Government Bills are drafted by a team of lawyers in the OPC on the instructions of the Government department concerned. There may have been a Green (i.e. consultative) or White (i.e. statement of policy) Paper on its subject before the Bill is introduced; or the Bill may simply be presented without any prior announcement.
Brief description of how a Bill passes through Parliament to become an Act:
Bills currently before Parliament, and amendments to them:
Acts of Parliament since 1988:
Most Government Bills and Acts resulting from Government Bills have been accompanied by Explanatory Notes since November 1998. The Notes are designed to help the reader to grasp what the legislation does and how it does it. They also provide background information. They are not part of the legislation.
Explanatory Notes to Goverment Bills:
Explanatory Notes to Acts resulting from Government Bills:
In a House of Lords judgment, Lord Steyn made certain observations about the use of Explanatory Notes in construing legislation. In his judgment, Lord Steyn referred to an article in The New Law Journal by the then First Parliamentary Counsel, Christopher Jenkins, which summarised the background to the introduction of Explanatory Notes:
Lord Sainsbury of Turville's statement about the status of Explanatory Notes in reply to a written question from Lord Wedderburn of Charlton:
Original Government announcement of 21 January 1998 about the introduction of Explanatory Notes:
The House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution published its report on 'Parliament and the Legislative Process' on 29 October 2004. See, in particular, paragraphs 18 and 19 relating to the OPC (on pages 12 and 13).
The Committee published its comments on the Government's response to the report on 20 April 2005.