Page last updated at 14:29 GMT, Thursday, 14 August 2008 15:29 UK

Committee of the whole House

If a bill is considered of great constitutional importance, or if very fast passage through Parliament is required, then it may be scrutinised in the Commons by a committee of the whole House.

This means that any MP can contribute to the clause-by-clause consideration of a parliamentary bill takes place after it has passed its second reading.

Usually, bills are examined at committee stage by a public bill committee, outside the Chamber, where only MPs on the committee can contribute.

But when a bill is debated in a committee of the whole House, the mace is placed on a bracket underneath the Table of the House and the chairman of ways and means stands in for the Speaker.

The Finance Bill is always sent to a committee of the whole House in the Commons.

In the House of Lords, committee stage consideration nearly always takes place in a committee of the whole House.

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