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 agreed to by the monarch who is in reign. Once implemented an act is law and applies to the UK as a whole or to specific areas of the country. A statute is a written law passed by a legislature on the state or federal level. Statutes set general propositions of law that courts apply to specific situations.
A statute may forbid a certain act, direct a certain act, make a declaration, or set governmental mechanisms to aid society. A private members bill is a proposed law introduced by a member of a legislature who is not acting on behalf of the executive government whereas a government bill is introduced by an individual MP utilising one of three ways: ballot, the ten minute rule or presentation. The Passage of Bills through Parliament:
* First Reading (usually in House of Commons) * Second Reading (in the same house) * Committee Stage * Report Stage * Third Reading * Same procedure in the House of Lords * Royal Assent (a formality)
The process of a bill is very long and can therefore take a long time for a law to be enforced. There are three 'readings' of a Bill in its progress through each House. A Member's request for leave to introduce a Bill appears on the Notice Paper on the next sitting day. On the day it is considered the Member concerned seeks leave which is usually agreed to without a discussion. The Member then presents to the House a copy of the Bill which is then read for the first time. After the first reading in the house the second reading may be moved immediately or be taken into consideration on a future day.
The second reading is the most important stage of a bill as here the principals of the bill are either agreed or rejected. To then move forward for the second reading stage the Minister or private Member in charge of the Bill will rise and move. The Member will then proceed to make their main speech in favour of the Bill. This is the second reading speech. The Member will explain the reasons for introducing the Bill and outline the principles of the Bill and its benefits to society. The house then may agree that the reading of the speech be dispensed with and a copy of it incorporated. Then the leader of the opposition secures the adjournment of the debate.
This will give members time to study the second reading speech about the Bill. The second reading debate is closed when the Mover replies to the debate. It is then put that the bill is read again and submitted to the House by the presiding officer for its decision. If agreed the House of Assembly may proceed directly to the third reading but it could go through a Committee stage first. The Bill is then considered in a committee of the House where the speaker leaves the chair and the Chairman of Committees assumes the role of Presiding Officer, taking the seat between the Clerks.
The purpose of the committee stage is so that the Bill can be looked at in great detail and amendments can be made where considered by the majority of people if necessary. Every clause is considered separately by the Committee and agreed to, amended and agreed to, or rejected. When the Committee has concluded its deliberations, the Chairman reports to the House that the committee has considered the bill and referred to it and agreed to the same amendment. In the Legislative Council the President reports the results of the Committee's deliberations to the Council. Some Bills may be referred to a Select Committee because they make special provision for some group in the community or need more detailed examination.
A Select Committee is able to take evidence and examine witnesses before reporting back to the House on whether a Bill should be further proceeded with or amended. The third reading is also important for the bill because now members can decide whether the Bill agreed to in the Committee stage should be finally approved. There may be a little debate here about the Bill as well. The debate on the third reading of a Bill is more restricted and cannot go beyond what is actually contained in the Bill as it emerged from the Committee stage. Agreement to the third reading completes the passage of the Bill through the House.
When the house has agreed on the Bill it is sent by written message signed by the Presiding Officer to the other House for its concurrence. The Bill again goes through three readings, with a Committee stage between the second and third readings, before being passed. There will then be another debate here where there may be a disagreement on the amendments and the Bill may be laid aside or a conference between five representatives from each House is held and they attempt to settle the dispute. An officer from each House and a Parliamentary Counsel attend the Conference. When the Bill has finally passed both Houses, 'Royal Arms' copies are printed, certified by the Presiding Officer and the Clerk of the House in which the Bill originated, and then presented by that Presiding Officer to the Governor for assent.
The Governor assents to Bills in Executive Council. A bill only becomes an Act of Parliament once the Queen has approved it, and signs it, this then therefore gives the bill royal assent.
Bibliography: http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/statute http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_member's_bill http://uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100913044752AANUS1u Class Notes and Handouts.