Legal Aid: Lords consider amendments
23 April 2012
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill bounces back to the House of Lords today (Monday 23 April) for consideration of Commons' amendments in the 'ping pong' stage
The bill returns from the Commons, where Lords' changes to the bill were examined on Tuesday 17 April.
Consideration of amendments/ping pong explained
Once the bill has completed its passage through the second chamber the bill will return to the Commons where they will consider any amendments made.
Both Houses need to agree to the exact wording of the bill and the bill may 'ping pong' between both houses until this happens.
When the exact wording of the bill has been agreed by both Houses the bill is ready for royal assent. Once a bill receives royal assent it becomes an Act of Parliament (proposals in the bill become law).
The bill's progress so far
Some key areas of the bill:
- The bill takes certain types of case out of scope for legal aid funding and provides that cases would not be eligible for funding unless specified in the bill.
- It abolishes the Legal Services Commission.
- It makes various provisions in respect of civil litigation funding and costs, taking forward the recommendations of the Jackson Review.
- It makes changes to sentencing provisions, giving courts an express duty (rather than the current power) to consider making compensation orders where victims have suffered harm or loss, reducing the detailed requirements on courts when they give reasons for a sentence, allowing courts to suspend sentences of up to two years rather than 12 months and amending the court’s power to suspend a prison sentence.
- It introduces new powers to allow curfews to be imposed for more hours in the day and for up to 12 months rather than the current six.
Next and final stage: Royal assent
Once a bill has completed all its parliamentary stages in both Houses, it's ready to receive royal assent and become an act of Parliament (law). Royal assent is the Queen's formal agreement to make the bill into an act.
There is no set time period between the consideration of amendments and royal assent.
When royal assent has been given, an announcement is made in both Houses by the Lord Speaker in the Lords and the Speaker in the Commons.
At prorogation (the formal end to a parliamentary session), Black Rod interrupts the proceedings of the Commons and summons MPs to the Lords chamber to hear the Lords commissioners announce royal assent for each bill.
Image: iStock photo
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