Parliamentary Law Making Process

Information on the law making process in parliament

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The Law Making Process Unit
The primary source of law within the United Kingdom is an act of parliament each act
begins life as a bill before going through as specific process before becoming law.
Each political party will outline in its manifesto the bills it intends to propose if it gains a
majority in the general election, the Queen's speech at the state opening of parliament
also identifies these policies. Before a bill is formally written they often start as
command papers which come in two forms green and white papers.
Green Papers: a consultative document which is often the first stage of a
proposed government bill which may also contain alternative proposals so that
the issue can be considered before a decision is made on whether or not to
take it further.
White Papers: a firm proposal by the government, a white paper has gone
through the consultation stage and has been decided that the government
wished to propose this bill to parliament.
There are two main types of bills public bills and private bills.
Public Bills
Public bills are bills that apply to the general public as a whole some apply to the whole
of the United Kingdom whilst some only apply to England and Wales. Since the
devolution of power to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh assembly the ability to
make laws on certain areas has been limited. Public bills come in two forms
government bills and private members' bills both of which start off in the House of
Government Bills
The majority of bills put before parliament are government bills, most of these bills do
proceed to become acts of parliament because they are supported by the party that has
a majority of seats, these bills almost always begin as green or white papers and can
be introduced to parliament by any minister within the government.
Private Members' Bills
These bills can be introduced by any MP who is not a member of the government
including back benchers from the governing party and any MP from the opposition. Very
few of these bills become laws when compared to government bills, this is partly due to
the short period of parliamentary debating time allocated to them, the names of twenty
MPs who wish to speak are drawn at random and each is given ten minutes in which to
introduce the bill and allow time for an objector to reply. Notable private members' bills
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The Law Making Process Unit
that became acts are the Abortion Act (1967) and the Murder [Abolition of the
Death Penalty Act] (1965).
Private Bills
Unlike public bills, private bills begin in the House of Lords rather than the House of
Commons and rather than affecting the general public they affect specific individuals or
organisations. They are introduced to parliament through petitions of individuals, local
authorities or organisations and considered rare in occurrence in comparison to public
bills.…read more

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The Law Making Process Unit
progress and be passed on to the house of lords. The only changes that can
be made at this point are grammatical or spelling ones.
House of Lords
The process is repeated by the House of Lords with the main difference that there is no
report stage due to the fact that the committee in the House of Lords is made up of the
entire house rather than a select few.…read more

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The Law Making Process Unit
- The process is slow and time consuming which is not appropriate because
some laws may be needed urgently.
- Royal assent is not given by the monarch meaning it could be open to
exploitation and political bias as the person who actually gives it, unlike the
queen has no obligation to remain neutral.…read more


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