Meaning of Delegated legislation

NOTE: Before you read this, have you understood what the “Constitution” is all about?

Definition of delegated legislation

    Delegated legislation is defined as the act of transferring powers and functions through the Acts of parliament to other organizations such as ministers, local governments, public Corporations (NEPA, Water Board), etc.

     Parliament finds it more convenient to lay down the general principles of laws and then leave the administrative and technical aspects to these other bodies, whose powers are delegated by the parliament.

Types of Delegated Legislation

1. Bye-Laws: These are laws made by local
governments.public corporations, ministries.
These powers are conferred on them through
the Acts of parliament.

2. Orders in Council: In Britain, for example
these orders or proclamations are for the
King to give orders on some
things having the backing of the law. These
orders are always approved by the privy council
(highest Court of Appeal in the United
Kingdom) which is a body that advises the crown on the political and governmental of the issues state.

3. Provisional Orders: A minister could be
given the power to run an undertaking,e.g
a water corporation, but at this level, it
is provisional or temporary until confirmed
by parliament.

4. Special procedure orders: The minister
makes the rule and pass it to the
parliament. The rule comes into force after
14 days, unless it is a petition or
have been lodged against it.

5. Statutory instrument: Ministerial
regulation is governed by Statutory
Instrument Acts. For example, no-smoking in public institutions (schools, health institutions, etc directed by the Ministry of health)


1. Reduction of workload: Delegated legislation had succeeded in reducing the pressure of work on parliament.

2. Useful for emergencies: In case of an external attack, the executive can take quick decisions.

3. It saves time: Delegated legislation saves
parliament enough time, whose legislative machinery could break down if it were to
enact all laws.

4. Technical languages: It is useful where
technical languages are involved in
government policies.

5. Efficiency: Delegated legislation makes for
efficiency and precision.

6. Experiment: It is useful where the experiment is desired. Most local achieved governments have something realistic through experiments.

7. Adjusting to changing situations: With development, the modern government can adjust to changing situations easily take care of contingencies.



1. It violates the principle of the rule of law: Delegated legislation violates the principle of the rule of law which emphasizes the freedom of citizens.

2. Lack of publicity: The numerous bye-laws, rules, and regulations are not known to the common citizen because they are not well-publicized.

3. It violates the principle of separation of powers: Delegated legislation also violates the principle of separation of powers and the Sovereignty of the legislature.

4.The executive: The executive may tend to grow more powerful than the legislature.

5. Too many law-making bodies: Delegated legislation involves too many law-making bodies. The power of the judiciary to review the activities of the legislature is made difficult.

6. Abuse of power: This can manifest itself, the departments involved in this exercise can easily abuse such powers delegated to them.

7. It is undemocratic: Most of the laws made by some of these bodies are draconian, and undemocratic and do not have the support of the people.

There are various methods in which the exercise of delegated legislation is controlled and these methods are:

1. Parliamentary control: The parliament has the power to control the bills of these various bodies before such bills become laws. It can equally reject laws made by these bodies. There are standing committees in parliament that examine most of the statutory instruments of these bodies laid before the parliament.

2. Judicial Control: The law courts exercise control over-rules and regulations made by these organizations. This is to make sure that these rules are made according to the
provisions of the constitution. Similarly, the Judiciary can declare unconstitutional some of the laws made by these organizations.

3.Ministerial control: Activities of public corporations are under the control of the minister. Most of the bye-laws, rules, and
regulations made always receive his attention. Also, the minister has the power to dissolve the board of directors of most of these

4. Auditing or financial control: The finances of most public corporations are audited to enhance efficient financial management. The government may set a team of auditors to perform this function.

5. Public Opinion: The opinions of the public towards most of these organizations could be negative or positive. For example, the opinion of the public towards NEPA is negative. Therefore, with this negative impression of the public, the government can
respond positively through the restructuring of the entire corporation. Equally, people are encouraged to let
their grievances or problems known to the appropriate bodies e.g. OMBUDSMAN (Public complaints commission) or any other
body with a similar expression.

6. Petitions: This is also away from controlling delegated legislation, people can write petitions against an organization on issues affecting the theme.g.corruption.
Also, people are encouraged to write letters to some government agencies about events unfolding themselves in some of these bodies or organizations.

7. Accountability of ministers: Ministers are in most cases summoned in parliament to account for the rules and regulations, bye-laws made in their various ministries.

7. Accountability of ministers: Ministers are in most cases summoned in parliament to account for the rules and regulations, bye-laws made in their various ministries.

8. Finance: Most of these bodies or organizations depend to a large extent on the government for allocations to meet their running cost. The government may withhold allocation to any of these organizations, as a way of checking their activities.

9. The Press: The press can act as a control of delegated legislation through their criticisms over-rules and regulations governing the activities of these organizations. Some of these rules are antagonistic to the rights of the citizens and the operation of the rule of law.

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