Delegated Legislation

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Delegated Legislation


the promulgation by governments of bourgeois countries of regulative acts having the force of law, after these governments have been empowered to do so by parliament.

Instead of following its normal regulative legislative procedures, parliament in cases of delegated legislation renounces its legislative powers in favor of the government. Such an act of delegated legislation is issued in the case of questions exclusively within the competence of parliament. In cases of delegation of legislation, regulations may be issued not only by governments but by any executive authorities subordinate to them, such as ministries, departments, administrations, and bureaus. The delegation of legislative powers by parliament to a government may be carried out directly (parliament adopts a law indicating which body has the right to issue acts under the delegation of powers, on what questions, and for what period) or indirectly (the parliamentary law is stated in very general terms and cannot be implemented without the appropriate regulative activities of the executive bodies).

Acts adopted under the delegation of powers may come into force after they have been approved by parliamentary resolution or immediately after they have been issued, in which case they may be invalidated later by a parliamentary resolution. In bourgeois countries, parliamentary control (in Great Britain, Australia, and New Zealand) and judiciary control (in the United States and the Philippines) over the delegation of legislation are of a purely formal character.

The delegation of legislation, which became common in the imperialist period, openly contradicts the formerly proclaimed democratic principles of bourgeois constitutionalism and parliamentarianism, since it sharply curtails the rights and competence of the elected legislative bodies. The constitutions of many bourgeois states, including the United States, Belgium, Switzerland, and Denmark, either prohibit the delegation of legislation or have no clauses providing for it. Nevertheless, such delegation of legislation occurs in these countries. The constitutions adopted after World War II by Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, and France specifically provide for the possibility of the delegation of legislation.

Many contemporary bourgeois specialists on state and legal problems justify the wider adoption of the delegation of legislation on the basis of the increasing complexity of state administration and of the need for specialized knowledge. They consider that in such conditions parliament must confine itself to affirming general principles in the laws and cede the right of working out their details to those departments having the requisite technical qualifications. In reality, however, the delegation of legislation is one of the most obvious manifestations of the crisis in bourgeois parliamentarianism and legality, showing the lack of control of the governing circles.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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