Okay so we’re not talking about the kind of bill you get when you leave a restaurant – here we’re focusing on the implementation of new laws.
A Bill is a proposal for a new law, or a proposal to change an existing law that is presented for debate before Parliament.
Bills are introduced in either the House of Commons or House of Lords for examination, discussion and amendment.
When both Houses have agreed on the content of a Bill it is then presented to the reigning monarch for approval (known as Royal Assent).
Once Royal Assent is given a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament and is law.
Different types of Bills can be introduced by:
- The government
- Individual MPs or Lords
- Private individuals or organisations
There are three different types of Bill: Public, Private and Hybrid Bills. There is also another kind of Public Bill called Private Members’ Bills.
Public Bill Committees debate and consider amendments to a Bill. The Committee considers each Bill clause by clause. Under the post-2006 House of Commons procedure, Public Bill Committees may take a limited amount of evidence on certain Bills. Their make-up is in line with the proportion of MPs from each party in the Commons.
Fiscal Bills are Bills involving government spending. By convention the Lords do not oppose government spending Bills. Most notably this applies to the annual budget delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Queen Anne was the last Monarch to refuse Royal Assent for a Bill in 1708. This was over the Scottish Militia Bill and was on the advice of her ministers.
The Blair government suffered four defeats in 10 years, all over issues to do with civil liberties. Two of the defeats were over the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill.