How does the House of Lords work? Jump Start
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How does the House of Lords work? Jump Start

>>Narrator: So, you know about the Commons,
right? They’re busy getting on with things, running the country, but what about the Lords?
What are they up to? Well let’s take a look at that. So the Lords and the Commons are
the two chambers of the Houses of Parliament and it might seem like the two are always
trying to one up each other, but that’s not actually the way the Lords and the Commons
work together, because they’re both working towards the same thing. The Lords has three
main tasks, to question and challenge the work of government, to help shape laws and
to investigate issues through committees and debates. Every day the Lords has the chance to question
the government, grilling them on their actions and decisions, this is an important way to
hold the government to account. If a particular event is happening, like a foreign war or
health crisis, they can ask the government what they propose to do. The Lords also forms committees to investigate
and explore important issues, these committees will then produce papers in order to keep
everyone informed and up to date. So that’s one element of the Lord’s role. But how
do they actually write laws to make sure they work? Well first we need a bill, a draft of
a law, that needs to be agreed on by both houses. So imagine the government wanted to
reduce the legal age of buying alcohol to 16 and started the bill in the Commons. When
the bill reaches the Lords, they have a look at what the government has proposed. This
starts with the first reading, where the Lords have their first chance to read through the
proposed bill, they then start the key work of the bill by debating it thoroughly in what’s
called the second reading. They look at the positives and the negatives, there could be
an increase in public disorder or teenage pregnancy, or it could reduce binge drinking
and the strain put on health services. The next stage is committee stage where the bill
is thoroughly examined, line by line, and changes are made. There are many clauses,
loopholes and amendments to consider and it’s important they’re all thoroughly examined,
plus there’s still two stages where changes can be made, there’s still more fixing and
plugging loopholes to do in the report stage and third reading. You might think, enough
already, just pass the bill or chuck it out, yet it takes time. Committee
stage took 15 days on 2012’s health and social care bill, so why does it take so long? Well, for one, there’s no time limit for
the Lords to consider bills and making laws work takes time, especially when a bill is
urgent. The house stayed in session for 34 and a half
hours to debate the prevention of terrorism bill in 2005, they even had camp beds in the
corridors. After these stages, each house may have more arguments about each other’s
suggested changes, this is ping-ponging where the bill bounces between the houses until
everyone agrees. After any final amendments, the bill gets
the stamp of approval, a formality and it’s a law. It may take a while, but it’s worth
doing properly. So now you know about the Commons and the Lords, what do you think?

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