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Delegated Legislation

Delegated legislation is the law that is made by somebody else than parliament, however, with parliament’s authority. Usually, Government has to pass an enabling Act, which sets up the major framework of certain reform, and then to empower some subordinate body, as a rule, a Minister, to enact the detailed rules which are needed for completing the scheme. Among such enabling Acts, there is, for example, the Criminal Justice Act 2003 that provides the Secretary of State with the right to make delegated legislation in a couple of areas. One of these powers gives the right for creating the code of practice for the use of conditional cautions, which are used rather than taking an offender to court.

Advantages of Delegated Legislation

One important advantage of delegated legislation is that parliamentary time is saved on insignificant matters. As a rule, local knowledge is desirable when it is necessary to decide what local bylaws should be passed. Thereout, such tasks are given to the local authorities. Delegated legislation is introduced much quicker than an Act of Parliament. It is very beneficial in cases when emergencies or unforeseen issues require any changes in laws. If there is a need to deal with any detail of the delegated legislation, it can be done with the appropriate minister. This way, Parliament gets more time to concentrate on the general principles of the enabling Act.

Delegated legislation touches upon specialist technical knowledge. Therefore, it is beneficial for such specialist provisions to be dealt with by the ones, who have such knowledge, rather than Parliament’s Members, who generally do not have the necessary specialist or local knowledge.

One more advantage of delegated legislation is that it has bigger flexibility than an Act of Parliament. Also, it is easier to make minor changes in a piece of delegated legislation than in the whole Act of Parliament.

Disadvantages of Delegated Legislations

The major unfavorable condition is that it takes the right and process of lawmaking away from the House of Commons. The power to make law is passed to unelected experts under the ministers’ supervision.

The fact of being accountable is an issue that the authority vested in Parliament to make law is delegated away from Parliament, probably through several “layers.” Also, in general, Parliament’s Members have no expertise to consider proposed legislation efficiently.

The great volume of delegated legislation produces more than three thousand statutory instruments annually. Thus, it is quite complicated for Members of Parliament to keep up to date with the current law. The problem is becoming even bigger with the fact that delegated legislation is made in private.

In sum, delegated legislation, just like any other type of law, has both advantages and disadvantages. Almost all the disadvantages concern the accountability issue, as the power to make law is taken away from the democratically elected House of Commons.


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