Legislative process

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In general, the creation of a new Statute follows a procedure similar to the following.

  • A Bill is formulated (see: Formulation of bills), usually by the Government, perhaps after a period of consulation.
  • The Bill has its First reading, usually in the House of commons; this is mostly a formality.
  • The Bill has its Second reading, which is a debate and may be followed by a Division.
  • In the Committee stage the Bill is discussed in detail, and ammendments may be made.
  • The findings of the committee stage are debated in the Report stage, in which further ammendments may be offered and voted upon.
  • The ammendended Bill has its Third reading, which is often a formality.

If the Bill was introduced in the Commons, it now moves on the House of lords which follows essentially the same procedure. In the Lords the 'committee stage' is usually held on the floor of the House rather than in committee. If the Lords ammends the Bill, these ammendments are debated again by the Commons, which may accept or reject them. The Bill then passes back to the Lords for reconsideration. This process can, in principle, continue until either the Lords accept the Bill, or the Government invokes the Parliament act (1949) to overrule the Lords. In practice, the Lords usually accept the Bill after it is submitted the second time.

A 'Money bill' introduced in the Commons does not pass to the Lords.

When the Bill has satisfied the Commons and -- if necessary -- the Lords, it is passed to Buckingham Palace for the (purely formal) Royal assent.