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2.7 (iii) Royal Commissions

Royal Commissions occasionally report to Parliament with recommendations for legislation which may be taken up as part of the Government's legislative programme. Royal Commissions are advisory committees established by the Government – though formally appointed by the Crown, hence the ‘Royal’ – to investigate any subject the Government sees fit to refer to one. They are often used for non-party political issues, or for issues that a Government wishes to be seen as addressing in a
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(ii) National emergency, crisis or new development

Legislation may be passed because of some national emergency or crisis which emerges during the Government's period in office. For example, the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 was introduced to respond to the new situation arising from the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001. The aim of the 2001 Act was to cut off terrorist funding, ensure that Government departments and agencies have the power to collect and share information required for countering
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2.3 The House of Lords

Originally the members of the House of Lords comprised those who had inherited a title (known as hereditary peers), senior judges who sat as Law Lords, and the most senior bishops in the country. During the twentieth century the awarding of a title for life (known as a life peerage) became more common. The Prime Minister nominated people who should receive a title for their lifetime only. In this way, people who had served the country and were thought to be suitable members of t
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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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9 Where do the ideas for an Act of Parliament come from?

Ideas for an Act of Parliament can come from many sources. You have explored the different types of Bills that exist, and been introduced to the idea that laws need to respond to social and political change. The list that follows is not exhaustive, but is intended to provide an illustration of the range of bodies interested in law and changes in the law.

Political party manifestos

Party manifestos and pre-election promises are influenced by what politicians believe the publ
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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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6.4 How is law made?

The Scotland Act 1998 provided minimum requirements for the process which was to be followed by the Parliament in creating law by considering and passing Bills. Section 36(1) of the Scotland Act 1998 required there to be at least three distinct stages to which Bills are subject, including a stage when members can debate and vote on the general principles of the Bill, a stage when they can consider and vote on its details, and a final stage when the Bill can be passed or rejected.


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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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6.1 Legislative powers of the Scottish Parliament

Section 6 will consider the legislative powers (law making) of the Scottish Parliament, and the procedures that Bills have to go through before they become law. A Bill is a draft Act, and there are a number of different types of Bill. A Public Bill seeks to change the general law or deals with matters of public policy. A Private Bill seeks powers for a particular organisation or individual that are in excess or in conflict with general law. If the Bill is passed it is enacted and becomes an A
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5.1 Devolution

As noted earlier, one of the important things to understand about law making is that it has to be responsive. Lawyers study legal principles and sources of law in a lot of detail at university and as part of their professional qualifications. Whilst many of the basic principles of law and the methods of law making remain the same, the situations they apply often change as the world progresses and develops, for example the increased use of mobile phones and computers. Law has to respond to nee
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4 An overview of the legal history of Scotland

To understand the current system of law making in Scotland it is helpful to know from where it originated. The law in Scotland has a complex history, and has been influenced by a wide range of sources. It has a distinct system from that in England and Wales or Northern Ireland, and remains so today. The distinction comes from both historical developments and the current procedures for law making.

Some of the earliest influences on legal Scotland included native customs, Norse law and We
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2 What is law?

This section will look at what we mean when we refer to ‘law’. What is ‘law’, how do we know it exists and how is it defined?

The ‘law’ is rarely out of the news and is often the focus for fictional drama, whether it is a television show depicting a police investigation, or one involving solicitors and advocates. It is something that touches our lives on a daily basis, it governs what we can and cannot do, it is used to settle disputes, to punish and to govern
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1.1 Reading

Activity 1: Reading unfamiliar information

0 hours 30 minutes

Read the extracts provided in Box 1 below. Don't worry i
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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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6.4 Summary of Part E

After studying Part E you should be able to:

  • explain what is meant by the application of rules;

  • read and make sense of a set of rules;

  • explain how and why different interpretive strategies may lead to different interpretations of a rule;

  • apply a set of rules to a set of facts.

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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5.1 Introduction

We have seen some of the difficulties that Mrs Biggs has faced when formulating a sufficiently general and sufficiently specific rule to deal with the conduct of the visitors to her garden. In Part D we take things a step further by looking at some of the difficulties which may arise when it comes to interpreting rules such as the one developed (with your help) by Mrs Biggs. In particular, we will be exploring the way in which our understanding of the language used in rules affects our interp
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