The Government is responsible for proposing new legislation or amendments to existing legislation in the form of bills for consideration by the Legislative Council. If passed, they become ordinances after receiving the Governor's assent. Broadly speaking, bills have the following purposes :

    to introduce new measures or policies or to create new organizations or institutions;
    to extend the scope of existing legislation;
    to improve and update existing legislation;
    to modify or reform the machinery of Government; or
    to raise revenue.

A bill, shortly after gazetting, is given three readings. The first reading is a formality with the short title read. The second reading provides Members with an opportunity to debate the general merits and principles of the bill. After the second reading has been moved, the debate is adjourned, with the bill referred to the House Committee to allow Members more time to study it.

When the debate resumes, Members debate the general merits and priciples of the bill. At the committee stage, the Council becomes "a Committee of the whole Council" and goes through the bill clause by clause, making amendments where necessary. After the bill has passed through Committee with or without amendments, it proceeds to the third reading for passage by the Council.

If the motion for the second reading of a bill is negatived, the bill will proceed no further. Alternatively, the Government may (at the beginning of the proceedings on a bill at a sitting) withdraw a bill. On the other hand, if a bill is sufficiently urgent, it may be passed at a single sitting.

Last Updated on 7 Jan, 1997