Parliament and its Influences

Explain, with the use of appropriate examples, how MPs may be made aware of public opinion on the issues involved in a particular piece of proposed legislation. Members of the public are not allowed to sit in Parliament, and therefore their opinions cannot be voiced on particular pieces of legislation, which are going to affect them in some way. It is through pressure groups that the voice of the people can be heard, and make MPs aware of their views and opinions.

There are many pressure groups about today, and they all have different aims and opinions. For example, there is a pressure group called Liberty, and its aim is to protect the civil liberties and to protect human rights. Liberty at are present campaigning against the proposal for the Criminal Justice Bill. This Bill proposes the removal of trial by jury in serious and complicated cases. It ill also allow defendants to choose fore trial by judge alone without a jury. They are also proposing to remove the bar on the Double Jeopardy Law.

Not only have the pressure groups have to have strong feelings about a piece of legislation, they must also have evidence that backs up their arguments. Liberty are campaigning against the proposal for the Criminal Justice Bill because they think that trial by jury is a fair system and that the Criminal Justice Bill is patronising to jury members, implying that juries are unable to follow lengthy or complex cases. Also, decisions made by Judges may not have the same degree of public confidence as juries do.

The Double Jeopardy rule means that you couldn't be convicted of the same offence twice. However, if this rule is banned, then any not-guilty verdicts are only conditional. For example, a murderer released as not guilty may always be suspected as they can be re-brought back to the court with new evidence. Police may make less effort in their first attempt to convict as they can try again. Also, media coverage can cause jury members to be bias. Another piece of legislation that Liberty opposes to is the Terrorism Act.

This Act was made after the September 11th Terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York to stop terrorists striking again. This means that anyone suspected of being a terrorist can be detained without a trial or being charged. Liberty feels that this Act is unfair and it goes against the Human Rights Convention Protection against arbitrary imprisonment. This Act will invade privacy and place restrictions on innocent through ID cards that every person will need to carry with them, and also telephone calls and e-mails will be monitored, invading privacy.

This Act treats all citizens as suspects and does away with the idea 'innocent until proven guilty'. There are other measures which could be taken to make the nation safer, such as a better resourced police and security and focused intelligence forces, but instead the government impose an unjustified law which takes away the idea of freedom. To get their views and opinions heard, Liberty runs many events and courses throughout the year, raging from their Annual General Meeting and Annual Conference to their expert legal training courses to the Human Rights Awards.

Liberty also has their own council which debate issues that need to be addressed. (b) Describe the process by which the UK Parliament creates statutes An Act of Parliament must pass through a series of stages before it can come into force. First, a Bill is introduced into Parliament during the First Reading. This is just a way of letting members know that a Bill is coming up for discussion, and then a date is set for the second reading. In the Second Reading the Minister in charge explains the main purpose of the Bill.

After the second reading, the Bill is then examined by a small committee in the Committee Stage. It is in this stage that members are allowed to suggest changes or amendments to the Bill. In the Report Stage, the committee go back into the House of Commons, and further changes can be suggested by MPs. Finally, the Bill is examined again in the Third Reading. The members can then look at the Bill again with the amendments and decide whether they want to go any further with it; the Bill can either be accepted or rejected no changes can be made.

Once the Bill has passed through this stage, it can be taken into the House of Lords, where it passes though the same stages again, but being examined my Lords instead of MPs. The Bill is introduced into the House of Lords by a minister in the First Reading. The purpose of the Bill is the explained in the Second Reading. In the Committee Stage, usually the whole house examines the Bill together, and any Lord interested in the Bill can contribute. The Lords go through the Bill in detail, and can either agree to the Bill or change it.

In the Report Stage, held about two weeks later, the Lords are given another chance to look over the Bill again, and make amendments to it. The Bill is then examined again in the Third Reading, and any changes can be made to it if necessary. This is the last stage of the Bill before it goes to the Queen for the Royal Assent. In the Royal Assent, the Queen usually signs a letters patent which allows the speaker of the two houses to announce that the Queen has given her assent. Once a Bill has received a Royal Assent, it can become an Act or Parliament, although it usually takes several months to complete all stages of Parliament.