Parliament is the highest legislative, judicial andexecutive authority in Britain, consisting of the House of Commons, whichexercises effective power and the House of Lords. The House of Commons has sixmain functions that they must carry out. There are sixmain functions; Legislative, Deliberative, Scrutiny, Recruitment,Legitimation and Representation.
The legislature is a deliberativebody of persons, usually elective, who are empowered to make, change, or repealthe laws of a country or state; the branch of government having the power to make laws, as distinguishedfrom the executive and judicial branches of government. The House of Commons must fulfil its legislativefunction. This is the means by with parliament passesthe government’s legislation. Parliament is almost the onlysource of legislation. When a party wins the general election, a governmentis formed consisting of various parties. This government thenmakes laws that become acts of parliament, the legislation thus havingbeen passed by parliament. Most bills that are passedby parliament are government bills, however, some bills that arepassed through parliament are private members bills, for example, the abolitionof hanging in 1967 by Sydney Silverman.
Unfortunately, bills through parliamentcan take a lot of time to become legislation. This is because there aremany stages which the bill must go through which includes the House of Lordsstage by which the bill may be rejected or amended (this may only occur threetimes). The final stage in the Royal Ascent is the process bywhich the queen signs the bill by convention. The Act of Parliament hasnow gone into the statute book and must now be obeyed by all citizensof the UK. Private Bills are introduced by individual privatemembers of the House or backbenchers. These can be done by ballot or by the ten-minuterule.
These normallyonly affect certain private interests and can be introduced by MPs,usually on behalf of a company. These are not usuallymatters of public policy but are usually for matters such as road building. Privatebills are commonly promoted by organisations such as local authorities orprivate companies.
These types of bills usually only apply to specific groups orindividuals rather than the general public. However privatebills, are more advantageous when there are specific parties involved. Anindividual can initiate a court action to protect rights imparted by privatebills, which is not necessarily possible with public laws.
Private laws havetheir place in providing individuals with the ability to protect theirstatutory rights, but the same protection is not extended to public laws. Most bills areunsuccessful due to a lack of time, lack of Member interest and turnout andgovernment bills taking precedence. Delegated legislation, alsocalled secondary legislation, is law made by a person or group of people thatare given executive authority by the primary legislation. It is law madewithout being heard or voted upon by the general population. This type of lawexists in the United Kingdom and Australia, and there are advantages anddisadvantages to this form of legislation. Delegated legislation saves a lot oftime in Parliament because it gives the members a chance to create rapid changeto small items. Sometimes only minor changes need to be changed to existinglegislation, such as further clarification or fixing a typo, and delegatedlegislation makes minor changes simple.
Delegated legislation makespassing a new and necessary law more quickly than traditional methods. In somecases, Parliament will not have the time to accurately develop of piece oflegislation, and a quick creation and implementation is required for the safetyof a nation. For example, The Prevention of Terrorism Act was created as adelegation legislation in the U.K. and this law made it possible to add newprohibited groups to the Terrorism Act. Delegated legislation also hasdisadvantages. It implies that Parliament does not have enough time to properlyreview and scrutinise a new piece of legislation and is only approving thingsto move on with their workload.
The sheer volume of delegated legislation isalso a concern because laws can get passed without anyone paying much closeattention. There is a huge lack of publicity with all delegatedlegislation. Citizens are simply not told new laws, to the point where somelawyers are not aware of the new laws either. This goes back to the volume ofdelegated legislation that passes the desks of civil servants and otherunelected officials. The approval of delegated legislation often falls onthe desk of unelected civil servants that are appointed by people involved withprimary legislation in Parliament. Parliament members give unelected civilservants a great amount of power to pass laws on their behalf, and they do notneed to disclose all the details of delegated legislation. There are clear advantages, such as saving time, and disadvantages, such aslegality and potential abuse of the delegated legislative system. Members ofthe British Parliament argue that it is a necessary evil to have delegatedlegislation in order to keep Parliament moving and solving the most pressingproblems.
Hybrid bills may be introduced by the Government orby a backbencher. These bills are introduced only rarely, the last occasionbeing the Crossrail Bill introduced in 2004.The changes to the law proposed by a Hybrid Bill would affect the general public but would also have asignificant impact for specific individuals or groups. The Bill passed concerning theconstruction of the Channel Tunnel was an example of a Hybrid Bill.
Hybrid bills oftenpropose works of national importance but in a specific area of the UK. ThePublic Bill office decide whether a Bill falls into the Hybrid category. Boththe Commons and the Lords debate these bills and they go through a longer parliamentaryprocess than public bills. The procedures followed inParliament in considering hybrid bills incorporate aspects of both public billand private bill procedures. Promoters of hybrid bills do not need to prove theneed for their bill (promoters of private bills do). Between a hybridbill’s introduction and Second Reading, time is provided for members of thepublic to comment on the environmental statement published with the Bill. Following Second Reading, hybrid bills are committed to a select committee toallow those affected by the Bill to petition against aspects of the Bill towhich they object.
After the select committee has reported, a hybrid billis considered in Public Bill Committee, on Report and debated at Third Reading,like a public bill. The same stages, including petitioning, are thenrepeated in the House of Lords. Due to the large amount of time it takes to pass bills the House ofCommons does not fulfil its legislative function effectively. Aswell as this, the leading party will always have the majority inparliament, meaning it will almost always be able to push through its legislation,except for our current situation where the Conservative Party is in coalitionwith the DUP, meaning that there is sometimes conflict in agreeing onlegislation.
Therefore, bills which are passed are not necessarily good pieces of legislation.