The Working and Processes of Parliament

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‘One of the major unfavorable judgments that can be directed at Parliament is that it does non size up proposed statute law effectively.’ Discuss, bespeaking what processs exist for size uping primary statute law and how effectual they are.

In order to turn to this inquiry the processs that a Bill must go through through in order to go statute law will be described. As each phase is described it will besides be analysed ; measuring the positions of those observers who are critical of the sum of scrutiny primary statute law is subjected to. The essay will travel on to compare the UK system to that exercised in comparable legal powers, reasoning by looking at recent and proposed developments and whether these address these unfavorable judgments: “law devising has changed radically in the last 10 years.” [ 1 ]

The British parliament operates a bi-cameral system, a two-chamber assembly, dwelling of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, with the Queen in Parliament. Within the castle of Westminster, our elected representatives sit in the House of Commons. Since the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949, the House of Commons is doubtless the superior chamber, with the Prime Minister and the bulk of the senior members of the cabinet. This deficiency of separation of powers between the executive and the legislative assembly goes against the rules of good administration discussed by Aristotle, [ 2 ] and developed by Montesquie and John Stuart Mill, [ 3 ] this is discussed subsequently in this essay.

Bills may be introduced in either House, though the more of import Bills will get down in the Commons, before traveling to the Lords for examination.

As the supreme jurisprudence doing organic structure in the UK, the British parliament has the ability to do or undo any jurisprudence as they see fit. To go through a new act of Parliament a Bill must foremost be introduced into one of the Chamberss. Government sections put the bulk of proposed statute law frontward, nevertheless single MP’s patron a little figure of Bills, termed ‘private Members’ Bills’ , in world it is improbable a private Member’s Bill will go jurisprudence, this is due to the partizan nature of Parliament. [ 4 ] Without the support of a major political party, such Bills are about surely doomed to failure. [ 5 ]

In world the legislative procedure is an extra–Parliamentary event. Most of the statute law that is passed has already gone through extended audience programmes, perchance a political run, and recommendations from assorted organic structures such as The Law Commission and Royal Commissions may hold been considered. The high degree of engagement of such un-elected and extra-Parliamentary organic structures in the legislative plan has been criticised [ 6 ] , although it undoubtedly brings expertness to the tabular array that would otherwise be missing.

Bills may be introduced into either the Commons or the Lords. Although by convention ‘Money Bills’ must be introduced into the Commons. The relevant Minister introduces Government and Public Bills. All Bills irrespective of where they get down must travel through the undermentioned phases in both Chamberss.

The first phase is termed the ‘First Reading’ when a transcript of the Bill is presented to the Clerk of the House who reads the rubric out loud on the floor of the House. An order is made for printing, and a day of the month set for the 2nd reading. This first phase is simply a formality, although the Modernisation Committee has suggested the formation of a First Reading Select Committee to size up Bills at this early phase. [ 7 ]

The 2nd phase is termed the ‘Second Reading’ , it is at this phase that the general rules and intents of the Bill are debated. No amendments are allowed at this phase. The argument will usually affect the whole house. This is the first existent chance for Parliament to size up the Bill.

The 3rd phase is the ‘Committee Stage’ , this is where a measure is subjected to severe examination. This most of import function of size uping the inside informations of the Bill clause by clause is done by one of the House’s ‘Standing Committees’ . It is here that backbenchers can construct an expertness in a peculiar country. A typical commission has between 15 and 50 members sitting in proportion to their party’s strength in the Commons, nevertheless for really of import or controversial Bills a Committee of the whole house may sit.

The 4th phase is the ‘Report Stage’ , a study is delivered to the House of the amendments made by the standing commission. These may be accepted or rejected. If a commission of the whole House had considered the Bill there will be no study phase.

The concluding phase a measure goes through earlier continuing to the other House is the ‘Third Reading’ , this usually takes topographic point directly after Report Stage. There are improbable to be any major amendments at this phase. The measure so proceeds to the other House where the procedure is repeated.

If a measure receives the blessing of both Houses, or is capable to the Parliament Acts, it is sent for ‘Royal Assent’ , as a Constitutional Monarchy, the Queen, by convention, must subscribe all Bills. After she does so the Bill becomes an Act.

One of Parliament’s chief functions in this legislative procedure is to maintain a cheque on the power of the executive. This end can be achieved in a figure of ways, and there are a figure of mechanisms that exist in parliament to restrict their power.

It is the constitutional function of the resistance to supply an alternate position to the one being presented by the Government. Indeed this function is so of import that the leader of the Opposition is given an official wage on top of his MP’s wage. It is besides usual for them to go Privy Councillors. Arguments take topographic point after the Queens Speech, The Budget, and at commission phases of the Bill. There are besides three ‘Estimate Days’ and 20 ‘Opposition Days’ , basically this means the Resistance may utilize those yearss to raise affairs of importance, and to seek to abash the authorities. However because this map is so politically partizan it is capable of significant unfavorable judgment: “Scrutiny tends to be extremely politically partizan, aimed merely partially towards bettering the measure and mostly towards pulling attending to failings in the measure and opposing and hassling ministers.” [ 8 ]

A farther cheque is that backbenchers may inquire inquiries of any curate. These can be in composing or orally during argument, or at ‘Prime Minister’s Question Time’ , which lasts for 30 proceedingss on Wednesday afternoons.

A really of import map of modern authorities is to be able to size up the outgo of authoritiess, as all money raised is done so by revenue enhancements. Parliament achieve this through such officers as the Controller & A ; Auditor General, whose undertaking it is to foreground inefficiency and waste.

The legislative procedure is besides scrutinised by ‘parliamentary committees’ . There are three chief types of commissions in the House: Choice Committees ; Standing Committees ; and Committees of the Whole House.

Choice Committees consist of about 15 MP’s, their make-up reflecting party strength in the Commons. They have the power to inquiry, some would state interrogate, persons, Curates and Civil Servants. They can be established to cover many different topical countries. [ 9 ]

Standing Committees are commissions that trade with the commission phases of Bills, discussed above.

Committees of the Whole House are seldom used, they normally sit when there is an of import constitutional Bill before Parliament.

The Modernisation Committee has besides proposed that statute law be capable to further examination after it has been enacted, this has happened albeit in a really limited scene. [ 10 ]

It can be argued that backbenchers, who are MP’s and Lords who do non keep a ministerial station, are the lifeblood of our Parliament. Although it is the authorities of the twenty-four hours who wields the power, it is really, in theory at least, Parliament, which has the concluding say. However the deficiency of separation of powers is apparent if one looks closely at the examination afforded proposed statute law. [ 11 ] The executive, through its Commons bulk and the ‘whipping system’ , normally achieves Commons support, [ 12 ] the present authorities merely late [ 13 ] losing its first Commons ballot since coming to power in 1997, and can efficaciously overrule the will of the Lords through exerting the Parliament Acts, Royal Assent being granted automatically. This deficiency of examination [ 14 ] leads to severely drafted or oppressive statute law and in A and Others v Home Secretary [ 15 ] it fell to the House of Lords, in its judicial function, to declare statute law illegal. This is non a function the Lords take lightly, Lord Hoffman noticing that this was: “one of the most of import instances which the House has had to make up one’s mind in recent years.” [ 16 ]

The UK system of legislative examination is non without its defects, it is necessary in sing these defects to look beyond the UK at the systems adopted in other legal powers. Many states, such as France, America and Australia, have a written fundamental law that inside informations their legislative procedure. Article I of the American Constitution grants all legislative maps of authorities to a Congress divided into two Chamberss, the Senate and the House of Representatives, [ 17 ] this system, with the President as executive, is more in line with the philosophy of the separation of powers. The Gallic fundamental law besides provides for a separation of powers with the executive map mostly being exercised by the Prime Minister, a Presidential assignment by convention from the party with a bulk in the National Assembly, and the legislative map being shared between the National Assembly and Senate. Both the American and Gallic system let for judicial examination of legislative action, by the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court severally, to guarantee the legislator acts constitutionally. Australia is a constitutional monarchy, a federation and a parliamentary democracy and the separation of powers is inexplicit in its fundamental law, the Commonwealth Parliament exercises the legislative map. Australia has a bi-cameral system, with both Houses being elected by a system of relative representation, this system of democracy allows for more examination of the legislative assembly by the electorate. [ 18 ] The Australian legislative assembly is besides bound to move constitutionally.

In visible radiation of the unfavorable judgments outlined above the House of Lords has been dramatically reformed [ 19 ] and the Constitutional Reform Act ( 2005 ) passed, nevertheless it will take some clip before one knows if this constitutes echt reform is simply window dressing.



A and Others v Home Secretary [ 2004 ] UKHL 56


Abolition of the Death Penalty Act ( 1965 )

Abortion Act ( 1967 )

Constitutional Reform Act ( 2005 )

Parliament Act ( 1911 )

Parliament Act ( 1949 )


Aristotle,‘Aristotle Politica ( Oxford Classical Texts ) ’, 1957, Clarendon Press, London

Bradley and Ewing,‘Constitutional and Administrative Law ( 13ThursdayEd. ) ’, 2003, Pearson, Harlow

Jackson and Leopold,‘O. Hood Phillips and Jackson: Constitutional andAdministrative Law ( 8ThursdayEd. ) ’, 2001, Sweet and Maxwell, London

Jowell and Oliver ( Eds ) ,‘The Changing Constitution ( 5ThursdayEd. ) ’, 2000, Oxford University Press, Oxford

McCelland,‘A History of Western Political Thought’, 1996, Routledge, London

Oliver and Drewry ( explosive detection systems ) ,‘The Law and Parliament’, 1998, Butterworths, London

Other Beginnings

Department for Constitutional Affairs,‘House of Lords Reform’, [ on-line ] hypertext transfer protocol: // [ downloaded on 04/12/05 at 0845hrs ]

Hansard Society, ‘Making the Law: Parliament’s Prime Function ( Press Launch ) ’, [ on-line ] hypertext transfer protocol: // [ downloaded on 01/12/2005 at 1100hrs ]

The Guardian

The Mugwump

USInfo.State.Gov,‘Outline of U.S. Government’, [ on-line ] hypertext transfer protocol: // [ downloaded on 04/12/05 at 0850hrs ]

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