Web links: Chapter 07

The government’s legislative programme

The legislative programme for each parliamentary session is set out in the Queen’s Speech, which is given by the monarch from the throne in the House of Lords. The 2017 Queen’s speech took place on 21st June 2017. Members of the House of Commons debate the speech over several days, with each day focusing on a specific theme such as the economy. You can watch the 2017 speech here and may then wish to read the debate on the address in the House of Commons immediately afterwards, as well as the later debates on Housing and Social Security (22nd June 2017), Brexit and Foreign Affairs (26th June 2017), Education and Local Services (27th June 2017), Health, Social Care and Security (28th June 2017), Economy and Jobs (29th June 2017).

Drafting of bills and passage through Parliament

Legislation is drafted by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. Their website explains a bit more about the work that they do and has some useful case studies from staff about their jobs.  You can find the text of all bills and the stages they have gone through by using the legislation pages of Parliament’s website.  Here you can choose to look at primary or secondary legislation and there are options to look at bills currently being scrutinised by Parliament as well as bills from previous sections. All bills are listed on here – so even if bills are defeated, all of the debates and relevant documentation such as the text of the bill, amendments and explanatory notes, will still be available.  When a bill has received Royal Assent it becomes an Act and will then be available on the legislation.gov.uk website.

Money and Finance Bills

The budget must pass through Parliament in the form of a Finance Bill. You can view the 2017 Finance Bill and related documents here, as well as the Chancellor’s budget speech in the House of Commons.  Note that the finance bill is scrutinised in committee on the floor of the House as well as in a bill committee (see the first committee sitting here).

Pre-Legislative Scrutiny

The House of Commons library has written an excellent briefing note on pre-legislative scrutiny in the 2015 and 2017 Parliaments, including the Investigatory Powers Bill. Lord Puttnam of Queensgate delivered a lecture on pre-legislative scrutiny in 2012 as part of the UK Parliament’s Open Lecture Series in which he talks about chairing the committees examining the draft Communications Bill and the draft Climate Change Bill.

Reform of the legislative process

There have been several parliamentary inquiries into the legislative process. See for instance the House of Commons Modernisation Committee’s report The Legislative Process, published in 2006. 

The House of Lords Constitution Committee published its report Parliament and the Legislative Processin 2004.  More recently, it carried out a large scale inquiry into the law making process in 2017. Relevant evidence sessions and reports can be found on the inquiry page.

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