Amendments work by changing the language in the bill. An amendment should do one of three things:
- leave out words
- replace words with other words [leave out....and insert...], or
- add words
You should bear in mind:
- You must describe the precise point of the bill you’re trying to amend, in the following order: clause, page, line. Make sure you are using the latest version of the bill. If the bill has been amended in committee, it will probably have been republished and you will need the “As amended in Committee” version for report stage. If you’re unsure whether you have the latest version, you can check with the Public Bill Office or the Vote Office.
- You can’t amend the title of a clause or the heading of a part of the bill.
- It can be useful to find another provision in an existing act that achieves a similar purpose to your amendment. Lexis Library is a searchable database of UK legislation and can be accessed on the intranet.
- If your amendment refers to other bits of the bill, you should call them sections rather than clauses (because a clause becomes a section when a bill gets Royal Assent and becomes an act). Similarly you should refer to subsections rather than subclauses.
- If you’re leaving out only a few words then quote the words that you’re leaving out in full. For example: Leave out “long-haired cats”. But if you’re leaving out a long chunk of text (more than five words) use the formula: Leave out from “x” to “y” (where “x” and “y” are the words you want to keep in the bill). So, for example, if you wanted to amend the following text to remove the requirement to complete the application in triplicate and red ink, you would write an amendment to leave out from “be” to “submitted”. “Applications to hold a dog show must be [completed in triplicate, filled in using a red pen and] submitted to the council office two weeks before the date of the event.”
- You might need to define some of the language you’re using (if it’s not already defined in law). For example: “In this section “cruelty” means...”
- Amendments may require related amendments to make them effective. For example, an amendment to leave out subsection (4) might require other amendments to remove references to subsection (4) elsewhere in the bill.