26.8The purpose of a preamble, which appears immediately after the long title, is to state the reasons for and the intended effects of the proposed legislation. Though a preamble is now rarely included in a public bill, one may still appear in a bill of great constitutional importance or in a bill to give effect to international conventions.1 In the case of the Abnormal Importations (Customs Duties) Bill 1931, the Import Duties Bill 1932 and the Ottawa Agreements Bill 1932, an expression of the aims of the legislation was incorporated with the enacting words. In the case of the Legal Aid Bill [Lords] 1987, a ‘purpose’ clause stating the purpose of the bill was inserted at third reading before the other clauses in the bill; and the first clause of the Family Law Bill 1996 similarly set out the ‘general principles’ underlying the rest of the bill.2


  1. 1. For example, Parliament Bill 1911 and Parliament (No 2) Bill 1969 (but not the Parliament Bills of 1947–49); Government of India Bill 1919; Statute of Westminster 1931; His Majesty's Declaration of Abdication Bill 1936; British North America Bill 1949; Geneva Convention Bills 1911 and 1936; Patents, etc (International Conventions) Bill [Lords] 1938; Welsh Language Bill [Lords] 1967; Canada Bill 1982; Foreign Nuclear Chemical and Biological Bases (Prohibition) Bill [Lords] 1983; Australia Bill [Lords] 1985; Brunei (Appeals) Bill [Lords] 1989; Australian Constitution (Public Record Copy) Bill 1989; Welsh Language Bill [Lords] 1993. Preambles have been incorporated in Private Members' Bills as presented to Parliament, eg Minimum Wages etc Bill 1984–85, European Communities Amendment Bill 1987–88, Right to Work Bill 1995–96, Prime Minister (Office, Role and Functions) Bill 2001, Parliament (Participation of Members of the House of Commons) Bill [Lords] 2005–06, Sovereign Grant Bill 2010-12. A hybrid bill, as a public bill, does not require to have preamble proved in the same way as a private bill.
  2. 2. HL Deb (1987–88) 494, c 10. See also The Preparation of Legislation (1975), Cmnd 6053, paras 11.6–11.8.