Page last updated at 16:21 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 17:21 UK

First Reading

First Reading is when a bill is formally presented to Parliament for the first time.

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.

When a bill passes through both the House of Commons and the House of Lords it goes through three key stages known as readings.

This term refers to a practice which was common in the days before the invention of printing when the full contents of a Bill would be read out loud to the House to inform MPs of its contents.

This is no longer necessary but the term readings has been retained.

First reading is when the title of the Bill is read out and copies are made available to members.

Notice of a bill's presentation appears on the daily order paper for the business of the House.

The actual moment of presentation is after questions.

In the case of a government bill, the Speaker calls the minister in charge of the department introducing the bill, or a whip acting on his or her behalf.

The minister then names a notional day for the bill's second reading.

This first reading stage also forms the order to print the bill, which only exists in "dummy" stage up to this point.

No debate takes place at first reading and the bill goes on to its next stage, second reading.



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