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Bills and delegated legislation


Bills are proposals for new laws. If they pass every stage of scrutiny in the House of Commons and House of Lords, they receive Royal Assent and become Acts of Parliament. You can suggest amendments to bills at various points in their journey through the House of Commons.

Most bills that become Acts of Parliament are public bills, which means they apply to everyone and affect all people in the same way. Most public bills are Government bills, proposed by a minister. Public bills proposed by an MP who’s not a minister are known as Private Members' Bills.

Private Members’ Bills are different from private bills. Private bills affect particular groups, people or places in a different way from others. For example, they might affect some local councils but not others.

Hybrid bills combine elements of public and private bills. This means they apply generally but also have a particular effect on specific groups, people or places. The High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill is an example.

Delegated Legislation

Ministers use delegated legislation to make changes to the law under powers given to them in an Act of Parliament. Delegated legislation is sometimes known as secondary legislation (to distinguish it from Acts of Parliament, which are primary legislation).

Some delegated legislation is technical (for example, it updates the amount of a fine imposed by an Act). Some is more wide-ranging and fills out the detail of a broad provision in an Act (for example, the Act specifies that there will be an appeals process and delegated legislation sets out how the appeals process will work).

The Government can also add provisions to a bill to enable them to use delegated legislation to repeal or amend an Act of Parliament. Such provisions are known as Henry VIII clauses.

Statutory instruments are the most common type of delegated legislation. Delegated legislation is just as much a part of the law as Acts of Parliament.

Contact an expert

Contact an expert

Public Bill Office