chapter 3: law (3.3.4 the parliamentary process (Committee Stage (A…
chapter 3: law
3.3.4 the parliamentary process
In order to become an act of parliament the bill will usually have to be passed by both Houses of Parliament, in each house there is a long and complicated process it will either start in the House of Commons or the House of Lords except finance bills.
This is a formal procedure where the name of the bill is read out, no discussion or vote takes place.
This is the main debate on the whole bill in which the MPs debate the principles behind the bill the debate usually focuses on the principles rather then the smaller details. at the end a vote is taken. if all members are in agreement then it moves on.
A detailed examination of the bill is undertaken by a committee of between 16-50 MPs.
Usually done by a standing committee which is a committee chosen specifically for that bill, in that committee the members are represented proportionally to the number of seats they have in the House of Commons.
Amendments to various clauses in the bill may have been may have been voted on and passed so this report stage is whee the committee reports back to the house on those amendments.
If no amendments thee will be no report stage and get moved onto the third reading stage.
This is the final vote on the bill a bill that has passed all the other stages is not very likely to fail at this stage.
In the House of Commons there will only be an actual further debate on the bill as a whole if at least 6 MPs request it.
House of Lords
If the Commons do not acceot the Lords ammendments they then send those ammendments back to the Lords this can go on for a long time and is referred to as ping pong.
If the bill started in the House of Commons it will now get passed on to the House of Lords where it goes through the same five stages if the House of Lords makes ammendments to the bill then it will go back to the House of Commons for them to consider those amendments.
Final stage where the Monarch formally gives approval to the bill and it then becomes an act of parliament.
This is now a formality and under The Royal Ascent Act 1967 the monarch will not even have the text of the bill of which they are ascending they will only have the small title.
3.3.7 Advantages of Law making in Parliament
The main advantage of parliamentary made law is that it is made by our elected representatives this means it is democratic, as there is a general election every 5 years the public can vote out any government if they have not performed how the public expected.
Another advantage is that acts of parliament can reform whole areas or law in one act.
Example: Criminal Law, The Fraud Act 2006 which abolished all the old offences of deception and fraud and created a newer and simpler sturcture of offences.
Acts of parliament can also set broad policies and can give the power to others to give detailed regulations this is known as deligated legislation, this is an advatage because the general structure is laid down by parliament.
As it takes a long time to create the law it means that the new law will be throughly discussed.
Law made by parliament is also certain as it cannot be challenged under the Doctrine of Parliamentary Supremacy.
3.4 The Influences on Parliament
3.4.1 Political Influence
Political parites make a list of reforms that they would carry out if they were elected this is called the partys manifesto.
In the Queens speech the laws for the next year that will be put before parliament.
State opening of parliament.
Each political party has its proposals for reform ready.
Government has a majority so every law that is proposed is passed so it is more efficient.
They may repeal some laws.
Changes in the law can be costly and open to criticism.
Where the government has a small majority it may restrict what laws they can get passed in parliament.
3.4.2 Public Opinion/Media
Where there is a strong public opinion about a change to the law the government may bow to such opinion.
Media is the ways in which information is supplied to the public.
Large role in bringing the public's opinion to the governments attention.
Some peoples public opinion will be affected by specific events and these may also play a role in formulating the law.
Having a free press that are able to criticise government policy or bring any other issue to the attention of the government.
The government may respond too quickly to high profile incidents (a knee-jerk reaction) can lead to law being made too quickly and being poorly drafted.
In some cases it can be said that the press manipulate the news and create public opinion.
3.4.3 Pressure Groups
These are groups that have a particular interest they try to bring matters they are intrested in to the attention of the general public and the government.
Exist to represent the interest of a particular group of people often represent work groups or professions.
They exsist to promote a particular cause there are many different types of cause pressure groups such as Greenpeace.
May make the government change the law on certain occasions.
This was seen in 2000 when the government finally agreed to reduce the age of consent for homosexual acts in private to 16.
3.4.4 Law Reform Bodies
Permanent panel of legal experts.
Recommend which laws should be changed.
Areas of law are researched by legal experts.
The law commission consults before finalising its proposals.
Whole areas of law can be considered not just isolated issues.
Enacting the law on an area in one act such as The Ford Act 2006 makes the law easier find and understand.
The government doesn't always implement the reforms it suggests.
Individual MPs being influenced by people in the lobby inside the House of Commons.
Private member trying to do a bill people make sure they choose one that would be sympathetic to that law.
A wide range of issues are drawn to the attention of the government as there are so many pressure groups.
It can be argued that pressure groups are seeking to impose their ideas even when the majority of the public do not support their views.
Two pressure groups have conflicting interests and want opposing things.
3.3.3 The Role of the House of Lords
The House of Lords acts as a check on The House of Commons all bills go through the House of Lords and they can vote against proposed changes to the law.
In some cases this may alert the House of Commons to a problem with the proposal and it will be dropped or amended.
However the power of the House of Lords is limited due to the parliament act 1911 and 1949.
These allow a bill to become law even if the House of Lords reject it provided that the bill is reintroduced into the House of Commons in the next session of Parliament and passes through all of the stages again there so the House of Lords can only delay a law by up-to one year.
Only happened 4 times.
War Crimes Act 1991
European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999
The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000
The Hunting Act 2004
Refine and add to the law rather then oppose the will of the democratically House of Commons.
3.3.8 Disadvantages of law making in Parliament
Parliament does not always have time to deal with all the reforms that are proposed.
Law of Contract
Acts of parliament are often very long and complex this can make them difficult to understand in fact many of the cases that go to the supreme court on appeals are about what the words in an act of parliament mean.
You may have to consult two or more acts to find out exactly what the law is.
3.5.2 Limitations on Parliamentary Supremacy
The affect of the human rights act 1998
This states that all acts of parliament have to be compatible with the european convention on human rights, it is possible to challenge an act on the grounds that it doesn not comply with the convention.
Under S4 of the human rights act the courts have the power to declare an act incompatible with the convention.
However a declaration of incompatibility does not mean that the government has to change the law.
If parliament wishes it can pass a new act which contravenes the european convention on human rights.
The Scotland Act 1998 and The Wales Act 1998 have devolved (handed down) certain powers to the scottish parliament and the welsh parliament as a result they can make laws on some matters for their own countries without parliaments approval.
This means that supremacy has been lost in these areas.
A upcoming parliament could repeal these acts but it seems unlikely as such a move would be very inpopular and would lose support for any political party that proposed it.
In 1973 Britain became a member of the European Union, in 2016 the british people voted in a referendum to leave the European Union.
While the UK is part of the EU there are limitations on parliamentary supremacy.
EU law takes priority over British law this was shown by the merchant shipping act 1998 which set down rules for who could own or manage fishing boats registered in Britan.
3.3.2 The Role of The House of Commons
Most bills are introduced into the House of Commons first as they are elected, if the house of commons votes against a bill then that is the end of the bill.
During the course of a bill through the House of Commons there will be debates on issues behind the law as well as on the specific details on the bill.
3.5 The Doctrine of Parliamentary Supremacy
3.5.1 Definition of parliamentary supremacy
Definition is Professor Dicey's guidelines.
Parliament can legislate on any subject matter.
this means therre is no random act of power from the state
No parliament can be bound by any previous parliament nor can a parliament pass any act that will bind a later parliament.
Equality before the law meaning there is no discrimintion towards anyone and that they are trialed fairley and the same as everyone else.
No other body has the right to override or set aside an act of parliament.
Every law that is made by the courts is the most important hoever parliament is supreme.