Making sense of legislation

62137The legislative process is not necessarily that well understood outside Parliament and, indeed, not always that well understood by many within Parliament.  When the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was going through Parliament, there was a tendency to assume that procedure in the Lords was the same as in the Commons.  Though Bills have to go through the same stages in each House, procedures differ.  This is especially the case with Third Readings.  I have done a post on Lords of the Blog explaining the differences.

There is also much misunderstanding as to what happens when a Bill receives Royal Assent.  The fact that it has became an Act of Parliament does not mean that its provisions take effect immediately.  Many do not take effect until a minister makes a commencement order. Some, indeed a good number, are never brought into effect at all.  Again, I have done a post on Lords of the Blog.  The use of commencement orders causes confusion.  I am minded to seek a short debate on the issue.  There is a case for restricting the use of commencement orders or providing a ‘sunset clause’, stipulating a time within which provisions of an Act must take effect. 

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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One Response to Making sense of legislation

  1. silvia says:

    Interesting post – thank you. I did try to make sense of the various stages when following the SSM Bill by checking parliament.uk. Their explanation is useful for the basics but a bit over-simplified and didn’t help much to really understand how it works. I just assumed people are taught the details at school (I was born/went to school in Italy so I attributed my ignorance of UK law to that) – is that the case? I have just passed my Life in the UK test to get British citizenship and the booklet didn’t cover the various stages either 😦

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