Parliament and making laws: 5 things lawyers often don't know

Parliament and making laws: 5 things lawyers often don't know

Parliament can often look unyielding and impervious to change.

It has been bombed, flooded and clambered on. The site on which it sits is now, somewhat unhelpfully, sinking into the Thames. What's more, St Stephen's Tower, or Big Ben to you and I, has even started to lean.

And yet it is still there, 175 years after its foundation stone was laid.

All of this history can, at times, make it seem more a relic of the past than a modern working institution at the heart of our democracy.

That this 'elegant disaster' needs a lick of paint—well, a potential £7.1 billion 'lick of paint'—is clear.

However, whilst the surroundings are crumbling, the institution itself, contrary to much public opinion, has been constantly renewing itself over the years. At times, many of these changes have been done in a 'hush-hush, there's-nothing-to-see-here' sort of way. However, in recent times, the institution has been improving the way it engages with the public.

To this end, last week, I attended a Parliamentary Outreach event at Portcullis House: 'How Parliament Works'.

Much of what was discussed were matters known, or ought to be known, to most lawyers. That said, there were some useful nuggets of information which I took away from it. Here's my top five:

  • Contentious bills typically start in the House of Commons: Bills start in both Houses of Parliament for no other reason that it makes logistical sense to split the workload. However, as a rough rule of thumb, bills started in the Lords are likely to be less contentious than bills started in the Commons. This is because bills started in the Commons can be forced through the Lords under the

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