Thursday, 25 November 2021

Diktats and denial of democracy

The eminent legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg has drawn attention to two reports from House of Lords committees

Government by diktat? - by Joshua Rozenberg - A Lawyer Writes (

The reports are from the Secondary legislation scrutiny committee and the Delegated powers and Regulatory Reform Committee

Two Lords reports published on the balance of power between Parliament and the Executive - Committees - UK Parliament#

The reports are

entitled Government by diktat: A call to return power to Parliament and Democracy denied? The urgent need to rebalance power between Parliament and the Executive. Each report contains a stark warning about the shift in power towards the executive.

Secondary legislation is being used extensively to enable Ministers to make law (in the form of secondary legislation) and, by the use of so-called Henry VIII Clauses, to amend Acts of Parliament. The trend has got worse by the twin challenges of Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic. By using skeleton Acts of Parliament, Ministers are making secondary legislation which receives only minimal scrutiny by the Houses of Parliament.

The reports are far from being the first warning of this trend.

Lord Judge was Lord Chief Justice from 2008-13 and, in speeches at the Mansion House (13 July 2010) and King's College, London (12 April 2016) criticised the extensive use of secondary legislation.

Previous post 14 June 2016 - Law and Lawyers: Lord Judge ~ Ceding power to the Executive (

Legislators appear to have largely disregarded such criticisms and have "doubled down" on the use of secondary legislation. As Joshua Rozenberg comments - "the cynic in me believes the government will simply try to sweep this under the carpet. It suits ministers to shift the balance of power in favour of the executive. It does not suit the rest of us."

25 November 2021

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