Understanding the Parliamentary Stages of a Government Bill

A guide for those who work for an MP

Updated: 13 June 2009

Most of our guides involve some work on our part.  In this case our effort has been minimal because the hard graft has already been done by those wonderful people in the Information Office of the Commons Library, in the form of a Factsheet: Parliamentary Stages of a Government Bill.

This excellent fifteen-page Factsheet (Legislation Series No 1) fully explains how legislation progresses. W4MP recommends all new staff to read this Factsheet as soon as possible as it will lift some of the mist that shrouds the activities of your Member.  It includes a useful glossary of terms you really should know and explains some of the rarer procedures, such as the use the Parliament Acts which allow the Government to force through legislation without the consent of the Lords.

The Factsheet is at:  http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/l01.pdf  which is on Parliament’s public website.

The key procedure to grasp is that relating to Government Bills but if you want to understand how the process works in relation to Private Members’ Bills, Private Bills and Hybrid Bills there are Factsheets for these as well – in the “Legislation” series – as follows:

Once you’ve digested these – and if you’re an opposition staffer needing to get to work on a Bill – try W4MP’s guide to Working on Public Bills.



Found those samples of Factsheets useful? See the whole list here. They are listed under four headings:

  1. Procedure
  2. Legislation
  3. Members/Elections
  4. General.

All Factsheets are revised from time to time as circumstances alter or new developments take place.

CD/DR/June 2009
DR/AH/March 2004