Modern parliaments may delegate part of their legislative powers to the executive and other public authorities like local government councils, public corporations, government departments, and professional associations so that they can make certain bye-laws. This type of legislation is usually made in the form of statutory instruments by the appropriate minister or to whoever power has been delegated by parliament. Such legislation may deal with a wide range of subjects including wages, immigration, import-export restrictions, foreign exchange control, rationing, traffic signals, vehicle licences, etc.
These types of statutory instruments issued on the authority of the Enacting Act are called Delegated Legislation.
Forms of Delegated Legislation
1. Simple Delegation of Power to make Subordinate Legislation:
Certain Acts of the Legislature may provide, among other things, that the Minister or commissioner charged with the responsibilities for the issues covered by the Acts, may make such regulations as may be required from time to time for carrying into effect, the provisions of the Acts to be enacted.
2. Specific Delegations:
Certain Acts of the legislature, instead of giving the minister or commissioner a blank cheque so to speak, limit the subjects on which regulations may be made. These subjects are clearly enumerated and regulations cannot be made outside these subjects.
3. Delegation to make Regulations and Obligation to Publish:
Some Acts of the legislature empower certain authorities to make regulations provided that the regulations so made are published in the Gazette. This means that if the regulations are not published in the Gazette, they are not legal.
4. Delegation to make Regulations and Requirement to Lay before the Legislature:
Certain Acts of the legislature require that regulations made by delegated legislation be laid before the legislature for confirmation, modification or rejection as the case may be by the resolution of members of the legislature.
5. Delegation Sub-Delegate:
Certain Acts of the legislature authorise bodies to make subordinate regulations provided that such regulations are approved by a minister or a commissioner charged with the responsibilities for such subject.
Advantages of Delegated Legislation
1. Lack of Time and increase in Parliamentary Activities:
In modern times the functions of the parliament are enormous. These have gone beyond the levels of constitutional issues, foreign policy or taxation to various social economic legislation, health, education, social security and welfare, supervision and control of industry, etc. There is therefore inadequate time to discuss and investigate all legislators by parliament especially if government made sweeping promises on economic and social reforms and must get the legislation passed.
2. Technicality of the Subject Matter of Legislation:
Most members of parliament are not experts and specialists and therefore do not possess special knowledge of certain technical questions, which usually deals with administrative laws. For instance, legislation having to do with the control of Narcotic drugs, improvement of weapons technology, development of nuclear weapons, etc., requires a great deal of technical expertise, professional touch and precision beyond the reach of laymen politicians in the parliament.
3. Need for Flexibility:
Certain laws require periodic review and amendments in order to be up to date. Certain conditions which were held constant when laws were made may radically change so that such laws lag behind time. There is need for flexibility. This will therefore, give room for change so as to meet the new circumstances or unforeseen contingencies in the political system. Parliament cannot easily do this, hence the need for delegated legislation.
4. Need for Quick Action in Emergency:
Delegated legislation is justified because it enables actions to be taken quickly in times of emergency. Government may want instant power to declare war or to combat external aggression, or to suppress domestic insurrection. Ordinary legislative process may be time consuming, hence delegated legislation would prove indispensable in safeguarding the security and stability of the State.