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Ministerial Powers

Volume 84: debated on Tuesday 22 October 1985

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asked the Prime Minister what are the respective responsibilities of (a) departmental legal advisers and (b) the Law Officers of the Crown for advising whether draft regulations accord with ministerial powers under primary legislation.

I have been asked to reply.The primary responsibility for advising a Minister on whether subordinate legislation which he proposes to make would be intra vires rests with his departmental legal advisers, or if his Department does not have its own legal staff, with the Treasury Solicitor. In appropriate cases a second opinion may be sought from Treasury Counsel or other counsel nominated by the Attorney-General. However, the Attorney-General—or the Lord Advocate for questions involving the law of Scotland — is the Government's principal legal adviser, and departmental advisers are aware that they should consult the Law Officers in good time before the Government are committed to critical decisions involving legal considerations and in particular when a Department's legal adviser is in doubt concerning the vires of proposed subordinate legislation.