Series GR-3890 - Drafting of legislation case files

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Drafting of legislation case files

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  • textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the series.

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  • 1916-1990 (Creation)
    British Columbia. Legislative Council

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87.1 m of textual records

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This series consists of drafting of legislation and regulation case files from the Legislative Council of the Ministry of Attorney General, mostly from the 1950s to the late 1980s. Most files relate to drafting new or amending existing individual bills, acts, regulations, and orders in council, and include a variety of records used in the drafting process for particular years. The series also includes some correspondence files, subject files, Cabinet Committee on Legislation Records of Decisions, Cabinet Committee Approvals, reviews of existing legislation, as well as general operational and administrative records of the office documenting the legislative process, meetings, procedures, training, human resources management, presentations and conference materials, such as the Uniform Law Conference.

Most legislation and regulation case files each have a two sided structure; however, this structure is not always followed consistently through the files. Records on the left side of the file generally include correspondence and memorandums, while the remaining documents such as acts, regulations, working drafts, reference material and records used in the legislation process are on the right side. These records can include copies of legislation from BC and other jurisdictions, drafts, working copies, amendments to existing legislation and regulations, reference materials used in the drafting and editing process, correspondence from government and third parties interested in changes to legislation, cabinet submissions, notes, bills, requests for new legislation, court judgements, commission reports, proclamations, orders in council and discussion papers.

These records have been classified as 34200-20 in the Legal Services ORCS (schedule 105050).

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Transferred from the Ministry of Attorney General at various dates.


Files are arranged by accession, then by file number. Files are named after their relevant legislation or subject. Note that there may be large gaps in file numbers in each accession, as files were closed at different dates and each accession was transferred to the archives as a separate unit. If there are file numbers missing from the file list they may be transferred as future accruals.

Accession 86-0082 contains the earliest files, with some records dating back to 1916. However, the majority of the files date from the 1950s to 1970. The files are arranged by file code. Most of the files in boxes 860082-00001 to 860082-0046 are also arranged alphabetically by file title (usually the name of the Act). The records includes file numbers from 1 to 5000. Boxes 860082-0047 to 860082-0049 contain additional administrative files such as correspondence, statute consolidation and revision files, and procedures. Most of these administrative records were created in the 1970s.

Accession 89-0187 contains files primarily from the years 1970 to 1978; these files were closed in 1988. Accession 90-0187 contains files from primarily 1979 to 1984; these files were closed in 1989. Together these two accessions have most of the file numbers from 1 to 7280, plus some additional unnumbered files. Future accruals should fill in any missing file numbers.

Accession 91-0187 contains files dating from 1973-1990. File numbers include 2206 and the following ranges: 4000s, 5000s, 6000s, 7000s, and 8037. Containers 910187-0154 to 910187-0157 are unnumbered.

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Restrictions on access

These records are subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act or other acts and access may be restricted. Please contact the BC Archives to determine the access status of these records.

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Associated materials

See GR-3677 Cabinet Committee on Legislation and legislation review and approval case files for records related to the legislative proposal process

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General note

Accession number: 86-0082, 89-0187, 90-0187, 91-0187

General note

The current processes of drafting legislation and orders in council in relation to these case files are as follows (note that procedures may have changed over time):

Legislative submissions to Cabinet are initiated by ministries in a "request for legislation" (RFL). Ministries send submissions requesting the establishment or amendment of statutes or regulations. A submission is made to Cabinet when Legislative Counsel has prepared and attached written comments on the feasibility of the request.

Once Cabinet approval is given to proposed legislation, and communicated to Legislative Counsel and the ministers the drafting stage begins. Legislative Counsel drafts the legislation in consultation with ministerial officials and relevant experts, and is responsible for setting standards for language, style and format. The length of time required for drafting depends on the complexity of the legislation, the number of unresolved policy issues and the priority of demands for drafting other legislation. The final draft is edited by the legislative editors, who are responsible for consistency of style and format.

First reading introduces a Bill into the Legislative Assembly. When the Bill is called for second reading the sponsoring Minister explains the purpose of the Bill in general terms and the Bill may be debated generally by Members of the Legislative Assembly. If the Bill passes a vote, it proceeds to Committee Stage where a clause by clause debate of the Bill then takes place. The Committee consists of all Members of the Legislature, any of whom may ask questions, seek clarification, and suggest amendments. If the Bill has been amended, a Report Bill is prepared by Legislative Counsel, with annotations (known as "redlining") to indicate changes.

The Bill then proceeds to the Third Reading. A Bill that passes third reading must await formal approval (Royal Assent) by the Lieutenant Governor before it becomes law. A Bill may contain a Commencement provision (usually the last section) which affects the date on which the Bill (or portions of it) actually comes into force.

Legislative Counsel drafts some orders in council (OICs). OICs are always enacted by the Lieutenant Governor in Council under the authority of a particular statute without having first been debated in the Legislative Assembly. They provide the legal basis for the day-to-day operation of the government. They involve expenditures of money, appointing individuals to boards and commissions, proclaiming special events or days, and establishing or amending regulations.

Most of the OICs drafted by Legislative Counsel establish or amend regulations. Legislative Counsel will draft other types of OICs, but only if a ministry is having difficulty. The usual practice is for ministries to draft OICs and send them to Legislative Counsel for review and approval. The Legislative Counsel Services only retains copies of OICs which are drafted by Legislative Counsel. Most of those OICs are regulations. Originals of enacted OICs are retained by Order in Council Administration, and copies are retained by individual ministries.

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