Do Short Titles Matter? Surprising Insights from Westminster and Holyrood

Brian Christopher Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-462
Number of pages15
JournalParliamentary Affairs
Volume65
Issue number2
Early online date5 Dec 2011
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2012

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