The US and British parliamentary system are almost similar because the former is a copy of the latter. Every section of legislation has to undergo a process to become law. Most new laws that are passed by the Legislature emanate from proposals originating from the national government. A Bill is an application or a proposal brought into Parliament and has to be debated by respective Houses to become an Act of Parliament. This study will offer the comparison, as well as the difference between the two political systems in an endeavor to understand the legislative process in the US and Britain.
Making Law in the British Parliamentary System
In Britain, a Bill can commence from the House of Commons or from the House of Lords. However, any bill relating to taxation or public expenditure is initiated from the House of Commons. The Bill has to undergo five stages before moving to the next House for endorsement. The first step is the first reading, where the title of the bill is read to the members while it is made available to them as a formality. The second reading incorporates discussion of the main principles by MPs. When the debate ends, all House members have to cast their votes to permit the bill to proceed to the Committee stage. Sometimes the members can allow the bill to move to the next stage without discussion, as long as they all agree to its progress.
The Committee stage is the third step where the bill is discussed line-by-line by a committee made of members representing the strength of parties in the House. In this stage, amendments are made and voting also takes place. Certain limits are set to avoid diluting the subject matter. The fourth stage is the Reporting stage, where the House is informed of the bill, and all amendments. In this stage, members of the House are only allowed to discuss the amendment. The third reading, or the final stage, permits minimum debate on the Bill and no amendments are allowed at this stage. Voting is done to endorse the Bill.
If the Bill was initiated in the Commons, the House of Lords takes the Bill, and the same procedure starts again. If the Bill was first discussed in the House of Lords, the same house must make consideration for any amendments proposed by the House of Commons. When both Houses agree on the Bill, the Bill is brought to the Queen, who undertakes the Royal Assent. After appending her signature, the Queen allows the Bill to become law, or an Act of parliament.
US Legislative Process
The US legislative process is quite different from that of Britain, as it has undertaken numerous steps to become law. In the US, only Senators and Representatives are allowed to introduce a bill. Both the Houses that make Congress play equal roles in the legislation. The Bill has to pass through numerous stages in both Houses before receiving Presidential Assent. When the Bill is introduced in House, it is referred to the committee. The House committee performs most of the work on the bills to ensure that they are thoroughly scrutinized. A subcommittee takes a reflection on the bill, votes on it to advance to the full committees, which also votes on it to proceed to the subsequent stage.
Rules committee can offer directives on how to debate and amend the bill. The House is then permitted to vote on special rule. The House of Representatives debates the Bill and make amendments, and after debate, the Bill is voted for to advance to the next stage. Both House and Senate can agree, or reach a compromise after ironing the differences between their versions of the Bill. The House and the Senate are allowed to debate and to vote separately on the compromised bill to approve it. The Bill is finally taken to the President for approval, and if he signs it, it becomes law. However, if he vetoes it, the Congress has the authority to rule against the veto by voting. A two-third vote turns the bill into law.
Comparison of the US and Britain Legislative Process
Both the US and Britain share a number of traits in the process of making the bills into laws. However, numerous differences exist in the way the legislative processes are undertaken. In Britain, the government, MPs, or private individuals, can introduce the Bill, but in the US, only Senators or Representatives have the rights to initiate the bill. In the US, both the House of Representatives and the Senate have equal power, but in Britain, the House of Lords have fewer powers than the House of Commons.
In the US, the House committees perform most of the tasks on the Bill while the entire House in Britain is involved in the debate. The committee stage comes after introduction of the Bill in the House while in Britain, the Committee stage happens to be the third stage. In the US, the President may refuse to sign the Bill, but this is almost impossible in the monarchy. Despite having differences, both the US and Britain have been able to carry out their legislative processes effectively to suit their respective countries.