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Writing Bills: a step-by-step guide
#1
Writing a bill can be a daunting task, but we've attempted to make the process simpler this time around. On PoliticsUK, we generally expect some quality in legislation offered to Parliament, so that it can receive proper debate. Some guidelines for legislation are offered below, as well as a step-by-step guide to writing a bill, from first research to last check. 

Guidelines:
  • Bills should look the part. That means you have to format it like a real bill, ready to be passed into statute. Of course, we don’t expect ten-page bills (that would take a whole in-game year to write) and they may be shorter, just a few sections, but mind the tone, spelling and use of language: it needn't be formal (but it's nice), but try to check spelling and grammar.

  • Every bill has to be structured properly, so it has to consist of:
    - A short title, long title, and enactment clause
    - A number of sections, and if needed for longer bills, structured into parts/titles.
    - A section defining the commencement procedures and short title.

  • If you want to use legislation from RL, you may ask the A-Team, but its often too complex to use IG. You may paraphrase them and use bits in your own words (it’s inevitable), but don't get too hung up on the immense details in RL legislation.
So, how do I write a bill? Martijn’s step-by-step guide.
I hope this explanation will fit the bill (pun entirely intentional). I’m going to explain simply to you how to write a bill, from research to final checks. But, without further ado: the first steps.

1) Research
Of course, you first have to get an idea. Usually these ideas come from manifestos, think tank reports and party campaign guides, but they’re quite sketchy. Before you embark on writing an act, it might be a good idea to check if its easily done by presenting a ministerial statement rather than a bill - if you're unsure, then ask the A-Team, but these things will become clear as you play

If an idea is based on some real policy, it might be worth it to find the text of the real life measure that introduced it. For finding the text of laws, go to <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://legislation.gov.uk">http://legislation.gov.uk</a><!-- m -->. Be sure to go to advanced search: there you can tick a box saying that you want the text you see to be as originally enacted, not with all the amendments up to the present day.

So, now the search begins for acts that need changing, so you know what the status quo is. Usually, these things are also mentioned in reports, campaign guides and manifestos, so be clever and look them up there. If not, just look them up, on Wikipedia (handy if you don't really understand the technical language of a bill) or directly in the legislation search engine. For example, if you want to do something with health, I’d look up “Health Act” at legislation.gov.uk and tell the search engine to give me all the bills up to the year in which the game started (or, in fact, up to a few years in the future). Take care to make sure a bill was enacted in the game world! Anything before game start should be okay.

It could be wise if you’ve got a large amount of new drafting to do to structure and write out exactly what you want your bill to do.

2) Title
Give your act a short title. This is usually something bland and uninspirational and may involved brackets. So, if you’re reforming the National Health Service radically, you may call it “Health Act 1990”. If you’re, for example, only reforming dental care, then name it “Health (Dental Care) Act 1990”.
Then give your act a long title. This takes the form of the formula “AN ACT to… etc. etc.” and explains what the act intends to do. So, for example, “AN ACT to make provision for the free provision of dental care in the NHS, and for related purposes.”

3) Enactment clause
Then it’s time for the enactment clause, the traditional formula invoking the Queen-in-Parliament that experienced PolUK draftsmen know by heart (crazy, huh?). It’s:

Quote: Wrote:BE IT ENACTED by the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Temporal and Spiritual, and Commons, in the present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows-:”
Some bills have a different enacting formula. The most used of these bills is the Finance Act, which has an enacting formula asking the Queen to grant money for the public expenses. Another, less used, different enacting formula invokes the Parliament Act to force something through the House of Lords.

4) Text
Let’s write the text of your bill now. Separate the bill into sections and, if really needed, group them into parts/titles dealing with several subjects if it’s a really long bill. You might find these few pointers as to the most occurring formal formulas helpful:
  • It’s “Parliament”, not “the Parliament”.

  • “as the Secretary of State may by order appoint”; “by order of the Secretary of State”: the Secretary of State may by order do certain things under this act. Note that the SoS in question is not named as having a certain portfolio, for the sole reason that this might change.

  • Use “act” when referring to the bill. Technically, it isn’t an act yet, but otherwise we have to change every “bill” to “act” before posting the bill in Hansard.
Clauses in real legislation look something like this:
Quote: Wrote:(1) Where the Secretary of State is not satisfied that a school is acting in accordance with the provisions of sections 2 and 3, the power conferred upon the Secretary of State in Schedule 4 of the Education Act 1980 to terminate the participation agreement of a school shall extend to this situation;

We do not expect that; something along the lines of the following is more than adequate.
Quote: Wrote:(1) When a school does not follow the requirements set in this act, the Secretary of State may terminate that school's participation agreement;

5) Short title, extent and commencement
The last article always contains provisions for the short title, extent and commencent. This is where you tell how the bill is to be cited, when it is going to enter into force, and where in the United Kingdom it applies. The first sub-section is the short title of the Act:

Quote: Wrote:(1) This Act may be cited as the “Education (Decency and Neutrality) Act 1984”;
The second defines when the act is going to enter into force. First rule: this is NEVER “upon Constitutional passage” or “upon Royal assent”. This may be, for example, a set date:

Quote: Wrote:(2) This Act shall enter into force on the 1st of January, 1990
Or you may empower the Secretary of State to set the date for commencement.

Quote: Wrote:(1) This Act shall enter into force upon such a date as the Secretary of State may by order appoint;
Alternatively, you may even empower the Secretary of State to set different dates for different sections:

Quote: Wrote:(1) This Act shall enter into force upon such a date as the Secretary of State may by order appoint; and different dates shall be appointed for different purposes;
Finally, you have to set the extent of the bill. Where does it apply? England and Wales? England, Wales and Scotland? The whole United Kingdom? This consideration may seem trivial, but Scottish Law is different than the law of England and Wales, so usually one act is enacted for England and Wales, and another for Scotland, in real life. There may be differences between the law as applicable to Scotland and the law as applies South of the border, even in the pre-devolution area, so be sure to check.

Quote: Wrote:(3) This Act shall extend throughout the United Kingdom, OR (3) This Act shall extend to England and Wales.

6) Party Headquarters and Cabinet
If you haven’t done so already, it’s good practice to post a new bill in Party Headquarters and in Cabinet for your fellow party members to comment on it before presenting it to the House. If you get to it, you could even give your fellow party members some pointers on how the bill is to be defended in Parliament and in the Press.

7) First Reading
It’s all done! Now go and post the bill in First Reading, along with a speech introducing it, and be sure to follow the First Reading rules. Once Second Reading is scheduled, your bill will be debated. Good luck!
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