Subordinate Legislation

Picture of Subordinate Legislation documents

Government Ministers (or another authorised 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.

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


Negative Instruments

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

Affirmative Instruments

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. 


At its meeting on 17 January 2017 the Committee considered Financial Assistance for Environmental Purposes (Scotland) Order 2016 (SSI 2016/406). While the Committee made no recommendation in relation to the instrument, it agreed to write to the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform for further information on the Order. The Cabinet Secretary responded to this letter on 6 February 2017.

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