Practice of the House of Lords on delegated legislation

31.27The general principles of parliamentary control and scrutiny described earlier in this chapter apply to the House of Lords as they apply to the Commons. But the Lords' practice and procedure in respect of delegated legislation differ in some aspects, as described below.

The Parliament Acts do not apply to delegated legislation. The House of Lords has only occasionally rejected delegated legislation,1 though the House has resolved ‘That this House affirms its unfettered freedom to vote on any subordinate legislation submitted for its consideration’.2 Delegated legislation may be debated in Grand Committee, but must return to the floor of the House if a formal decision is required.3


  1. 1. The last four instances of rejection of an affirmative instrument were 18 June 1968 (Southern Rhodesia (United Nations Sanctions) Order 1968); 22 February 2000 (Greater London Authority (Election Expenses) Order 2000); 28 March 2007 (Gambling (Geographical Distribution of Casino Premises Licences) Order 2007(; and 3 December 2012 (Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (Amendment of Schedule 1) Order 2012). A motion for an address praying against a negative instrument (Greater London Authority Elections Rules 2000) was agreed to on 22 February 2000. Motions to defer consideration of the Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 were agreed to on 26 October 2015, prompting a government review of procedure relating to delegated legislation (see Strathclyde Review: secondary legislation and the primacy of the House of Commons (Cm 9177)).
  2. 2. LJ (1993–94) 683; HL Deb (1993–94) 558, cc 356–83. See also House of Lords Constitution Committee, Sixteenth Report, The Legislative Process: The Delegation of Powers, HL 225 (2017–19).
  3. 3. House of Lords Procedure Committee, Third Report of Session 2003–04, HL 184; House of Lords Procedure Committee, First Report of Session 2008–09, HL 39.