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Some of the divisions on delegated legislation in the House of Lords have been attempts to reject the legislation. These are often called ‘fatal’ amendments in that they have the effect of withholding the House’s agreement. Other divisions have taken place on amendments that have sought to place on record an objection to an SI, whilst stopping short of rejecting it altogether. These are often called ‘non-fatal’ amendments. Both terms are informal and do not feature in the Companion to the Standing Orders.

On 26 October 2015 the House agreed to two amendments to the motion to approve the Tax Credits (Income Thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015. Both amendments to the approval motion sought to delay consideration of the regulations until certain conditions were met. There was some discussion regarding whether the two amendments could be accurately defined as either fatal, in that they did not approve the regulations, or non-fatal, as they delayed, or declined to consider, the regulations until certain conditions had been met, rather than rejecting them outright. This appears to have been the first time amendments have been passed to decline to consider an instrument.

The Excel tables provide a breakdown of government defeats on delegated legislation in the House of Lords by parliamentary session and calendar year and categorise them as being on either fatal or non-fatal motions; the two defeats on the Tax Credits (Income thresholds and Determination of Rates) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 have been categorised as delaying motions. The table also lists the five instruments since 1950 that have been subject to a ‘fatal’ defeat. 


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