Types of Bills
There are two types of bills: Public Bills, and Private Bills. Private bills only affect particular bodies or persons, such as a local council, minister or pubilc corporation. The public bills are the ones that affect the majority, i.e. the members of the public. These divide into two more groups, Government bills (which are supported by the government) and private member's bills (which are supported by private members, such as MPs). Government Bills tend to get passed on as law more often than private member's bills, this is due to the fact that the government have a much larger proportion of support.
The first stage is the consultation. This is where the government or private member will consult the public about the law. This can be people such as experts in the subject, police officers, paramedics, If they think it is a good idea, then the pre-legislative scrutiny study the suject in further depth.
After the consultation, the government set out their ideas which is built in a discussion document: green paper. Comments which the government are given as feedback on this may then change their proposals, this can happen several times.
White paper is the firm and more developed version of the green paper. This is now the firm basis of the Bill, which will be introduced to Pariliament. This can either go to the House of Commons or the House of Lords first, but either way it must be approved by the second house as well as the first before it is sent off to royal assent to become law.
We will go through the rest of the process as if the white paper is going to the House of Commons first.
These stages are often called "readings" because before printed copies were around, the Bill would be read out to the Houses of Parliament. The first reading is basically to make the House aware that there is a new Bill coming in for discussion and debate.
The second reading is the more important reading. The ministor, who is piloting the bill for themselves or the government, will explain the Bill's purpose to the rest of the House. Afterwards, they will answer any questions that the other MP's will have. There is then a discussion about the Bill, followed by a vote as to whether or not the Bill should progress to the next stage.
Committee Stage and Report Stage
A separate committee, made up of selected MPs, is formed for each Bill. This committee go off into one of the committe rooms in order to study the Bill in depth. Then once they are satisfied with their alterations, the Bill is then sent back to the House for the Report Stage. This is where the MPs can see the changes that have been made by the committee.
Third Reading and First & Second Hearings in the H
The third reading is a chance for the House of Commons to look at the Bill with all the alterations and wordings and decide if the Bill should progress any further. If they decide to let it pass, the clerk will then hand the Bill to the House of Lords for them to look at the Bill. The first and second hearings are pretty much the same as the ones in the House of Commons.
Committee Stage in House of Lords
The committee stage in the House of Lords is different compared to the one in the House of Commons. Instead, the Lords will look at the Bill together in full detail, line by line. They will then discuss the Bill and make any suggestions for improvement.
Report Stage, Third Hearing and the 'Ping Pong' Pr
The report stage and the third hearing are two more oppertunities for the House of Lords to then spot any problems or wordings of the Bill. Once this stage is done, if any changes have been made, the Bill is sent back to show to the House of Commons. If they do not like the new changes, then the Bill will go through a 'ping pong' process of going between the two houses until they are both satisfied with the Bill.
Royal Assent and Other Info.
Once both of the houses are fully satisfied with the Bill, it is then sent to the Queen for approval (also known as the Royal Assent). Once the Bill has been given the Royal Assent, the Bill then becomes law. The Queen hasn't refused to give Royal Assent to a Bill since 1707, so chances are whatever the Bill says will go.
These laws don't always go through though. For example, when Tony Blaire was in power, he wanted to impose a new law that moved the time we could hold a suspected terrorist from 14 days, to 90 days. MPs, including ones from his own political party, rejected the Bill.
New laws can also cause major effects on the public. The Hunting Act which banned fox hunting and hunting wild mammals with dogs sent outrage across the UK to those who enjoyed the typical British sport. Other laws have also ended up with the public rioting or marching with pressure groups because the new law has affected them so much.