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Abstract

Parliament as the supreme law maker plays an intricate role in regards to the scrutiny and approval of the Governments proposed Bills. Despite previously existing procedures, this article discusses at length not only what the Parliament currently does in its current role, but what specific modifications could assist it in way of reform.

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Introduction: Parliaments Role in Law Making

An Act of Parliament by its very definition affects the shape and nature of British society. As an Act of the Supreme Law Making Body, they stipulate what is permissible and, more pervasively, what is not permissible.1 As such they are duly enforced by agencies of the state, and taken over the ways of both state order and compliance of the state, with international bodies it is a member to such as evidence by the Human Rights Act 1998. While contrarily submitted in common terminology as the Law Making Body, the Parliaments actual role in regards to Law Making, is of more of an effecting nature, it is more o f a promulgator than a maker in its actual sense. Generally what has marked Parliament as a legislature is the fact that its assent is required for a measure to become law, that is, an Act of Parliament. Conferring assent, on behalf of a wider community, to measures of public policy that are to have binding applicability within a society is what defines a legislature.2 Post the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the Parliament evolved as a policy influencing rather than policy creating body3, whilst unable to formulate policy of its own, and thereby wrongly termed a maker it is a shaper, that is to say the an amender or rejecter, not through substitution but by effacing the governments proposal, and thereby subjecting it to a process of scrutiny it is also responsible to enforce. This method of scrutiny has been a subject of both political and parliamentary debate, and is also the proposed topic, in order to answer the question of its effectiveness however one must first take note of the process itself. Based on the Rippon Commission, there are six noted stages of legislative process; such however can be classified and objectively followed under the three broader heads of Pre-Legislative Process, Legislative Process and Post Legislative Process.
A. Pre-Legislative Scrutiny

Pre-legislative scrutiny by parliamentary committees was introduced, following a recommendation of the Modernisation Committee in 19974. Its clearest supporter perhaps being

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Parliament and legislative scrutiny: an overview of issues in the legislative process, Lord Norton of Louth
Norton P. General Introduction, in Norton P. (ed) Legislatures, Oxford: Oxford University Press (1990) p. 1. Wiseman H. V. (ed) Parliament and the Executive, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul (1966) p. 5.

House of Commons Modernisation Committee, The Legislative Process, First Report, 1997-98 (HC 190), paragraph 91.

Lord Bach, who on behalf of the Government, in 2009, displayed a clear willingness to rely on this procedure and moved to state: "The fact that this Bill has had the benefit of pre-legislative scrutiny does not, of course, mean that your Lordships will not want to scrutinise it in their usual thorough and forensic manner. I trust, however, that we have reached the stage where that examination can be about the finer details of the Bill rather than its core purpose and basic structure."5 Pre-Legislative Scrutiny stands as evidence of two notable developments, one being the inherent inclusion of reform in the methods of parliamentary scrutiny till date and two being, the publication of Draft Bills, which has not only cleanly removed Parliaments blind-side, of not being able to see the Bill till the moment of presentation, but also curtailed the need for many basic reworking of the Bills in a later stance as Bills now have Parliamentary involvement from a formative stage, which draws forth a clarity of drafting and a clear view on the extent to which it is likely to achieve its intended outcomes.6

B. Legislative Process

Having passed through the Pre-Legislative confinement, a Bill is then inducted to the illustrious role of Legislative Process. Here a Bill finds itself having been introduced to Parliament, go through the established stages in both Houses. Entailing of Parliamentary Stages subject to both Houses the Bill contends with, the First Reading, Second Reading, the Committee Stage, the Report Stage and finally the Third Reading. Here the accorded legislation on the floor of the House in the Lords deals with amendments which can be pursued; amendments in the Lords can be, and most often are taken in at the Third Reading. Here, as the Lords also has the advantage of not being constrained by programming motions or the selection of amendments, they are thereby able to devote the most time to the detailed consideration of Bills.7 Furthermore, it is through this process that, perhaps the most amount of reform may evolve, while already playing the role of a doctor diagnosing bad law and taking note of the detrimental impact of the quantity of legislation being produced by government, as well as the political pressures which shape, often unhelpfully, the attitude of politicians and civil servants to lawmaking8, the process is also deals with and delves into what roles specialist and expert input into the policy development process may play and elucidates how to better employ expert advice as a greater external input into the legislative process.

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HL Deb., 9 December 2009, col. 1086 Report of the Leader's Group on Working Practices - Leader's Group on Working Practices Parliament, Politics and Law Making: Issues and Developments in the Legislative Process, Lord Norton of Louth. Ruth Fox and Matt Korris, Making better law.

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C. Post Legislative Scrutiny

In the words of the Hansard Society, "the current ad hoc approach to post-legislative scrutiny, although valuable for what it may reveal about specific pieces of legislation, is insufficiently embedded into formal procedures in Westminster and Whitehall to truly make an impact"9 The classic issue here, both identified by the RIppon Commission and since is that, having endured the process of Legislative Scrutiny, the Parliament is of the view that the moment a Bill is sent for Royal Assent its job is done. This view contrary to the glaring questions of whether the policies applied are still desirable and/or acceptable, and what problems have subsisted in interpreting, enforcing, administering and complying with the Act.10
1.3 Personal Reflection

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Ruth Fox and Matt Korris, Making better law, p. 152 Ruth Fox and Matt Korris, Making better law.