How a Bill Becomes Law
Each Bill passes through the following stages:
- The Bill is introduced by the Member who rises in his/her place and says "Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a Bill, entitled ...". The bill is not read and no comments are made regarding its contents. There is no debate at this stage.
At the time of first reading a number is assigned to the Bill and it is then printed for distribution to the Members of the House. When the bill has been printed, the word PRINTED is marked on the Order Paper beside the Bill and it is then ready for further consideration.
- When a Bill has been called for second reading, the Member who introduced the Bill moves second reading and explains its purpose and content. At this stage Members have the opportunity to participate in a debate on the principle of the Bill. They may speak only once during this debate and no amendments are made at this time. Debate on second reading is closed when the Member introducing the Bill speaks for the second time to answer inquiries or objections that have arisen during debate.
- If a Bill is passed on second reading and given approval in principle it is referred to a Committee. Public Bills are referred to the Law Amendments Committee. Private or Local Bills are referred to the Private and Local Bills Committee. Both the Law Amendments Committee and the Private and Local Bills Committee hear representations from any interested persons. The time and location for the hearings are determined by the Chair of the Committee, subject to direction by the Committee. The Legislative Counsel's Office provides counsel for both the Law Amendments Committee and the Private and Local Bills Committee. Persons who wish to make representations respecting any Bill at the Committee stage or wish to be present when the hearing takes place should advise the Legislative Counsel's Office so that their names can be listed and they can be notified when the date and time of the meeting is determined. The Bill is considered, clause by clause, in these committees.
- Bills are returned to the House from these two Committees either with or without recommendations for specific changes. After the Bills have been reported to the House they are then considered by the Committee of the Whole House on Bills and debated in detail for a maximum of 20 hours. Members may speak more than once during this debate and the amendments made in the Committees can be either approved or rejected at this time. The Committee of the Whole House then reports to the House and the Bill is placed on the Order Paper for third reading.
- Third Reading of the Bill is often a fairly quick approval although it may be debated and may be amended at this stage if proper notice has been given in advance to the Clerk of the House.
- After approval on third reading, the Bill receives Royal Assent. Royal Assent is given by the Lieutenant Governor before the House of Assembly and the Bill is thereafter referred to as an Act.
Ordinarily an Act takes effect on the date upon which it is assented to. However, it is sometimes provided that it shall take effect on a specified date or on a date to be fixed by proclamation by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.