Subordinate Legislation

Government Ministers (or another authroised person) can make laws called subordinate, delegated or secondary legislation, if they have the required powers under an Act of Parliament.

Subordinate legislation is often used to:

  • provide the details of how a law will be applied
  • bring a specific section or sections of an Act into force
  • amend existing Acts
 Negative instruments  Affirmative instruments


 Negative instruments are usually made (that is, signed by a Minister before they are laid in Parliament, and they generally come into force 28 days after being laid.


 Affirmative instruments are normally laid before the Parliament in draft form and require the approval of the Parliament in order to come into force or (more rarely) to remain in force.

Further information on this process can be found on the Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee webpage.


For further information on the work of the Committee you can contact the Clerks on 0131 348 5211 or by e-mail at

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