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Negative procedure

Most statutory instruments presented to Parliament are subject to the negative procedure. This means that Parliament is not required to approve the statutory instrument for it to become law. But either the House of Commons or the House of Lords can pass a motion within a specified period (usually 40 days) to annul the statutory instrument, which stops it having legal effect. The last time the House of Commons annulled a negative statutory instrument was in 1979.

You can submit a type of Early Day Motion (known as a ‘prayer’) to annul a negative statutory instrument. A prayer submitted by the official Opposition is likely to be debated, but there’s no guarantee of this. A prayer submitted by a backbencher is unlikely to be debated unless a large number of other MPs have also signed it. Prayers can be considered on Opposition days.

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