Thursday, 5 March 2009

Henry VIII Clauses

The following written question was tabled and answered -

Mr. Maude: To ask the Leader of the House how many Henry VIII clauses were contained in primary legislation enacted in Session 2007-08.

Chris Bryant: Henry VIII clauses, which confer on Ministers the power to amend the statute itself by delegated legislation, or to amend other statutes, are included in legislation for a variety of reasons.

In some cases, such as section 6 of the Smoke Detectors Act 1991, they confer power to make significant and wide-ranging amendments to the parent Act. In other cases they may be used to make incidental and consequential amendments to existing Acts.

The Government do not routinely collect or hold information about the number of Henry VIII provisions so the information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

The Minister gives a succinct definition. The answer was disappointing in view of the concerns about the (perceived) increase in the use of such clauses. They transfer legislative power from Parliament to the Executive. For more on Henry VIII clauses see http://washminster.blogspot.com/2007/06/henry-viii-clauses.html