1. 1 or 2 commissioners produce a detailed working paper on how the law could be changed (each commissioner has between 20 ands 30 staff working for him) they then report back to the whole committee of 5 who then agree on the document. It is then printed and about 1500 copies are made. 2. 6 months to 2 year after the working paper is published the commission produces a draft report and a draft bill. This draft bill is their suggestion of what could be submitted to parliament to ultimately become statutory law. 3. The report and draft bill is then submitted to the Lord Chancellor who then passes it onto parliament.
The effectiveness of law commission reports In the early days of the law commission, parliament appeared to accept most of the recommendations put forward. The first 20 reports had become law within 2 years. The overall success rate in the 1960's was around 85%. By the 1970's it was around 70%, and by the 1980's it was less than 50%. By the early 1990's the role of the law commission had dramatically declined. It produced 36 reports none of which parliament had acted upon. In 1985 the law commission published its most dramatic reform proposals.
The draft Criminal Code suggested how all criminal offences could be brought under a single piece of legislation. Although the draft Criminal Code was well received by the judiciary and the legal academics it appeared to be far too radical for parliament. Since 1985 the law commission has limited itself to investigations into small specific areas of law. The Royal Commission These appear to be more popular these days and consist of a committee set up by parliament to investigate a particular legal problem. The commission is often set up following particular events.
The reports of the commission are often named after the chairman. E. g. the royal Commission under Woolf resulted in changes in the civil justice system which introduced the various tracks to speed up the process. Also Royal Commission reports frequently lead to legislation E. g. the 1999 Access to Justice Act which introduced the Legal Services Commission Types of Parliamentary legislation In the majority of cases an act of parliament is first introduced into the HOC although it is possible for it to start in the HOL first before going through the HOC. Most legislation is introduced as a public bill.
This is introduced by the government of the day and is usually the work of a particular department. The cabinet which is made up of the government's top minister's normally formulate government policy. In addition to the public bill a small number of bills are introduced as private members bills. Once they become law these bills have exactly the same force as a standard public bill. In each parliamentary session a small number of MP's are randomly selected to introduce a private members bill. When selected these MP's become the target of literally hundreds of pressure and interest groups.
These groups suggest ways in which the law can be changed in favour of their views. Private members find these pressure groups extremely useful as the private member does not get the resources (E. g. researchers, legal advice etc… ) of his parliamentary party. E. g. when a private member introduces a bill to ban fox hunting he would have been approached by pressure groups such as RSPCA, Animal rights campaigners (anti blood sport league), Crufts, national union of farmers, countryside commission etc… In the majority of cases private members bills which don't get parliamentary support rarely become law.
However, some bills if not receiving government support don't face government opposition. These bills are often on subjects too controversial for a single party to be associated with. These bills have a better chance of becoming law E. g. Abolition of death penalty act 1965 Abortion Act 1967 Sexual Offences Act 1967 – Legalised homosexuality Divorce reform Act 1969 – Eased rules on divorce The physical process in the creation of a statute Preliminary stage 1. Green Paper This is a very early stage of consultation and encourages politicians to discuss possible ways in which the law can develop. 2. White Paper
This sets out the governments intentions on how they will proceed with the issue 3. The Queen's Speech States that the bill will be introduced in the next parliamentary session The process of a bill becoming law Most bills; public and private members bills are introduced first into the HOC although the HOL occasionally is the starting point. 1. First Reading This is to introduce it to the house. There is no debate/vote. It is just read out. 2. Second Reading Formal debate on the whole bill. This can be a long time. Most private members bills run out of time at this stage. A vote is also taken. 3. Committee stage
This is a mini version of the HOC. The committee is in the exact same ratio as HOC but only includes 30-50 members. The committee goes through the bill line by line and makes amendments as necessary. These amendments may be legal and political the committee may make amendments under pressure from pressure groups, E. g. Various churches 4. Report Stage The Committee reports back on each amendment made on the bill. Each amendment can be accepted or ejected. The commons occasionally send the bill back to the committee for further amendments. 5. Third Reading By this stage the process is normally a formality.
There is a brief debate and a final vote. However, the opposition opposing the amendments can force a vote on each amendment made to 'waste' time and force the bill to run out of time. The next Stage The bill is now sent to the HOL which performs the exact same process as the HOC. The HOC then returns the bill to the commons with amendments. If the amendments are accepted the bill proceeds to Royal Ascent. After Royal Ascent the act becomes law on a pre-determined date. Depending on the type of legislation the date can be anything from a few weeks to over a year form the Royal Ascent.