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Procedure for passing laws in the UK

In the UK, the most common form of legislation is that of Public Bills, which are
introduced by government ministers and change the general law. They can also be
introduced by other members of the...

In the UK, the most common form of legislation is that of Public Bills, which are
introduced by government ministers and change the general law. They can also be
introduced by other members of the Parliament. In this case they are called Private
Members’ Bills.
The procedure of passing a Public Bill can start in either the House of Commons or the
House of Lords. However, Bills involving the introduction of new taxation must be
introduced by a government minister into the House of Commons. Bills of controversial
political nature are also introduced in the Commons.
First reading

The legislative procedure starts with the first reading which is just a formality in both
Houses.
Second reading

Then the Bill must have its second reading (in the case of government Bills, within a
fortnight). In the House of Commons the Bill is presented by a government minister.
Then the views of the Opposition and other parties are heard. Although the Opposition
in the Commons usually votes against it, a Bill progresses almost always to the
Committee stage. There is a convention that Government Bills are not opposed by the
House of Lords at the second reading. However, amendments can be voted on.
Committee stage

When Bills have passed the second reading in the House of Commons, they are referred
to a standing committee for examination. A standing committee consists of from 16 to
20 MPs. Standing committees are chaired by a member of the Chairmen’s Panel. The
Chairman votes only in the event of a tie and according to precedence. New standing
committee members are appointed for each new bill.
However, certain Bills may be referred to the Committee of the whole House, if they fall
into one of the following categories:
 Bills of major constitutional importance, such as those ratifying the European Union
Treaties

 Bills that must be passed very quickly

 Bills which are uncontroversial and their committee stage is expected to be very short.

 Private Members’ Bills which are not expected to be opposed at any stage.

Some Bills, like the annual Financial Bill, can be divided between a standing committee
and the Committee of the whole House. Also, the Armed Forces Bill is always referred to
a select committee, before being re-committed to a standing committee or Committee of
the Whole House. Because the amount of time that a committee can spend on a bill is
limited, not all amendments are debated.
In the House of Lords the procedure of the second reading is similar, however Bills are
usually referred to the Committee of the Whole House. Because there is no time limit,
all amendments tabled may be debated.
Report stage

After the committee stage, the committee that has examined the Bill must report its
decisions to the whole House of Commons within two weeks, so that all members have
the opportunity to propose amendments or to add clauses. The report stage can be quite
lengthy. Bills that were examined by the Committee of the whole House are not
normally debated at the report stage.
Also in the House of Lords the report stage follows a fortnight after the committee stage.
Third reading

At this stage the final draft of the Bill is reviewed. In the House of Commons, the Bill
cannot be amended substantially at the third reading. However, Bills which have their
third reading in the House of Lords can still be amended at this stage.
Having passed through the previous stages, the Bill must be sent to the other House
where the whole procedure is repeated. Bills can still be amended at this stage, and both
Houses must agree on the amendments. If the Houses cannot reach a compromise on
the final drafts, the procedure can be extremely lengthy. Due to time limits, some Bills
are lost.
Generally, the role of the Lords is complementary and their legislative power limited by
the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949. The House of Commons can present a Bill for
Royal Assent event without the assent of the Lords, after one year and in a new session.
Also, the assent of the Lords is not essential, under certain conditions, in the case of
financial Bills.
The Royal Assent

The last stage of the legislative procedure in the UK is the Royal Assent. The Royal
Assent is given by the Queen to the Bill that has completed all the parliamentary stages,
and it is declared to both Houses. It is also listed in the Parliament’s record of official
proceedings. The Royal Assent is a formality and has not been refused since 1707.
Sometimes, Acts of Parliament give government ministers and other authorities the
power to produce delegated or secondary legislation. This legislation, however, is
subject to strict limitations and can only regulate issues of administrative nature. (For
more on secondary legislation see our guideProcedure for passing secondary legislation
in the UK).

The law in moldova


The chapter looks at the technical and procedural aspects of the legislative activity of the
Parliament, and considers the stages that a bill needs to go through until it becomes law.
The author undertakes a thorough description of how the legislative bill is developed, the
legislative initiative and its introduction in the Parliament, the procedures of examination
and adoption of legislative bills in the Parliament, and the one of promulgating the adopted
laws.

In a brief comment on the Moldovan law making process the author notes that while in the
first years after Moldova declared independence the lack of a comprehensive legislative
framework was due to the continuous economic and political transformations, now, 11 years
on since independence and eight years on since the adoption of the Constitution, one can
hardly say that the Moldovan legislative framework is stable, democratic, and well fit for the
current circumstances and existing international standards. One reason for such state of
affairs resides in the fact that the process of development and adoption of legislation still
suffers of gaps and is not yet fully transparent to allow for an open debate by the general
public. The closed nature of the legislative process entails the danger of people loosing faith
in the new regime, while the old regime is irreversibly ruined.

Recently the Parliament adopted a number of changes to its Regulations and to the Law on
Government whereby Parliament and Government bills may be published for public debate.
However, both the decision to publish individual bills and the decision to take account of the
feedback coming from the public on those bills belong exclusively to the legislative and
executive powers which are renown for their reluctance to open up for the citizens.

The government's inability to involve the public in the legislative process rather than the
imperfection of the current legislative framework is held accountable for the low law-abiding
culture in Moldova. Then and only then when the entire society is given the opportunity to
discuss, accept and support the ideas that later become law will laws be duly respected and
yield the expected outcomes in Moldova.