By Jenny Shepherd, Mar 7 2019 06:09PM
999 Call for the NHS is urging everyone to write to their MP to support NHS EDM #2013 which is an Early Day Motion called a “Prayer” Motion. It’s the only type of motion that can annul and stop secondary legislation.
This is urgent because the Department of Health has “quietly” introduced secondary legislation, in the form of a Statutory Instrument, to make major changes to NHS regulations that will damage the way in which GP/Primary Care and Commissioning works - and of course it will not benefit patients or staff.
We are asking MPs to use parliamentary procedure to call this legislation into question and annul the Statutory Instrument
Please visit our Prayer Motion page to find a LETTER TO MY MP template and more information. This is urgent we have until March 24th to get this annulled. It can be done.
Secondary legislation? What the Duck is all that about then?
In the light of raised eyebrows and lots of questions since we launched the Prayer Motion campaign - this blog post explains what secondary legislation is, when it was created and how it has been used and abused since it was introduced in the Statutory Instruments Act 1946.
The Parliament UK website says that:
Secondary legislation is law created by ministers (or other bodies) under powers given to them by an Act of Parliament - the Statutory Instruments Act 1946. It is used to fill in the details of Acts (primary legislation). These details provide practical measures that enable the law to be enforced and operate in daily life.
Most secondary legislation is created, 'made and laid' as a Statutory Instrument.
Statutory Instruments (SI) were intended as a device to allow Ministers to make minor updates and amend existing Bills without bothering the House of Commons (or indeed any part of parliament) - allowing ministers to deal with localised and/or minor issues and changes to law without time-wasting debates in the Commons.
That’s the theory. The practice seems to be a bit different.
THE BIG CONCERN
The theory sounds like common sense, sort of... Until you notice the sharp upward trend in the use of Statutory Instruments through the Thatcher Years, into New Labour and the last ten years of this thing we call ‘Austerity’ government.
The red lines in the table below show a huge disparity between the number of actual ACTS (Primary Legislation passed in the Commons & Lords) and the number of Statutory Instruments.
By and large, because of the way they are made (the Negative Procedure), Statutory Instruments are only seen by ministerial committees. This means there is NO opposition oversight of or input into these legislative changes. In the case of this Statutory Instrument - it is not even required to have even nominal scrutiny by the cross-party-house Joint Committee of Statutory Instruments (Select Committee).
What’s the point of having Parliamentary opposition if it can’t oppose? To use the Mainstream Media’s classic line “where's the balance?” One party state, anyone?
Latest figures on the number of SI’s passing through unseen? The House of Commons Background Paper on Statutory Instruments (2016) says:
In the region of 3,500 SIs are made each year. Many SIs are not subject to any parliamentary procedure, and simply become law on the date stated. Whether they are subject to parliamentary procedure, and if so which one, is determined by the parent Act.
On top of this,look at the size of these Statutory Instruments. Given the number of pages, can they really contain only minor amendments and non-vital pieces of policy making?
According to Bracknell: “Statutory Instruments vary enormously in their scope from substantial pieces of legislation to considerable numbers of orders temporarily restricting traffic on particular local roads.”
The full easy-to-read Bracknell report is here: https://vdocuments.site/acts-and-statutory-instruments.html
So we have to ask - are Statutory Instruments now a way of changing Acts and regulations without Parliamentary debate and proper scrutiny?
If so much paperwork filled with items, appendices and addendums is passing through the corridors of parliament unseen by most MPs and Lords, is it any wonder that we are crying out “Democracy? What Democracy?”
This concern applies with a vengeance to Statutory Instrument 2019 No.248 The Amendments Relating to the Provision of Integrated Care Regulations 2019. It contains pages and pages of guff.
It's a good job there is an Explanatory Memorandum to SI 2019#248 - be warned it’s uncomfortable reading but at least it’s in an English most MPs and members of the public can understand - if they were given the chance to read it of course.
If you haven't already please help make this happen. Don't be confused by Parliamentary Procedure.
Write to your MP from our Prayer Motion Page