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.

To prevent a negative instrument coming into force or remaining in force, a motion to annul it has to be agreed by the Parliament in the Chamber no later than 40 days after the instrument was laid.

The procedure for dealing with a negative instrument is as follows:

  • The Delegated Powers and Law Reform Committee considers the technical and legal aspects of the instrument and has to report on these to the relevant lead committee normally no later than 20 days after the instrument is laid.
  • A negative instrument normally comes into force 28 days after being laid.
  • An MSP who wishes to prevent the instrument coming into or remaining in force has to lodge a motion to annul it no later than 40 days from the date the instrument was laid.
  • Where the lead committee recommends that the instrument should be annulled, it must report to the Parliament no later than 40 days from the date the instrument was laid.
  • Where the lead committee recommends annulment in its report to the Parliament, the Parliamentary Bureau must lodge a motion to annul the instrument and schedule time for consideration of the motion in the Chamber to take place no later than 40 days from the date the instrument was laid.

In practice, the last date for consideration of a motion in the Chamber is the last Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday before or including the 40th day from the date the instrument was laid, and the last date for the lead committee to report is the Monday of that week.