An Act of Parliament creates a new law or changes an existing law. An Act is a Bill approved by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords and formally agreed to by the reigning monarch (known as Royal Assent). Once implemented, an Act is law and applies to the UK as a whole or to specific areas of the country.

Putting the Act into force

An Act may come into force immediately, on a specific starting date, or in stages.

The practical implementation of an Act is the responsibility of the appropriate government department, not Parliament. For example, laws relating to transport issues would come under the administration of the Department for Transport.

Parliament or its committees may investigate how the government implements the Act and would consider any future Bills that amended or replaced it.

Changes to Acts

Future changes to the law happen through the passing of another Act or delegated legislation. An Act can also be repealed so that its provisions no longer apply. Parliamentary committees examine UK laws and recommend the removal of out of date legislation.

Finding the text of Acts

Looking for the text of an Act? The first question you need to answer is do you need the text of the Act in the form it was passed by Parliament or are you looking for a revised version of the Act incorporating any changes that have been made by subsequent legislation?

Text of Acts as passed

Texts of Acts of Parliament as originally passed by Parliament since 1800 are available on the website. The Parliamentary Archives has copies of original Acts from 1497.

Related information

Acts of Parliament

Full texts of all Public General Acts as passed since 1988 and all Private Acts since 1991 are available on the website.

Bills v Acts

A Bill is not an Act of Parliament. This is what a Bill becomes if approved by a majority in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and formally agreed to by the reigning monarch (known as Royal Assent). An Act of Parliament is a law, enforced in all areas of the UK where it is applicable.

Related internet links

Parliament is not responsible for the content of external websites.