Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Friday, 31 October 2008

Third reading

Third reading is the stage in a bill's passage through the House of Commons and House of Lords when it is fully debated one last time in its finally amended form.

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.

Substantive amendments cannot be made at this stage.

Except for bills of major political or constitutional importance, third reading is usually very short.

After third reading in the Commons a bill is sent to the House of Lords for its Lords stages, usually on the same day or the next day the Lords is sitting.

Once a bill has passed third reading in both houses, it goes for royal assent - the final stage before becoming law.

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