Research Note: Do Short Bill Titles Matter? Surprising Insights from Westminster and Holyrood
65(2) PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS, 448-462 (2012)
Posted: 28 Jun 2012
Date Written: 2012
The note is based on an exploratory investigation into the importance of short bill titles in the Westminster and Scottish Parliaments. Given the dearth of research and the commonly innocuous nature of short titles throughout the years, such titles are not provided much significance in either jurisdiction, either from a bill drafting or legislative process perspective. Drawing on a small sample of interviewees close to both processes in Westminster and Holyrood, it is demonstrated that short titles do indeed matter for a variety of reasons. Many MPs, MSPs, bill drafters and government employees acknowledged that short titles: do not serve merely as referential points; are important in the lawmaking process; could assist in the passage of legislation from a bill to a law and that some short titles were written to manipulate or persuade individuals into favouring legislation. Although clearly in the minority, there were also legislators in both jurisdictions who stated that such titles affected them when voting on legislation.
Keywords: short bill titles, legislative process, bill drafting, Westminster Parliament, Scottish Parliament
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