How A Bill Is Passed

How A Bill Is Passed

How a Bill Becomes an Act

The most important function of Parliament is the making of laws for the governing of the country. The procedure in initiating legislation is by introducing the intended legislation into Parliament in a draft form called a Bill.

There are Public Bills, Private Member Bills, and Private Bills.

There are money bills and other bills. These can originate in either the House of Assembly or in the Senate. Money Bills are those calling for the expenditure of public funds and can only originate in the House of Assembly.

Public Bill
A bill seeking to implement a measure of public policy affecting the whole of the community and is introduced upon the Motion of a Member of the Government.

Private Members’ Bills
These bills are introduced with the leave of a House of Parliament by a member who is not a minister.

Private Bills
These bills are introduced by petition, from the persons or organization who are to benefit from its passage. Such bills confer special powers upon companies, corporations, churches and private persons, and are not of general public concern.


Forms of Bills

A Bill may be divided in to parts and the parts into clauses and sub-clauses. Upon becoming an Act, these become known as sections and subsections respectively. Sometimes schedules are attached. Schedules are referred to by numbers e.g. “4” rather than “fourth”.

Procedure of a Bill

Three Readings in each House of Parliament is required before any bill is passed and submitted for Assent by the Governor-General.

First Reading
A Bill is introduced by a Minister of Government, or by a Private Member, who must first obtain permission by means of a motion seeking leave to do so. At this stage, reading of the title of the Bill is all that is done. An interval of less than four days must elapse between the First and Second Readings of a Bill, unless the House, on motion made, agree to proceed with the bill at an earlier date or forthwith.

Second Reading
The second reading provides an opportunity for debate on the principles of the Bill. That stage is recognized to be the most important in a Bill’s journey through Parliament, for it is during such time that the Bill’s main principles are stated, attacked and vindicated.

On being given its Second Reading, after the debate (if any), a Bill stands committed to a committee either Select or Whole House. These committees are set up to consider the details of Bills. Each clause must be put separately to the committee and accepted, amended or rejected with or without debate. If a Bill is referred to a Select Committee, that body might be authorized by the House to take evidence.

Report Stage
After the committee has concluded its deliberations, its conclusion is reported to the House and the Bill is then ready for Third Reading. Should the Report come from a Select Committee, its findings have to be reformed to a committee of the Whole House before further action is taken.

Third Reading
At this stage, only verbal or drafting amendments are allowed. Following this, a copy endorsed by the Speaker is sent to the Senate, together with a message informing the Senate that the bill has been passed by the House and desires the Senate’s concurrence. After the Senate proceedings, if not amendment is made by the House, the Bill goes to the Governor-General who assents to it on Her Majesty’s behalf, and it becomes an Act with the number and year of its assent. If the Senate makes amendments the Bill is sent back to the House of Assembly for its consideration before assent is sought.

If, however, the Bill originates from the Senate, the process given above is reversed

Other Terms on Bills

Withdrawal of Bills
A Bill may be withdrawn by leave of the House or as the case may be in committee, either before the commencement of public business or when any stage of the Bill is reached in the order of business, before the question is fully put should the mover so request.

Bills Having the Same Subject Matter
Once the Second Reading of any Bill has been agreed to or negated, no question can be proposed during the same session for the Second Reading of any other Bill containing substantially the same provision.

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