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Advantages & disadvantages of delegated legislation

Updated March 23, 2017

Delegated legislation, also called secondary legislation, is law made by a person or group of people that are given executive authority by the primary legislation. It is law made without being heard or voted upon by the general population. This type of law exists in the United Kingdom and Australia, and there are advantages and disadvantages to this form of legislation.

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Time Advantages

Delegated legislation saves a lot of time in Parliament because it gives the members a chance to create rapid change to small items. Sometimes only minor changes need to be changed to existing legislation, such as further clarification or fixing a typo, and delegated legislation makes minor changes simple.

Quick Decision Making

Delegated legislation makes passing a new and necessary law more quickly than traditional methods. In some cases, Parliament will not have the time to accurately develop of piece of legislation, and a quick creation and implementation is required for the safety of a nation. For example, The Prevention of Terrorism Act was created as a delegation legislation in the U.K. and this law made it possible to add new prohibited groups to the Terrorism Act.

Scrutinised for Quick Decisions

Delegated legislation also has disadvantages. It implies that Parliament does not have enough time to properly review and scrutinise a new piece of legislation and is only approving things to move on with their workload. The sheer volume of delegated legislation is also a concern because laws can get passed without anyone paying much close attention.

Lack of Public Participation

There is a huge lack of publicity with all delegated legislation. Citizens are simply not told new laws, to the point where some lawyers are not aware of the new laws either. This goes back to the volume of delegated legislation that passes the desks of civil servants and other unelected officials.

Undemocratic Approval Process

The approval of delegated legislation often falls on the desk of unelected civil servants that are appointed by people involved with primary legislation in Parliament. Parliament members give unelected civil servants a great amount of power to pass laws on their behalf, and they do not need to disclose all the details of delegated legislation.


There are clear advantages, such as saving time, and disadvantages, such as legality and potential abuse of the delegated legislative system. Members of the British Parliament argue that it is a necessary evil to have delegated legislation in order to keep Parliament moving and solving the most pressing problems.

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About the Author

Carmen Grant has been a freelance writer for more than six years. She is an accredited financial counselor, has a B.A. in international relations and political science and is working on an M.A. in Web design. Her work has been published at eHow, Suite101.com, Military Spouse Magazine, and Type-a-Mom.

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