The Law Makers

‘There should be a law against that’ – a phrase you hear from time to time. But how exactly is a law made.

First. we need to know about primary and secondary legislation. The latter is simply making a law to further detail an existing one. A brand new law requires primary legislation and that requires parliament, the law makers.

A law will often begin life as a Green paper, several ideas about a law for discussion. In due course a White paper is written and after further discussion a Bill is put before parliament. The bill has two readings (the first very brief), goes through a committee stage, a report back and then a third reading and vote. All that then happens in the House it didn’t start in (so if Commons went first, it then goes to the Lords). Amendments are made, debated and voted on. There are many hurdles before a new law is made – and, of course, there should be – there are often wide ranging implications.

So time is needed. One example would be banning smoking in public places. A white paper was written in 2004, yet the Health Act came into force in July 2007.