Parliament has the power to make new laws and change old ones.
The UK Parliament can be found in Westminster, London. It has three parts:
- The House of Commons is made up of 650 Members of Parliament (MPs). We vote for our MPs and whoever wins represents everyone in our local area (called a constituency) even if we voted for someone else.
- The House of Lords has over 700 members, who are not elected but who have been selected by the prime minister and appointed by the Queen.
- The monarch, our Queen, opens and closes Parliament every year, asks the winning party in a general election to become the government and officially signs all the laws that Parliament votes for.
How are laws made in Parliament?
Acts of Parliament are laws of the land that affect us all. For example, laws determine at what age people can drive cars or vote in elections.
A proposed new law is called a bill. Bills must be agreed by both Houses of Parliament before becoming laws. This often means that a bill is passed backwards and forwards between the House of Commons and House of Lords, each making changes, until they are both happy with the exact wording.
This makes sure that the bill is properly thought through and that all the consequences of the new law have been considered.
Once both Houses have agreed on the bill it can be approved by the Queen. This is called Royal Assent and means the bill becomes an Act of Parliament and therefore officially a new law.
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