How Does a Bill Become an Act of Parliament?
A White Paper was published on 16 June 2022 called ‘A Fairer Private Rented Sector’ and set out the Government’s long-term vision for the lettings industry. The proposed reforms mark “the biggest shake up of the PRS in 30 years.”
It wasn’t until 17 May 2023 that the Bill was introduced to Parliament. The First Reading is the first official stage of the Bill.
It was expected that the Second Reading would take place in Autumn 2023 though no firm date has yet been fixed.
Afterwards, it will need to go through further stages: the Committee Stage, the Report Stage, the Third Reading, some ‘Ping Pong’, and finally Royal Assent.
What do all these stages mean?
The First Reading is brief; the Bill was announced in the House of Commons with a short description. The Bill is circulated to all Members of Parliament in written form.
The Second Reading is considered the most important stage, as its fate is often decided at this point.
The Bill’s content is debated in the House of Commons and MPs vote on it. If it is voted out, that is the end of the Bill! However, if it’s successful, it can move on to the next stage.
Next is the Committee Stage. A committee of MPs discusses the Bill in minute detail, line by line.
It is intended that the composition of the committee is a ‘microcosm’ of the whole House of Commons, with the same percentage representation of MPs from Conservative, Labour and other parties.
The committee reports back to the whole House of Commons, discussing suggested amendments. These amendments may change or add provisions to the Bill. However, if none are suggested, this stage is merely a formality.
A date is usually fixed for the Bill’s finalisation at this point.
This is the final stage in the House of Commons, when final amendments are considered, then agreed or rejected.
There is a final debate and vote on the Bill.
Next, the House of Commons plays a game of ‘Ping Pong’ with the House of Lords. The House of Lords must now go through the same sequence of stages as the House of Commons has followed. However, because both Houses must agree on the contents, the Bill will move backwards and forwards between the Houses as further amendments are suggested, in order to reach an agreement – hence ‘Ping Pong’!
Once both the House of Commons and the House of Lords have agreed on the Bill, it is ready to be formalised by the Monarch.
The Prime Minister will present the Bill to the King, the King will sign it.
Most provisions of the new Act of Parliament will come into effect on a set date – commonly two months after the Royal Assent but it can be at any time fixed by the Government. This gives the government and those directly affected by the Act enough time to plan for the changes.
How can we help?
When it comes to Renter Reform Bill, the Government first committed to abolishing Section 21 Notices in April 2019 and both landlords and tenants are undoubtedly getting frustrated with the lack of progress.
It has been reported that the Housing Secretary Michael Gove has stated he cannot guarantee that the Bill will get its Second Reading immediately after Parliament resumes. There are only a few weeks until the King’s Speech in November which will set out the Government’s programme of legislation for the next session of Parliament. Some remaining legislation could be carried over into the next session.
At The Lettings Hub, we will keep you up to date with the progress of the Bill and update readers on any developments.