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The law-making process in England and Wales
The law-making process in England and Wales

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6.1 How statute law is made

Legislation is proposed, presented and made in the Westminster Parliament. As outlined earlier, the Westminster Parliament is made up of two chambers (Houses) and the monarch. Proposed legislation is known as a Bill, which is also referred to as draft legislation and must be debated by both Houses through a set of stages that are referred to as:

  1. First reading
  2. Second reading
  3. Committee stage
  4. Report stage
  5. Third reading
  6. Royal Assent.

This process takes places in both Houses and if the Bill starts in the House of Commons it passes to the House of Lords once it has completed all its stages. In the House of Lords it then goes through the same stages from first to third reading. It is then passed back to the House of Commons with any comments or suggested amendments. This latter stage is known by the term ‘ping pong’ as the Bill goes back and forth between the two Houses.

Before considering each of these stages, take a look at the following diagram, which tries to capture all the possible stages that take place before a proposed piece of legislation becomes a Bill and eventually an Act of Parliament. Consulting the diagram will help you to visualise the process when you read the next section of this course.

Described image
Figure 5 How an idea becomes law