Negative resolutions

Statutory instruments can be introduced by a ‘negative resolution’ procedure (no debate).

Negative resolutions are more common than affirmative resolutions. Under the negative procedure the new regulations will become law unless they are rejected by a resolution within 40 days.  The criticism of the negative resolution procedure is that the government readily use this procedure when introducing the vast majority of statutory instruments.  This means that in turn the majority of legislation of this kind is not debated by Parliament.

The affirmative procedure can be commended on the basis that it brings about a debate and therefore increases awareness.  It also means that in effect this form of delegated legislation can only be brought into effect if approved by Parliament.

However, in reality, only a small number of S.I.’s are introduced in this way.  The enabling Act sets out whether an affirmative resolution is required.  The procedure has been used where individual rights are affected and an example of this being that any new or revised Codes of Practice under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 can only be introduced using this method.  The significance is that Parliament cannot amend the statutory instrument.  Under this procedure it can only be approved, annulled or withdrawn.