on how Acts of Parliament are made in England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate procedures for making legal rules, although they are largely similar. In England and Wales, Parliament consists of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The site of the Houses of Parliament is the Palace of Westminster in London. The Palace of Westminster was a royal palace and the former residence of monarchs.

The UK Parliament dates f
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1 Rule making in England and Wales

One of the most important functions of any legal system is to state the legal rules by which the society in question is to operate. Legal rules are not necessarily the only codes which prescribe social behaviour (morals and etiquette are others), but legal rules are distinct in that they constitute an official code which has the backing of state powers of enforcement and sanctions. This unit explores the major sources of legal rule making in England and Wales – the Westminster Parliament. M
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12 More information about W150 An introduction to law in contemporary Scotland

This unit has been been designed as a taster for the Open University's short course W150 An introduction to law in contemporary Scotland. Over four months the course covers a range of topics which introduce students to law making in Scotland, the structure of the Scottish court system, court procedure before moving on to look at some specific areas of law: Child Law, Employment Law, Human Rights and Unlawful Conduct.

The purpose of the course is to provide an overview of contempo
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11 How can a citizen become involved in this law making process?

As one of our constitutional duties citizens are expected to vote in Parliamentary elections. Both MSPs and MPs are elected. In voting in those elections a citizen is becoming involved in law making (even though they may not realise this).

The Scottish Parliamentary process has been designed to be as open as possible. This is reflected not only in the procedures that have been established, but also in the design of the Parliament building itself. The debating chamber, which was central
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8 Reading an Act of the Scottish Parliament

In this section we will explore what an Act of Parliament looks like, how Acts of Parliament are structured, and how you should read an Act of Parliament.

Copies of all Acts of the Scottish Parliament are kept in the National Archives of Scotland. Copies of all Acts of the UK Parliament have been kept since 1497. Most of these are kept in the House of Lords Record Office in the Victoria Tower at Westminster, and are available for public inspection on arrangement with the Clerk of the Re
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7.3.1 Stages of a Bill

  • 1 First reading: The title of a Bill is read out and copies of it are printed, but no debate takes place. There will be a vote on whether the House wishes to consider the Bill further.

  • 2 Second reading: The general principles contained in the Bill are debated by MPs. Frequently, the second reading stage is the point at which public attention becomes drawn to the proposal through press coverage, and on occasion, vociferous campa
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7.3 Procedure by which Bills become law

In order to become an Act of Parliament, a Bill will have to be passed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. A Bill may start in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords, with the exception of Finance Bills, which always start in the House of Commons. A Finance Bill is introduced by the Government shortly after the Budget to bring the Government's tax proposals into law.

Before the Bill can become an Act of Parliament it must undergo a number of stages.


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7.2 Preparing and drafting a Bill

A period of preparation of a Bill allows time to scrutinise evidence on the policies underlying Bills, and to consider whether Bills can be improved before they are introduced. Proper preparation of a Bill should lead to better-informed debates on Bills when they are introduced, and may save time by identifying problems at an early stage. This period of pre-legislative scrutiny allows valuable time for consideration, and therefore helps to avoid introducing laws that are unworkable. Consultat
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