Introduction to uk legislation


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  • There are different types of legislation:
    Primary Legislation
    Bills (draft legislation) - Public Bills, Private Bills (restricted to people or places), Hybrid Bills (public Bills that affect the private rights of people or bodies).
    Acts – Public General Acts and Local and Personal Acts (Private)
    Secondary or delegated legislation (also called subsidiary or subordinate legislation)
    S.I.s – general and local
    Orders, Rules, Codes of Practice, etc.
  • Prior to a Bill being made, various research and inquiries may have been conducted by the government and official bodies to see whether a new piece of legislation is needed. This type of material is known generically as pre-legislative material and can consist of:
    Green papers
    White papers
    Law Commission papers
    Public Inquiries
    Royal Commissions
  • Pre-legislative materials are important as they show the original intent behind a piece of legislation. There are various sources to assist in finding this type of info……
    After initial research, the Parliamentary Counsel Office (PCO) will draft a Bill on behalf of the Government. The PCO is instructed by the legal branch of the Government department concerned. They are also responsible for drafting amendments.
    Public Bills relate to matters of public policy. A Public Bill is introduced in either the House of Commons or House of Lords by a member of parliament. If a Bill is introduced by a member of the Government it is known as a Government Bill but if the Bill is introduced by an individual MP, it is known as a Private Members’ Bill (this is not the same as a Private Bill)
  • Can take variable amounts of time for a Bill to pass through this procedure and different techniques can affect it process. But, generally speaking, the passage of a Bill through Parliament is as follows:
    A Bill goes through the same stages in each House:-
    First Reading - formally presented and printed
    Second Reading – Minister proposes Bill and debate on main principles
    Committee – Bill referred to one of four committees where the Bill is scrutinised clause by clause and amendments made. (Committee of the Whole House- for constitutional Bills and parts of the Finance Bill; Standing Committee - most usual procedure; Select Committee [Infrequently used]; Special Standing Committee [Rarely used]
    Report Stage – amendments are debated
    Third Reading an overview of Bill in amended state. No substantive amendments can be made at this stage.
    Referred to the other House for same process.
    Each House needs to agree on amendments. When agreement reached on the text of the Bill, it receives Royal Assent and the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.
    When a new version of a Bill is published it is given a new number.
    Since the 1998-1999 Parliamentary session, Explanatory Notes have been published alongside Bills. ENs are published when the Bill is first introduced and are revised when it moves to the second House and again when it receives Royal Assent. The notes do not form part of the Bill and do not claim to be authoritative. They are intended to be an additional aid to understanding the intent of the Bill.
  • Printed:
    Hansard – verbatim record of parliamentary business. The First Reading of a Bill will be noted in Hansard but no debate takes place at this point. Use Hansard to discover which points were debated during the Second Reading. The Standing Committee debates have their own series within Hansard.
    Weekly Information Bulletin
    Sessional Information Bulletin
    Remember the importance of using the correct version of a Bill.
  • Once an Act receives Royal Assent it may not automatically come in to force. Some Acts will come into force as soon as they receive Royal Assent; other Acts will have the date included in the text of the Act; or enabling legislation may be required to introduce parts or all of the Act.
    Once an Act has received Royal Assent and is published, an Explanatory Note is also produced. Like the Explanatory Notes published with Bills, the aim of the EN is to make the Act of Parliament more accessible to the general public so that they can understand what the Act is trying to achieve.
  • Since 1963 the practice is to cite UK Public Acts in the following form:
    Companies Act 1985 (1985 c 6)
    where c is the abbreviation for chapter. The chapter number of an Act is a sequential number given to Acts as they are made throughout the year, so the 1985 CA was the 6th Act to receive Royal Assent in 1985.
    Chapter can also be abbreviated to cap., ch., or chap. The chapter number for Public Acts is always given in Arabic numerals.
    Prior to 1963 the practice was to cite Acts by their regnal year. For example:
    Debtors Act 1869 (32 & 33 Vict cap 62)
    refers to the 62nd Act made in the parliamentary session during the 32nd and 33rd years of Queen Victoria’s reign. (Black’s Law Dictionary.)
  • It is also important to remember the different conventions when citing Local and Personal Acts. Local Acts are always cited with Roman numerals:
    British Railways (Liverpool Street Station) Act 1983 (cap iv)
    Whilst Personal & Private Acts are cited with italic Roman numerals:
    Hugh Small and Norma Small (Marriage Enabling) Act 1982 (cap 2)
  • Majority of secondary legislation is in the form of statutory instruments. Over 3,500 S.I.s are made annually.
    S.I.s are used to provide the necessary detail that would be considered too complex to include in the body of an Act, for example The Bus Lane Contraventions (Penalty Charges, Adjudication and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2005 no. 2757 deals with the issuing of penalty notices to people that use bus lanes.
    SIs can also be used to amend, update or enforce existing primary legislation.
    Statutory Instruments are usually drafted by the legal office of the Government Department concerned, often following consultations with interested bodies and parties whilst the SI is in draft. They are then "made" in the name of the person (usually a Secretary of State or Minister) authorised by the parent Act. Whether an instrument is subject to parliamentary procedure is determined by the parent Act.
    Some S.I.s are not laid and as such are not subject to any parliamentary procedure and simply become law on the date stated in them.
  • Draft S.I.s are not numbered.
    Once an SI is approved, they are numbered sequentially within a year and are cited by year and number:
    SI 2005 No. 41
    The Licensing Act 2003 (Personal licences) Regulations 2005
  • One of the key points to bear in mind when researching legislation is whether you are using the original version of the text or an amended version.
    This is an important point as an Act may have been amended or repealed since its commencement or a statutory instrument may have been altered.
  • This overview has concentrated on English law but I’d like to finish with a brief look at the impact of devolution on legislation.
    Through the process of devolution certain powers, formally vested in the UK Parliament, have been transferred to new legislative bodies located in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These legislative bodies are responsible for creating primary and/or delegated legislation in a wide variety of areas. However, many matters, such as foreign policy, defence, relations with the EU, taxation, etc, remain with the UK Parliament.
    The level of devolved powers for each country is not identical. Through the provisions outlined in three key pieces of legislation, The Scotland Act 1998, The Government of Wales Act 1998, and The Northern Ireland Act 1998, differing degrees of power were defined for each region.
  • Introduction to uk legislation

    1. 1. Introduction to UK Legislation Bodleian Law Library Last updated November 2010
    2. 2. Session overview  Types of Legislation  The Legislatative process -Bills -Parliamentary process  Sources of Legislation -Unamended and amended - Keeping up to date
    3. 3. Types of legislation  Primary legislation  Bills – Public, Private and Hybrid  Acts – Public General, Local and Personal  Secondary or delegated legislation  Statutory Instruments (S.I.s)  Orders, Codes of Practice, etc
    4. 4. Pre-legislative materials  Before a Bill is introduced research may have already been conducted in the form of:  Green papers  White papers  Law Commission reports and working papers  Royal Commissions  Public Inquiries
    5. 5. Where to find…  information on pre-legislative materials:  Lawtel – Bills, Command Papers and News & Press databases  Internet – check Government websites and the Parliament website  Westlaw
    6. 6. Progress of a Bill  A bill can start in either the Commons or Lords  First Reading : the bill's title is read out in parliament  Second Reading : debate on the general principles of the bill  Committee Stage : the bill is examined clause by clause and amendments discussed  Report Stage : allows for further amendments to be made on the bill  Third Reading : a final opportunity to comment on the amended bill  Once the bill has completed the same procedure in each House the final text of Bill is agreed  Bill receives Royal Assent and becomes an Act of Parliament
    7. 7. Where to find Bills  information on Bills  Parliament website •  Hansard  Weekly Information Bulletin  Sessional Information Digest  LexisNexis Butterworths  Lawtel
    8. 8. Acts  Royal Assent  Act comes in force: • Straightaway • Day to be assigned • Commencement orders
    9. 9. Citing references to…  Acts:  Public General Acts are cited using Arabic numerals, e.g.: • Companies Act 1985 (c 6)  Prior to 1963 Acts cited by regnal year, e.g.: • Debtors Act 1869 (32 & 33 Vict cap 62)  The C or Cap is chapter and is the number given to an act within a given year
    10. 10. Citing references to…  Acts (continued):  Local Acts are cited using Roman numerals, e.g.: • British Railways (Liverpool Street Station) Act 1983 (cap. iv)  Personal & Private Acts are cited using Arabic numerals given in italics, e.g.: • Hugh Small and Norma Small (Marriage Enabling) Act 1982 (cap. 2)
    11. 11. Where to find legislation  Original texts  Queen’s Printer’s copy (hard copy)  Current Law Statutes Annotated (hard copy)  Justis (electronic)  Law Reports Statutes (hard copy)  Lawtel (electronic)  Amended texts  Halsbury’s Statutes (hard copy)  LexisNexis Butterworths (electronic)  Westlaw (electronic)  (free electronic resource)
    12. 12. Secondary legislation  Majority of secondary legislation is in the form of S.I.s  Over 3,500 S.I.s are made each year  S.I.s are used to add detail to an Act  Also used to bring Acts into force (commencement orders)
    13. 13. Citing references to…  S.I.s  Draft S.I.s are not numbered  Once an SI is approved it receives the next sequential number within the year, e.g.: • The Licensing Act 2003 (Personal licences) Regulations 2005 S.I. 2005 No.41
    14. 14. Where to find Statutory Instruments  information on S.I.s:  OPSI website (unamended) •  Halsbury’s Statutory Instruments (amended)  Lexis Library (amended)  Justis (unamended)  Westlaw (amended)
    15. 15. Updating legislation  Important to always check the status of a piece of legislation:  To avoid using out-of-date information  Ensure accuracy
    16. 16. Where to find…  the status of a piece of legislation  Is It In Force?  Lexis Library (Status Snapshot)  Justis  Lawtel  Westlaw Current Law Legislation Citators  Halsbury’s Statutes  Halsbury’s Statutory Instruments
    17. 17. Devolution  Wales • The Government of Wales Act 1998 • National Assembly of Wales –  Scotland • The Scotland Act 1998 • Scottish Parliament –  The Northern Ireland Act 1998 • Northern Ireland Assembly –
    18. 18. Further help? Contact to arrange 1 to 1 training