Public Bills

Public Bills, also know as Government Bills, represent perhaps the most important type of legislation. These are proposed laws which relate to public policy in some way, a good example being the Health Act 2006, which among other things, introduced the ban on smoking in public places.

Once a Bill becomes law, it becomes known as an Act of Parliament, but in order to achieve this, it must successfully navigate an often perilous path through both Houses of Parliament.

First Reading – represents the birth of a new piece of legislation. At this stage the title of a Bill will be read in a process known as the ‘first formal reading’. The Bill is then printed and proceeds to the next stage.

Second Reading – First chance for the House to debate the contents of a Bill. It is introduced into the House by a Government Minister from the department responsible for the Bill. Once this is complete the opposition is given its first chance to respond. At the end of this initial debate, the House will decide whether or not the Bill should proceed to the next stage. The 2n d reading will normally take place two weekends after the 1st reading.

Committee Stage – Represents the first opportunity to debate and amend the details of a Bill, clause by clause. Standing Committees are normally made up of 16 – 50 members of the House in proportion to overall party strengths.

Report Stage – A further chance to consider amendments, but this is open to all members of the House, not just those on the original Committee. This period is sometimes referred to as ‘Consideration’.

Third Reading – Is the final opportunity for the House to debate the Bill. No further amendments can be made at this stage. At the conclusion of the debate members vote on whether or not to send the Bill to the House of Lords for its consideration.

Next stage – once a Bill has been through the House of Lords, it wi l be returned to the Commons for any amendments made by the Lords to be...