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How Parliament Creates Acts

Bills and Acts of Parliament


As stated in the Charter of Government, the legislative powers rest in the hands of Parliament. In Genovia, a law is born from a Bill and receives its authority from an Act of Parliament. A Bill is a proposal for a new law, or a proposal to change an existing law that is presented for debate before Parliament. Bills are introduced in either the House of Commons or House of Lords for examination, discussion and amendment. When both Houses have agreed on the content of a Bill it is then presented to the reigning monarch for approval (known as Royal Assent). Once Royal Assent is given a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament. An Act of Parliament creates a new law or changes an existing law. An Act is a Bill approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords and formally agreed to by the reigning monarch (known as Royal Assent). Once implemented, an Act is law and applies to Genovia as a whole or to specific areas of the country.

A Proposal for a Bill


In Genovia, Parliament is responsible for creating Acts (laws) through Bills. The process starts with an idea for a new law. A loyal subject, government official, the Prime Minister, the reigning monarch, and/or a Member of the House of Commons or House of Lords may come up with an idea, then present that idea to their respective House of Parliament (i.e. the House of Lords for the monarch and government, and the House of Commons for everyone else) to request it become an Act. A Parliamentarian that is a Member of Parliament (MP) from the House of Commons or a Lord or Lady from the House of Lords will then write a proposal for a Bill. In general, the proposal is nothing more than a formal list of ideas with reasoning behind the Bill. Once the MP or Lord or Lady has a proposal, he or she requests permission by their respective Secretary and Speaker of the House to speak during Morning Introductions to present their proposal to their house. When granted, the Parliamentarian addresses their House and introduces the proposal of the Bill. After the presentation, the Parliamentarian makes a motion to accept the proposal and to proceed in writing a Draft Bill. The motion needs to be seconded by another member of the House for it to be accepted by the House and proceed. If the House accepts the proposal, the Parliamentarian who presented the proposal becomes President of the Drafting Committee to write the proposed Bill, and the Parliamentarian who seconded the motion becomes Vice President. The two members then proceed to fill the committee with other Parliamentarians and begin writing the Bill. The President, Vice President, and committee members sit down and begin writing the Draft Bill, which can take anywhere from a few hours to a few months. Members of the committee

research specific areas and use the information to determine the best ideas for the Bill. Once all members accept a version of the Bill, the members vote to proceed to Introduce the Bill to their House for consideration.

The Passage of a Bill


A Bill can start in the House of Commons or the House of Lords and must be approved in the same form by both Houses before becoming an Act (law). The following graphic shows the process by which a Bill must go through before becoming an Act:

First Reading First Reading is the first stage of a Bills passage through the House of Commons and can take place at any time in a parliamentary session. During the First Reading of a Bill, the short title of the Bill is read out and is followed by an order for the Bill to be printed. All members of the House receive a copy and begin reading it to prepare for Second Reading. Second Reading Second reading is the first opportunity for the Parliamentarians to debate the main principles of the Bill. It usually takes place no sooner than two weekends after first reading. During the Second Reading, the Parliamentarian responsible for the Bill opens the second reading debate. He or she presents the main principles and sections of the Bill. Each party (if the Bill is in the House of Commons) or Lord or Lady (if the Bill is in the House of Lords) gets a chance to present their opinions on the Bill. The debate continues with other Parliamentarians suggesting points that should be included or removed from the Bill. At the end of the debate, the House decides whether the Bill should be given its second reading by voting, meaning it can proceed to the next stage. It is possible for a Bill to have a second reading with no debate - as long as MPs agree to its progress.

The Committee Stage or Revision Stage The Committee stage (in the House of Commons) or Revision Stage (in the House of Lords) is where a detailed examination of the Bill takes place. It usually starts within a couple of weeks of a Bills second reading, although this is not guaranteed. Bills are usually formally timetabled after they have received a second reading. During this stage, the Bill enters into a Committee of the House in the House of Commons (note: the House of Lords does not have a Committee; please see Review by Opposite House below for a detailed explanation) for a line-by-line review, and the committee is able to take evidence from experts and interest groups from outside Parliament. The Chairman of the Committee selects amendments (proposals for change) for discussion and only members of the committee can vote on amendments during committee stage. Every clause in the Bill is agreed to, changed, or removed from the Bill, without debate. There are some Bills that are dealt with by a Committee of the Whole House (which takes place on the floor of the House of Commons), with every MP able to take part. This, however, is usually reserved for extremely significant Bills, such as the removal of a Parliamentarian from office or the dismissal of the Prime Minister. Once all members of the committee are content with their revisions, the committee votes to give it is Formal Debate. After the committee votes to proceed, the revised Bill (with tracked changes) is distributed to the MPs to prepare for the Formal Debate Formal Debate The Formal Debate gives all Parliamentarians an opportunity, on the floor of the House, to consider further amendments (proposals for change) to a Bill which has been examined in committee. There is no set time period between the end of committee stage and the start of the debate. During this stage, all members may speak and vote on their views of the Bill. For lengthy or complex Bills, the debates may be spread over several days. Anyone can suggest amendments to the Bill or new clauses (parts) they think should be added. After the Formal Debate, the Bill returns to the committee or Lord or Lady (see below) so necessary changes can be made. The Speaker of the House plays an important, non-participatory role in this stage. During the Formal Debate, the Speaker acts as a moderator and reserves the right to remove members from the House Floor should they not act in accordance with House Rules. After the Bill returns to the committee or Lord or Lady, the Speaker oversees that no major changes are made or additions added that was not agreed upon by the House during the Formal Debate. If this is the case, then the Bill may proceed to Third Reading, otherwise it must be returned to the House Floor for another Formal Debate and repeat the process. If it proceeds to Third Reading, the Bill is prepared with all changes formalized (the Bill in Third Reading is the final draft with no tracked changes).

Third Reading Third reading is the final chance for the House to debate the Bill. Debate on the Bill is usually short, and limited to what is actually in the Bill, rather than, as at second reading, what might have been included. It is not uncommon at this stage to have certain interest groups or individuals who will be affected by the Bill to share their views to the House, by invitation to the House. Amendments (proposals for change) cannot be made to a Bill at third reading as this stage is more of reserved for final thoughts on whether the Bill should be voted to proceed or not. At the end of the debate, the House votes on whether to approve the third reading of the Bill so it can proceed to the opposing House for First Reading. In order for the vote to be valid, it must receive two-thirds of the majority, or 108 votes. If it can proceed, the Speaker of the House sends it to the other Houses Speaker who then distributes it to the second House to prepare for First Reading. In the House of Lords, the Speaker appoints a Lord or Lady Responsible who will oversee the Bills process through the House introducing it during First Reading and writing revisions during Revision stage; in the house of Commons, the Speaker appoints an MP Responsible who oversees the Bills process, introducing it during First Reading. Review by the Opposite House If the House votes in favor of the Bill and allows it to proceed, the Bill passes to the opposite House from which it originated. At this stage, the Bill goes through the same process that the first House (where it started) went through, from First Reading to Third Reading, with the only exception being the House of Lords does not have a Committee Stage but instead a Revision Stage. The Revision Stage in the House of Lords is almost exactly like the Committee Stage in the House of Commons, only the Revision Stage has one member the Lord or Lady Responsible for the Bill. The Lord or Lady Responsible goes through the Bill line-by-line with the help of his or her clerics , makes any changes the House may require, and writes the Opinion of the House which is a formal opinion of the views of the second house with explanations of any amendments. The second House may suggest changes to the Bill, move to stop the Bill in its entirety, or vote to proceed the Bill to its next stage. Note: the majority of Bills start in the House of Commons because it is easier to draft a Bill in that House. This is done for a specific purpose. The House of Lords exists to represent the interests of the reigning monarch while the House of Commons represents the people. In order to preserve the Balance of Powers, the makeup of the House of Lords makes it so the Acts start with the people in the House of Commons while the House of Lords only reviews the Bill. Consideration of the Amendments When a Bill has passed through Third Reading in both Houses it is returned to the first House (where it started) for the second House's amendments (proposals for change) to be considered. Both Houses must agree on the exact wording of the Bill in order for it to become an Act. There is no set time period between the third reading of a Bill and consideration of any Commons or Lords amendments.

If the Commons makes amendments to the Bill, the Lords must consider them and either agree or disagree to the amendments or make alternative proposals. Alternately, if the Lords disagrees with any Commons amendments, or makes alternative proposals, then the Bill is sent back to the Commons. A Bill may go back and forth between each House (Ping Pong) until both Houses reach agreement. Included with each return is the Opinion of the House, a formal explanation of the amendments, written by either the Lord or Lady Responsible or the Chairman of the Committee. The House may, at times, request the Lord or Lady Responsible or Chairman to visit the opposite House to answer questions about the amendments. Once the Commons and Lords agree on the final version of the Bill, it can proceed to Royal Assent and become an Act of Parliament (the proposals of the Bill now become law). In exceptional cases, when the two Houses do not reach agreement, the Bill falls. Royal Assent When a Bill has completed all its parliamentary stages in both Houses, it must have Royal Assent before it can become an Act of Parliament (law). Royal Assent is the Monarch's agreement to make the Bill into an Act and is a formality. There is no set time period between the consideration of amendments to the Bill and Royal Assent it can even be a matter of minutes after Ping Pong is complete. Since the Monarch has the power to officiate law, Parliament sends the formal Bill to the Royal Palace. The Monarch may either grant Royal Consent or deny Royal Consent, but it is only denied on the rarest of occasions. This is because the House of Lords would have already dealt with any issues that may have arisen from the Bill. When the Monarch grants Royal Assent, he or she signs the Bill, the Ceremonial Secretariat stamps the Bill with the Royal Seal of Genovia, and the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament and an official law of Genovia. The Bill can only officially become an Act of Parliament if it contains the signature both Speakers of the House of Commons and House of Lords, and contains the signature of HM the Queen and the Royal Seal. When Royal Assent has been given to a Bill, the announcement is usually made in both Houses by the Lord Speaker in the Lords and the Speaker in the Commons. At prorogation (the formal end to a parliamentary year), the House of Lords summons MPs to the Lords Chamber to hear the Monarch announce Royal Assent for each Bill.

The Act of Parliament Takes Affect


After Royal Assent the legislation within the Bill may commence immediately, after a set period or only after a commencement order by a Government minister. A commencement order is designed to bring into force the whole or part of an Act of Parliament at a date later than the date of the Royal Assent. If there is no commencement order, the Act will come into force from midnight at the start of the day of the Royal Assent. The practical implementation of an Act is the responsibility of the appropriate government department, not Parliament, and is interpreted by the Courts of Justice.