Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 17:30 UK

Committee stage

Having passed second reading, a bill continues to committee stage - when parliamentarians make detailed line-by-line examination of the proposed legislation.

Stages a bill must pass in both the Commons and Lords
First reading: The title of a bill is read out and copies of it are printed but no debate takes place.
Second reading: A debate on the general principles of a bill.
Committee stage: Members subject a bill to line-by-line examination.
Report stage: A review of a bill that has been amended at committee stage.
Third reading: The House takes an overview of the bill as finally amended - before passing it on.

Committee stage takes place in both Houses of Parliament.

In the Commons, a public bill committee is usually set up to examine the bill, with the power to make amendments provided they are relevant to the bill's subject matter.

Amendments and new clauses may be moved by the minister from the government department introducing the bill, the opposition spokespersons, or by any member of the committee.

Since January 2007, when public bill committees replaced standing committees, parliamentarians have also been able to receive written evidence and call witnesses to testify on the detail of legislation they are examining.

Committee stage can also take place on the floor of the Commons - in a committee of the whole House.

This means that any member can contribute to the debate, and not just members of the public bill committee.

In the Lords, committee stage usually takes place in a committee of the whole House or in Grand Committee in the Moses Room, a large room away from the main Chamber, and rarely to other types of committee.

In both Houses, a bill goes to report stage after committee stage.

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