Emergency Powers (Defence) Act 1939

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citation1939 c. 62


Emergency Powers (Defence) Act, 1939

(2 & 3 Geo. 6.) 62.

An Act to confer on His Majesty certain powers which it is expedient that His Majesty should be enabled to exercise in the present emergency; and to make further provision for purposes connected with the defence of the realm.

[24th August 1939]

Be it enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

S-1 Defence Regulations.

1 Defence Regulations.

(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, His Majesty may by Order in Council make such Regulations (in this Act referred to as ‘Defence Regulations’) as appear to him to be necessary or expedient for securing the public safety, the defence of the realm, the maintenance of public order and the efficient prosecution of any war in which His Majesty may be engaged, and for maintaining supplies and services essential to the life of the community.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the powers conferred by the preceding subsection, Defence Regulations may, so far as appears to His Majesty in Council to be necessary or expedient for any of the purposes mentioned in that subsection,—

(a ) make provision for the apprehension, trial and punishment of persons offending against the Regulations, and for the detention of persons whose detention appears to the Secretary of State to be expedient in the interests of the public safety or the defence of the realm;

(b ) authorise—

(i) the taking of possession or control, on behalf of His Majesty, of any property or undertaking;

(ii) the acquisition, on behalf of His Majesty, of any property other than land;

(c ) authorise the entering and search of any premises; and

(d ) provide for amending any enactment, for suspending the operation of any enactment, and for applying any enactment with or without modification.

(3) Defence Regulations may provide for empowering such authorities, persons or classes of persons as may be specified in the Regulations to make orders, rules and byelaws for any of the purposes for which such Regulations are authorised by this Act to be made, and may contain such incidental and supplementary provisions as appear to His Majesty in Council to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the Regulations.

(4) A Defence Regulation, and any order, rule or byelaw duly made in pursuance of such a Regulation, shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any enactment other than this Act or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any enactment other than this Act.

(5) Nothing in this section shall authorise the imposition of any form of compulsory naval, military or air force service or any form of industrial conscription, or the making of provision for the trial by courts martial of persons not being persons subject to the Naval Discipline Act, to military law or to the Air Force Act.

(6) In this section the expression ‘enactment’ includes any enactment of the Parliament of Northern Ireland.

S-2 Power to impose charges.

2 Power to impose charges.

(1) The Treasury may by order provide for imposing and recovering, in connection with any scheme of control contained in or authorised by Defence Regulations, such charges as may be specified in the order; and any such order may be varied or revoked by a subsequent order of the Treasury.

(2) Any charges recovered by virtue of such an order as aforesaid shall be paid into the Exchequer of the United Kingdom or, if the order so directs, be paid into such public fund or account as may be specified in the order.

(3) Any such order as aforesaid shall be laid before the Commons House of Parliament as soon as may be after it is made, but, notwithstanding anything in subsection (4) of section one of the Rules Publication Act, 1893 , shall be deemed not to be a statutory rule to which that section applies.

(4) Any such order as aforesaid imposing or increasing a charge shall cease to have effect on the expiration of the period of twenty-eight days beginning with the day on which the order is made, unless at some time before the expiration of that period it has been approved by a resolution of the Commons House of Parliament, without prejudice, however, to the validity of anything previously done under the order or to the making of a new order.

In reckoning any period of twenty-eight days for the purposes of this subsection, no account shall be taken of any time during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued, or during which the Commons House is adjourned for more than four days.

(5) Without prejudice to the preceding provisions of this section, any Defence Regulations may provide—

(a ) for charging, in respect of the grant or issue of any licence, permit, certificate or other document for the purposes of the Regulations, such fee not exceeding five pounds as may be prescribed under the Regulations with the approval of the Treasury; and

(b ) for imposing and recovering such charges as may be so prescribed in respect of any services which, in pursuance of such Regulations, are provided on behalf of His Majesty, or under arrangements made on behalf of His Majesty, other than services necessary for the performance of duties imposed by law upon the Crown;

and all sums received by way of such fees or charges as aforesaid shall be paid into the Exchequer of the United Kingdom or, if the Treasury so direct, be paid into such public fund or account as they may determine.

S-3 Extraterritorial operation of Defence Regulations.

3 Extraterritorial operation of Defence Regulations.

(1) Unless the contrary intention appears therefrom, any provisions contained in, or having effect under, any Defence Regulation shall—

(a ) in so far as they specifically impose prohibitions, restrictions or obligations in relation to ships, vessels or aircraft, or specifically authorise the doing of anything in relation to ships, vessels or aircraft, apply to all ships, vessels or aircraft in or over the United Kingdom and to all British ships or aircraft, not being Dominion ships or aircraft, wherever they may be; and

(b ) in so far as they impose prohibitions, restrictions or obligations on persons, apply (subject to the preceding provisions of this subsection) to all persons in the United Kingdom and all persons on board any British ship or aircraft, not being a Dominion ship or aircraft, and to all other persons being British subjects except persons in any of the following countries or territories, that is to say,—

(i) a Dominion...

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