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In the British political system, almost all legislation is proposed by the Government and much of it comes from promises made in the manifesto of the relevant political party at the last election. At the beginning of each annual session of the Parliament, the main Bills to be considered are announced by the Queen in a speech opening that year's session of Parliament.

All legislation has to be approved by both Houses of Parliament.

In each House of Parliament, a proposed piece of legislation - called a Bill - goes through the following stages:

  • First Reading - the Bill is introduced with simply a reading by a Minister of the long title of the Bill
  • Second Reading - the general principles of the Bill are debated by all the members of the House and a formal vote is taken
  • Committee Stage - each clause and schedule of the Bill, plus amendments to them and any new clauses or schedules, is examined in detail, in the Commons by a small, specially chosen group of members meeting as Public Bill Committee or in the Lords by the members as a whole on the floor of the House
  • Report Stage - the changes made to the Bill in the Committee are reported to and debated by the whole House which is invited to consider the Bill as a whole, approve the changes by the Committee, and consider any further proposed changes that might be suggested
  • Third Reading - the final version of the Bill is considered by the whole House in a short debate (in the Commons without the facility for further amendments)
  • Royal Assent - the Crown gives assent to the Bill which then becomes an Act, the provisions becoming law either immediately or at a date specified in the Act or at a date specified by what is called a Commencement Order

Several points are worth noting about the legislative process:

  • Under normal circumstances, all these stages must be completed in both Houses in one session of Parliament; otherwise the process must begin all over again.
  • Debates on most Bills are timetabled through a programme motion (when Government and Opposition agree) or an allocation of time motion which is popularly known as a 'guillotine' motion (when Government and Opposition do not agree).
  • As well as almost all legislation coming from the Government, almost all successful amendments originate from the Government.
  • The House of Lords has much more limited legislative powers than the House of Commons. Money Bills can only be initiated in the Commons and the Lords can only reject legislation from the Commons for one year. Furthermore there is a convention - called the Salisbury Convention - that the Lords does not block legislation in fulfillment of the election manifesto of the elected Government.

Link: Bill stages click here

Date: 2014-12-29; view: 1145

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