• Model HoC: Bill Writing Guide

Contents

The big fat guide to drafting a Bill

This guide is intended to help people avoid some of the mistakes which I have seen others make when drafting a TSR bill. Some parts may seem common sense and condescending, but the basics of Bills and Acts of Parliament are not commonly taught in British schools (at least, I was never taught them) - so don't take any offence from them. :)

Please check the HoC Law Wiki and the Hansard first to make sure your idea hasn't already been done!

Basic Format of a Bill

Every bill should start with the sentence:

"BE IT ENACTED by The Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-"

Then it is followed by what the bill does. This should be divided into sections - first by numbers, then by numbers again (this time in brackets), then letters (this is actually based on the real Parliament and is not TSR rule. However, following it adds to the authenticity to the bill, and provides consistency).

The style for the full text of the bill is best shown with an example - comments are written in italics:

Blue Shirts etc (Prohibition in Public Places) Bill]Blue Shirts etc (Prohibition in Public Places) Bill

While it may seem odd to use the word "etc" in the title of a bill, I didn't do that just because it was a fake bill - it is very common for a bill's title to end in "etc"

An Act implementing a ban on the wearing of blue shirts in public places.

A brief description of the bill may be included here - this may also include the reasons for the bill (its intended results).

BE IT ENACTED by The Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-

1. Offence of wearing a blue shirt in public.

(1) It is an offence to wear a blue shirt in a public place.

The bill should never say that something "will become" an offence. The bill is a proposed Act, and so should always say something "is" an offence if it is being made one.

(2) For the purposes of this Act-

Other than for the title, you should always refer to the bill as "the Act" on the presumption that it will be passed. The word Act should be capitalized.

"blue" means any shade of the colour of blue, from light blue to dark blue, not including turquoise,
"shirt" means any item of clothing which covers the body from the head to waist, including T-shirts, blouses, tank tops and vests, but not including dresses or any other clothing item which extends to over 6 inches below the waist,
"public place" means any place to which the public or any section of the public has access, on payment or otherwise, as of right or by virtue of express or implied permission at the time.

Any terms which are ambiguous should be given some sort of definition. The definition for "public place" used here was directly nicked from the Breastfeeding etc. Bill

2. Enforcement and Punishment

(1) The enforcement of this Act should be the sole responsibility of the police forces of the UK.

(2) Violation of this Act should be punishable by a fine not exceeding £1,000 and/or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months.

3. Exemption

(1) Police officers shall be exempt from this Act whilst in uniform.

(2) The Secretary of State will be granted the power to make further exemptions to this Act as he finds necessary by Order.

At first glance this looks like two mistakes: firstly, which Secretary of State the bill is referring to is not given - that is normal, and is taken to mean the relevant Secretary of State; secondly, the SoS is referred to as "he" even though the position may be held by a woman. Again, that is normal. Sexist, but normal - you may want to put "(s)he" or "he/she" instead. ;)

4. Commencement, short title and extent

(1) This Act may be cited as the Blue Shirts etc Act 2006

(2) This bill shall extend to the United Kingdom; and

(3) Shall come into force immediately following Royal Assent.

All bills should feature a final section which details the following things: • a short title for the bill (if applicable - these are not always necessary);
• when the bill will come into force - this can be immediately, a designated period after the bill is passed or a specific day;
• Where the bill extends to. See devolution

Devolution

Some law-making powers are devolved to the national assemblies and parliaments in real life and you may wish to reflect this in your bills. The following are examples of different wordings you may wish to use.</p>

For a bill you wish to apply to England only:

1. This bill shall extend to England; and
2. Shall come into force on the [...date...] following Royal Assent.

For a bill which you wish to apply to England and Wales but is devolved in Wales in real Life, (e.g. a Law Bill):

1.This bill shall extend to England; and
2. Shall come into force on the [...date...] following Royal Assent; and
3. Shall be provided to the Welsh Assembly Government for their consideration; and
4. Subject to changes made by the National Assembly for Wales; and
5. Subject to an affirmative vote shall come into force on the [...date...] following Royal Assent.

For a bill which you wish to apply to the entire United Kingdom, but is devolved to the national Parliaments/Assemblies:

1. This bill shall extend to England; and
2. Shall come into force on the [...date...] following Royal Assent;and
3. Shall be passed to the Welsh Assembly Government for their consideration; and
4. Subject to changes made by the National Assembly for Wales; and
5. Subject to an affirmative vote shall come into force on the [...date...] following Royal Assent;and
6. Shall be passed to the Northern Ireland Executive for their consideration; and
7. Subject to changes made by the Northern Ireland Assembly; and
8. Subject to an affirmative vote in accordance with the conditions specified in Section 4.4 of the Federal Britain Act (2010);
9. Shall come into force on the [...date...] following Royal Assent;and
10. Shall be passed to the Scottish Executive for their consideration; and
11. Subject to changes made by the Scottish Parliament; and
12. Subject to an affirmative vote shall come into force on the [...date...] following Royal Assent.

You are able to revise the wording as listed above if it suits your needs better. If, for instance, you have a bill that you only wish to be in force if ratified by all of the devolved institutions, there may be a wording more suitable for that. [/field]
A very crucial point which is often not understood here is the bill should never say in the main text why you are doing something. If you do want to explain the reasons behind a bill you should do this either by a "note" at the end of the bill, by footnotes referenced to the relevent sections, or by turning up after the speaker posts the thread and explaining your reasoning there. :)

Other HoC Articles

About the TSR Model House of CommonsMHoC PetitionsThe Current ParliamentMHoC: History (Parties, Independents, Positions)MHoC: History (Elections, Parliaments, Governments)MHoC: History (Ministers, Cabinets, Privy Council)MHoC TreatiesMHoC Hansard (Era I, Era II) • MHoC MotionsMHoC ConstitutionMHoC Guidance DocumentMHoC Current LawMHoC Economic RecordMHoC AmendmentsMHoC Statements of Intent

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