Reports are agreed in private committee meetings. Once a draft report is ready, you will be sent a copy and will be given time to suggest amendments. It’s helpful if you can provide amendments in writing before the meeting so that they can be circulated to the whole committee. The committee staff can help you write amendments.

Draft reports are presented to the committee by the chair. It’s possible for alternative drafts to be put forward by another MP, but this is rare. At the meeting, the chair will generally hold an informal discussion to see whether any differences can be ironed out consensually. The chair may then move on to informal consideration of each paragraph or section of the report to clarify decisions on any changes. Amendments can be made informally if everyone agrees.

If agreement can’t be reached informally (or where there is a desire to record a minority opinion), the chair may then take the committee formally through the report paragraph by paragraph, including the proposing of formal amendments and the making of formal decisions on these. Votes will be held if the committee can’t agree. These votes are included in the formal minutes, which are published with the report.

Even if agreement has been reached informally, the chair will still need to put a set of formal questions at the end of the consideration so that the report can be made to the House as a whole. But if the text has been agreed consensually, the formal process is straightforward.

If the text is both heavily contested and members of the committee wish the differences of opinion to be on the record, then not only the informal consideration but also the formal consideration can stretch over more than one meeting.

You can record your objection to a report by seeking votes on individual paragraphs and/or the report as a whole. You can submit an alternative report which, if voted against by the committee, will be recorded in the formal minutes of the report. This isn’t formally a “minority report” but the effect is similar.

Committees generally try to proceed by consensus, and the vast majority of reports are agreed without votes, with conclusions and recommendations backed by the whole committee. This is generally perceived to be one of the strengths of the system.