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2.5 (i) Party manifestos

When there is a general election most of the political parties publish a list of the reforms they would carry out if they were elected as the next Government. This is called the party's manifesto. Acts of Parliament may derive from the party manifesto on which the Government is elected. Below is an example of a party manifesto for the fictitious ‘Progressive Political Party’:

You may have s
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The House of Commons

The members of the House of Commons are elected by the public, with the country being divided into constituencies and each of these returning one Member of Parliament (known as an MP). There must be a general election every five years, though an election can be called sooner by the Prime Minister. The Government of the day is generally formed by the political party which has the most MPs elected to the House of Commons. The Prime Minister will usually be the leader of the largest political pa
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2.1 The Houses of Parliament

In this unit we will be concentrating on how Acts of Parliament are made in England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate procedures for making legal rules, although they are largely similar. In England and Wales, Parliament consists of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The site of the Houses of Parliament is the Palace of Westminster in London. The Palace of Westminster was a royal palace and the former residence of monarchs.

The UK Parliament dates f
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1 Rule making in England and Wales

One of the most important functions of any legal system is to state the legal rules by which the society in question is to operate. Legal rules are not necessarily the only codes which prescribe social behaviour (morals and etiquette are others), but legal rules are distinct in that they constitute an official code which has the backing of state powers of enforcement and sanctions. This unit explores the major sources of legal rule making in England and Wales – the Westminster Parliament. M
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11 How can a citizen become involved in this law making process?

As one of our constitutional duties citizens are expected to vote in Parliamentary elections. Both MSPs and MPs are elected. In voting in those elections a citizen is becoming involved in law making (even though they may not realise this).

The Scottish Parliamentary process has been designed to be as open as possible. This is reflected not only in the procedures that have been established, but also in the design of the Parliament building itself. The debating chamber, which was central
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10 Subordinate legislation

The time available to committees and the Scottish Parliament is limited. The Parliament sits on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Committees will normally meet on a Tuesday or Wednesday (occasionally Monday). This means that it may not be possible to hear all detailed aspects of a particular area of legislation quickly. A system, similar to the one used in the UK Parliament, has therefore been developed to allow for the creation of subordinate legislation.

An Act of Parliament is refe
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7.3.1 Stages of a Bill

  • 1 First reading: The title of a Bill is read out and copies of it are printed, but no debate takes place. There will be a vote on whether the House wishes to consider the Bill further.

  • 2 Second reading: The general principles contained in the Bill are debated by MPs. Frequently, the second reading stage is the point at which public attention becomes drawn to the proposal through press coverage, and on occasion, vociferous campa
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7.2 Preparing and drafting a Bill

A period of preparation of a Bill allows time to scrutinise evidence on the policies underlying Bills, and to consider whether Bills can be improved before they are introduced. Proper preparation of a Bill should lead to better-informed debates on Bills when they are introduced, and may save time by identifying problems at an early stage. This period of pre-legislative scrutiny allows valuable time for consideration, and therefore helps to avoid introducing laws that are unworkable. Consultat
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7.1 Reserved and devolved matters

As stated earlier, the UK Parliament can still legislate on reserved matters and also on devolved matters, with the agreement of the Scottish Parliament. This section looks at the law making process at Westminster. It is a very different process, which involves both the Houses of the Westminster Parliament.

An Act of the UK Parliament also starts off as a Bill, which, if approved by a majority in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, will become an Act of the Westminster Parliame
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6.7 Royal Assent

Section 32 of the Scotland Act provides that a Bill, once passed, must be submitted for Royal Assent. This is done after a period of four weeks. During that time, the Bill is subject to legal challenge by the Advocate General for Scotland, the Lord Advocate or the Attorney General, and may also be subject to an order made by the Secretary of State. The Presiding Officer may, however, submit the Bill for Royal Assent after less than four weeks if notified by all three Law Officers and the Secr
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6.6 Stages of an Executive Bill

To provide a flavour of the consideration of Bills, we will now look at the stages of an Executive Bill.

One of the unique features of the Scottish Parliament is its openness. There are processes for wide consultation, an open evidence process at committees, the ability of the public and interested parties to liaise directly with MSPs, and the ability to lobby for amendments to a Bill. For all these things the Scottish Parliament has received international recognition.

An Executiv
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6.5 Bills and the Scottish Parliament

Bills in the Scottish Parliament are very similar, in terms of layout, structure and the conventions of legislative drafting, to Bills of the UK Parliament. This is primarily because the Acts of the Scottish Parliament (ASPs) to which they are intended to give rise form part of the UK ‘statute book’ alongside existing statute law.

The stages of a Bill through the Scottish Parliament will depend on a number of factors, as not all Bills follow the same process. The difference bet
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6.3 Overview of the stages of a Bill

Section 29 of the Scotland Act 1998 provides:

‘An Act of the Scottish Parliament is not law so far as any provision of the Act is outside the legislative competence of the Parliament.’

This means that the Scottish Parliament does not have power to legislate for England, Wales or Northern Ireland on reserved matters, and cannot create legislation which is incompatible with EU law or
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6.2 The limits of legislative competence

Before devolution, all Bills affecting Scotland were introduced in, and subject to the procedures of, the UK Parliament. Some of those Bills were limited in extent to Scotland, while others applied to the whole of the United Kingdom (although often with some distinct provisions applicable only to Scotland). You can learn more about the procedures for the UK Parliament in Section 7 of this unit.

Section 28(1) of the Scotland Act
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7 Review of the unit's learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should be able to:

Part A

  • describe what is meant by a formal rule

  • identify a formal rule

  • describe the problems associated with rule making.

Part B

  • describe the relevance of policy for rule making

  • recognise differing reactions to Ireland's ban on smoking in the workplace

  • demo
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6.3 The relationship between making, interpreting and applying rules

Although the processes of making, interpreting and applying rules can be explored separately, as we have done in this unit, it is important to realise that they are all part of one larger process. A new rule is often made because the interpretation and application of an existing rule does not solve the problems which that rule now has to confront. In turn, that new rule may be drafted in such a way that its interpretation leads to consequences that were unintended by the rule-maker, and the p
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6.2 Applying other people's rules

The process of interpretation is very closely related to that of application. The reason is simple – before applying a rule, the person applying it must interpret it to see whether the conduct in question is one to which the rule applies. Sometimes this will be straightforward, and sometimes not, as will be seen in Activity 7. The purpose of this activity is to provide you with an opportunity to explore the different ways in
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6.1 Introduction

We have now looked at how formal rules are formulated, and at some of the strategies that may be deployed when interpreting them. In this part we will take this one step further and explore in more detail something that we have already touched on and thought about – the application of rules. This is a really important thing to understand, since rules are designed to regulate conduct, and have to be applied to instances of the conduct with which they are concerned.

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5.3 Summary of Part D

After studying Part D you should be able to:

  • explain the difficulties of interpreting written statements;

  • explain what is meant by indeterminacy;

  • explain what is meant by interpretive strategies;

  • describe the literal approach to interpretation;

  • describe the approach to interpretation which seeks to avoid absurdity;

  • describe the approach to interpretation which looks t
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