Political Ideologies | Parliamentary Terms | British Politics | British Law | Legal Terms

Act.  A Bill which has been made law.

Bill.  Proposed legislation is termed a Bill.  Bills may start in either House but have to pass through both Houses to become law.  The 5 stages of a Bill are:

 1. First Reading.  Constitutes an order to have the Bill printed.

 2. Second Reading.  The debate on the principles of the Bill.

 3. Committee Stage.  The detailed examination of a Bill.

 4. Report Stage.  Detailed review of a Bill as amended in committee.

 5. Third Reading.  Final debate on a Bill.

dissolution.  Parliament comes to an end either through dissolution by the Sovereign or the expiration of a term of five years.

division.  Any formal vote in Parliament.

green paper.  A document containing policies for discussion.

Hansard.  The official report of debates in both Houses.

hung parliament.  A parliament where no single party has an overall majority of seats (326 or more).

lobby.  One of two corridors where MPs vote in a division.  Also a hall where the public may meet Members of Parliament.

Member of Parliament.  An elected member of the House of Commons.

Minister.  Head of a government department.

opposition days.  One of 20 days per session in which the topic for debate is chosen by the opposition.

private members bill.  A Bill promoted by an MP who is not a member of Her Majesty's Government.

prorogation.  The closure of a session of Parliament by the Sovereign.

Royal Assent.  The Royal Assent (Royal Veto) is the official signature by the Sovereign to an Act of Parliament.

select committees.  Select committees are the means used by both Houses to investigate specific matters.  Most select committees are now tied to departments such as Defence, Employment, Energy and Transport.

sessions.  The life of a parliament is divided into a number of sessions each one year in length.

standing orders.  Rules which have been agreed by each House to regulate the conduct of their business.

Star Chamber.  Originally a Privy Council court abolished in 1641, now a Conservative ministerial group responsible for setting government spending limits.

The Speaker.  The Speaker of the House of Commons has been the spokesman and President of the Chamber since 1377.

whips.  In order to secure the attendance of Members on all occasions Whips are appointed. The written appeal to attend is also known as a 'whip', its urgency being denoted by the number of times it is underlined. Failure to respond to a three line whip is tantamount to secession (at any rate temporarily) from the party.

white paper.  A document containing policies for debate in Parliament.

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