The idea for new laws can come from parliament of department ministers. Where ever the idea comes from, it must be introduced to the Cabinet as a whole following approval and drafting by the relevant Cabinet Committee.
A green paper is, essentially, a consulation document. It sets out the idea for the new act and the reasoning behind it. The Minister for the department who the potential law concerns is responsible for the green paper and will be the one who the debate and questions are aimed at. A proposal for a road traffic law will be of the interest of police, the legal profession, monitoring organisations such as the AA or RAC and car manufacturers.All these parties may want their say on the proposal and therefore the Minister must take all of this into account.
A white paper is what comes after the green paper once it has been amended, re-thought or re-drafted as a result of the law commissions report. A white paper is a set of proposals for the bill which is passed to the relevant Cabinet committee and must be approved by the whole cabinet. Once it is approved it is handed to parliamentary draftsmen to be drafted into a Bill.
A bill may start in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords (except finance bills which must start in the commons).
This stage is just a formality to announce the Bill to the starting House. The title of the Bill is read pit and the Bill is printed and given to each member of the House. If the draftsmen has not got the bill by this point then a dummy bill is handed out.
Here is where most if the debating happens in the House. Questions are aimed at the cabinet minister. There is a debate on the larger aspects of the bill rather than the minor details. The second reading is what is most predominantly used in Hansard reports provding it was said by a relevant cabinet minister.
Legislative stages (continued)
This stage allows for the detailed scrutiny of the Bills. The Bills are scrutinised by small groups of MP's ranging from 15 to 50. Members of the committee are chose based on their interest and expertise in the field of a Bill. A separate committee is formed for each individual bill. The committee can scrutinise every detail of the bill and make ammendments in accordance to the debate points brought up in the second reading. For an important bill, it can be possible for a whole to sit as a committee(e.g Financial bills).
After scrutiny the committee will report back to the House and inform the House of any amendment. If there are no amendments then the bill goes to the next stage. Amendments will be voted on (accepted or rejected).
If approved in the report stage the Bill goes on to its third reading. This gives the House a final chance to look at the bill again as a whole, with amendments, and decide whether it shall go further. The bill cannot be changed substantially. If there are no amendments the bill moves forward.
Legislative stages (continued)
The Bill is sent to the other House to go through the same stage process again. Any amendments will have to be sent back to the original House. If there begins to be a 'ping pong' effect (between the Houses) then the House of Commons can send thee Bill for royal assent with out any need for approval of the House of Lords under the Parliaments act 1911 and 1949.
The bill is sent to the Monarch for approval.This is a mere formality as the Monarch has not refused a Bill since 1707. The short title is read to the Monarch and the bill is accpeted. It will come into legislation on midnight of that night.