The Legislative Process
1. How is a Bill introduced and considered in Parliament?
A Bill may be introduced in Parliament by any Member of Parliament. A Government Bill is introduced by a Minister. Any private member may also introduce his own Bill.
At least 2 clear days before a Government Bill is introduced in Parliament, a Notice of Introduction, signed by a Minister, must be given to the Clerk of Parliament together with a copy of the Bill. In the case of a Private Member's Bill, the Notice of Introduction must be given at least 4 clear days before the introduction of the Bill.
On the First Reading of a Bill, the long title of the Bill is read aloud. The Bill is then handed over to the Clerk of Parliament who is responsible for printing and circulating the Bills to the Members of Parliament.
Except in the case of urgent Bills, no Bill may be read a second time until 10 clear days have passed after it has been printed and circulated to Members of Parliament and has appeared in the Gazette. On the Second Reading, a general debate may arise covering the general merits and principle of the Bill. After a Bill has been read a second time, it will stand committed to a Committee of the whole Parliament unless Parliament on motion commits it to a Select Committee. The Committee has the power to make such amendments to the Bill as it thinks fit.
After the Bill has been considered by the Committee of the whole Parliament, the Bill is then reported from the Committee of the whole Parliament where it is ready to be read a third time.
Where a Bill requires special consideration, Parliament may send it to a Select Committee comprising selected Members of Parliament. The public is invited to make written representations to the Select Committee on the Bill and may be invited to give evidence before the Select Committee on the matter. The deliberations and enquiries of the Select Committee are confined to the Bill and the relevant amendments. After the Bill has been considered by the Select Committee, the Bill is then reported from the Committee of the whole Parliament where it is ready to be read a third time.
On the Third Reading of the Bill, amendments, if any, will be proposed. The debate at the Third Reading is confined to the contents of the Bill. Any reasoned amendment which raises matters not included in the Bill must be ruled out of order. The Bill is then put to vote.
2. How does a Bill become law?
Under our Constitution, all Bills passed by Parliament (except for money Bills, urgent Bills and Bills affecting defence, security, public safety, peace or good order in Singapore) must be sent to the Presidential Council for Minority Rights (PCMR) to ensure that they do not discriminate against any racial or religious community. After the PCMR has scrutinised the Bill, the Bill is presented to the President for the President’s assent. A Bill becomes law (i.e. it becomes an Act of Parliament) only when it has been assented to by the President. The date the Act comes into force is usually determined by the Minister in charge of the Act and notified by a commencement Notification published in the Gazette.