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4.13 The disadvantages of delegated legislation

The disadvantages of delegated legislation include the following:


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4.12.3 Flexibility

Delegated legislation is more flexible than an Act of Parliament. It is far simpler to amend a piece of delegated legislation than to amend an Act of Parliament.

4.12.2 Expertise

Delegated legislation by its very nature concerns specialist technical and/or local knowledge. So it is an advantage for such specialist provisions to be dealt with by those who have this knowledge rather than by Members of Parliament who generally would not have the required specialist or local knowledge.

4.12.1 Time

Delegated legislation is far quicker to introduce than an Act of Parliament. This can be an advantage in instances when emergencies or unforeseen problems require laws to be changed. The use of delegated legislation also saves parliamentary time. The detail of the delegated legislation can be dealt with by the appropriate minister, leaving Parliament as a whole more time to focus on the general principles of the enabling Act.

4.12 The advantages of delegated legislation

The advantages of delegated legislation include the following:


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4.11.2 Substantial ultra vires

This is where the delegated legislation goes beyond what Parliament intended.

In R v Secretary of State for Education and Employment, ex parte National Union of Teachers (2000) QBD, the High Court determined that an SI concerning teachers’ pay and appraisal arrangements went beyond the powers provided under the Education Act 1996. Therefore, the delegated legislation was declared to be ultra vires on substantive grounds.

4.11.1 Procedural ultra vires

This is where the enabling Act sets out the procedural rules to be followed by the body which has been given the delegated power. The court can find the delegated legislation to be ultra vires and void if these rules were not followed.

In the Aylesbury Mushroom case (1972) Agricultural Horticultural and Forestry Industry Training Board v Aylesbury Mushrooms Ltd (1972) 1 All ER 280 delegated legislation required the Minister of Labour to consult ‘any organisation &#x
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4.11 Judicial control

Delegated legislation is also subject to control by the courts whose judges can declare a piece of delegated legislation to be ultra vires. Ultra vires means ‘beyond powers’, so the court would be saying that a piece of delegated legislation went beyond the powers granted by Parliament within the enabling Act. If the court does this, then the delegated legislation in question would be void and not effective.

There are two types of ultra vires:


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4.10 Parliamentary control

Initially, Parliament has control in that the enabling or parent Act passed by Parliament sets out the framework or parameters within which delegated legislation is made. In addition, there are scrutiny committees in both Houses of Parliament whose role is to consider the delegated powers proposed by a Bill. However, these committees have limited power. European legislation is considered by a specific committee and local authority byelaws are usually subject to the approval of the Department
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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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