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In many countries, a statutory instrument is a form of delegated legislation.

United Kingdom

Main article: Statutory instrument (UK)

Statutory instruments are the principal form of delegated or secondary legislation in the United Kingdom.

National government

Statutory instruments (or 'regulations')[1] are primarily governed by the Statutory Instruments Act 1946,[2] which replaced the system of statutory rules and orders governed by the Rules Publication Act 1893.

Following the 2016 EU membership referendum and the subsequent publication of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, there has been concern that its powers enabling ministers to issue statutory instruments under the bill may enable the government to bypass Parliament. Although this has been criticised by some as being undemocratic, draft regulations must be "laid before" Parliament, which may always demand a full debate on contentious issues.[3]

Devolved administrations

Devolved administrations also have the power to make Statutory Instruments within the heads of powers that are devolved to them.


Wales Statutory Instruments made by the Welsh Government are published as a subseries of the UK statutory instrument series—for example, the Environment (Wales) Act 2016 (Commencement No. 3) Order 2017 is numbered 2017 No. 714 (W. 171), meaning it is the 714th statutory instrument in the UK series and 171st in the Wales subseries.[4]


Main article: Scottish Statutory Instrument

In Scotland, statutory instruments made by the Scottish Government were governed by the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 following devolution until the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 came into force.[5][6][7] Unlike Wales Statutory Instruments, Scottish Statutory Instruments are not published as a subseries of the UK series—instead, they are published separately by the Queen's Printer for Scotland. However, any UK statutory instruments dealing with reserved matters and applying only to Scotland are published in a UK subseries, such as the Insolvent Companies (Reports on Conduct of Directors) (Scotland) Rules 2016 numbered 2016 No. 185 (S. 1).[8]: 12 [9]

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, delegated legislation is organised into statutory rules, rather than statutory instruments.


In the Republic of Ireland the term "statutory instrument" is given a much broader meaning than under the UK legislation. Under the Statutory Instruments Act 1947 a statutory instrument is defined as being "an order, regulation, rule, scheme or bye-law made in exercise of a power conferred by statute".

However, only certain statutory instrument are published and numbered by the Stationery Office, this being mostly where the statute enabling the enactment of delegated legislation required that any such legislation be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

United States

Two close equivalents of similar operation are

Other countries

Similarly to the United Kingdom, national and state/provincial governments in Australia and Canada also call their delegated legislation statutory instruments.

Canada uses statutory instruments for proclamations by the King of Canada. For example, the Proclamation of the Queen of Canada on April 17, 1982 brought into force the Constitution Act 1982, the UK parts of which are known as the Canada Act 1982.

See also


  1. ^ UK Statutory Instrument regulations should be distinguished from EU Regulations which are legislative acts that become immediately enforceable as law in all member states simultaneously.
  2. ^ "Statutory Instruments Act 1946 (c. 36, 9–10 Geo. VI)",, The National Archives, 1946 c. 36
  3. ^ What are statutory instruments, and do they show “contempt for democracy”? New Statesman
  4. ^ Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament. The Environment (Wales) Act 2016 (Commencement No. 3) Order 2017 (SI 2017/714 (W. 171)) as made, from
  5. ^ "The Scotland Act 1998 (Transitory and Transitional Provisions) (Statutory Instruments) Order 1999 (SI 1999/1096)",, The National Archives, SI 1999/1096
  6. ^ Scottish Parliament. Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 (asp 10) as amended (see also enacted form), from
  7. ^ Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Statutory Instrument Regulations 2011 (SSI 2011/195) as made, from
  8. ^ Her Majesty's Stationery Office (2006). Statutory Instrument Practice: A manual for those concerned with the preparation of statutory instruments and the parliamentary procedures related to them. Office of Public Sector Information.
  9. ^ "The Insolvent Companies (Reports on Conduct of Directors) (Scotland) Rules 2016 (SI 2016/185 (S. 1))",, The National Archives, SI 2016/185