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Stages of law making in the UK

1945 words (8 pages) Essay in Free Law Essays

02/02/18 Free Law Essays Reference this

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Stages of law making in the UK

This assignment will highlight the stages involved in law making in the United Kingdom. It will also look at the roles played by House of Commons (members of Parliament) and the House of Lords (appointed by the government) in law-making process. The assignment will also consider the impact of delegated legislation on the law making process in the United Kingdom.

Parliament (legislature) is a body with the highest legislative authority in the United Kingdom. [1] It checks and examines the work of government. Parliament also debate and approves new laws proposed by the government. The House of Commons (elected MPs) and the House of Lords together make Parliament. A Bill can only become an Act of parliament when the House of Lords and the MPs both vote to support it. [2] House of Lord power to reject a Bill was limited by the Act of Parliament 1911 and 1949. A Bill can still become a law if rejected by the Lords provided it is re- introduced into the HOL. [3] 

The House of Commons (H.O.L)

Members of Parliament (MPs) or the House of Commons are the people, democratically, elected by the public to represent in the parliament. They are elected every 5 years through general election. An election can be called sooner by the Prime Minister if the need arise. There may also be by-election in a constituency where an MP dies or retires. Mostly, the reigning political party has the majority MPs in the Parliament.

The House of Lords

They consist of hereditary peers, life peers, and the most senior bishop in the Church of England. There used to be the 12 most senior judges sitting in the House of Lords but they are now separated from parliament. They sit as the Supreme Court. [4] 

Introducing an Act of Parliament

Government introduces great majority of Acts of Parliaments. Parliamentary Counsel to treasury first by instructions drafts what should be included in the proposed law and its effects and impacts on the society. The draft is known as a bill. Parliamentary Counsel to treasury is Lawyers in civil service.

Stages in Law making

The stages involved in law making in the English Legal System includes Bill, First reading(Bill is first read out), Second reading, Committee stage, Report stage, third reading, House of Lords and Royal Ascent.


It is the draft made by civil layers instructed by the Government. It just explains the details of the proposed law. There are 3 main types of Bills which are Public Bills, Private Bills and Private Members Bill. All statutes begin as a Bill.

Public Bill

Public Bill will affect the entire country or a larger portion of it. They are prepared by the cabinet to change the laws in the country and preceded by Green Paper. Examples are the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. [5] 

Private Members Bill

Few of such Bills become an Act. They are prepared by backbench MP. They must enter into a ballot to win the right to do so. They then have to persuade the government to allow enough parliamentary time for the bill to go through. Examples of such Bill is the 1967 Abortion Act

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Private Bill

This type of bill are usually proposed by a local authority, public corporation or large public companies

First Reading

In this reading,. The title of the bill and what it includes is read to the House of Commons. Nothing is done at all at this stage

Second Reading

The detailed on the Bill is debated and amended at this stage. MPs then vote on whether the Bill should proceed or not. The whip system is mainly used at this stage to get members support their political party which may always cause the majority is the current government to win.

Committee Stage

This is where the Bill is referred to the House of Commons committee for detailed examination. There may be further amendments made to the bill at this stage if needed.

Report Stage

The committee reports the debates and amendments made back to the House. The Bill is further debated and voted upon by the House.

Third Reading

Bill is re-presented to the House. Short debate may be done and then vote whether it should be accepted or rejected.

House of Lords

The Bill is sent to the House of Lords to go through the 5 stages mentioned above. Amendments are made and then sent back to the House of Commons to consider the amendments.

Royal Ascent

This is the final stage of the process where the monarch has to formally approve the Bill and then becomes an Act of Parliament. This is now formalities under the Royal Ascent Act 1961, the monarch, will not even have the text of the Bill she is assenting to. In 1707, the monarch (Queen Anne) refused to ascent to the Scottish Militia Bill

Delegated Legislation

Delegation [6] means assigning or giving power to others to perform special duty or a specific task. [7] Legislation is set or laws governing a society or a country. The law made by other bodies with the authority of parliament is known as Delegated Legislation. The parent act of parliament known as enabling Act allows parliament to appoint other bodies to make laws. [8] Examples of enabling Act include Access to justice Act 1999 and Criminal Justice Act 2003.

There are three main forms of Delegated Legislation which includes Statutory instrument (laws made by Government Ministers), Bye-Laws (laws made by local authorities, public and nationalized bodies). [9] The central government must approve them. Order in council is made by the Government in time of emergency. The relevant government draft them, Privy Council approves it and then singed by the Queen

The need for delegated legislation

Delegated legislation is a faster way of making laws which saves parliamentary time. Parliament does not need to debate and amend before they are passed. Parliament may also not have the required knowledge on some particular areas, issues which will need which may need technical expertise. For example, many different industries may need expects knowledge on their health and safety measures whiles local knowledge is needed for local parking

Control of delegated legislation

It is important that delegated legislation is controlled because it is mostly made by non- elected bodies, and also many people have the power to make those laws. If it not controlled, then unreasonable law [10] may be pass to make others life very difficult. It is therefore controlled by the Parliament and the courts to make sure power or authority, giving to other bodies, is not misused. Planning laws which may affect the environment may need public enquiry before it is passed. The Enabling Act made by parliament controls, who can make laws, when laws can be made, the type of laws and the limit the people in authority to make delegated legislation can go. [11] 

Parliamentary Sovereignty [12] 

This is the power Parliament has to revoke any delegated legislation at any giving time. Parliament may also pass law on the same subject as delegated legislation with no restrictions

The Court can challenge delegated legislation on the bases of ultra vires. Ultra vires is when the law goes beyond the powers which were granted by the Parliament in the Enabling Act. [13] Enabling Act as already explained is the Act that allows some delegated person or body to make laws. Any delegated legislation found to be Ultra vires is ruled to be void and cannot be effected. [14] 

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Criticism of delegated legislation

Parliament mainly has its majority members from the ruling government which in one way or the other may have effect on the delegated legislation. It may be bias because laws may be passed in favour of the ruling government. It may create political conflict because it undemocratic meaning authority has been pass down to non-elected people making law for the highly democracy society. There is also a higher risk of sub-delegation which means, delegated bodies also appointing others to make laws. Laws made by such people can be called void because the laydown procedure is not followed.


Delegated legislation may have both negative and positive impact on our law making process, society and even on the country as a whole but it is always easier for parliament and courts to review and make corrections. Processes of review may consume time, financial loss because money will be paid to expertise to have it checked. Delegated legislation targets a specific actin a particular area. For example, local councils may know what is happening in their communities and then make better laws to bring back it community to shape.



Statute law sets out the parameters within which individuals and organisation carry out with their activities. [15] It guides the constitution, and settles disputes between individuals and organisations. It also protects the country and individuals from wrong doers. Law is an expression of authority. It gives the state, leaders and courts the power to act to protect the country. Equality in the United Kingdom is protected by the statute law no matter the race, sex, and colour of the individuals.


Acts of parliaments go through other stages before it is presented to the house as a Bill. This process is known as pre-parliamentary procedures which include manifesto, Green paper and white paper.

Manifesto is the promises of political parties which persuade the public to vote for them. Green paper is a proposal of government ministers which is presented for public comments. This explains the intensions and the new plans of the government. Government present the White paper to parliament after the Green Paper. It is a statement of policy. It contains specific reform plans.

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