First reading and second reading

The Commons Public Bill Office considers all public bills before they receive their first reading to see whether they might be hybrid. Once a bill that appears to be hybrid has received its first reading, it’s sent for formal classification by parliamentary officials appointed by the Speaker, called the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills. If they decide the bill is hybrid, they check it complies with the rules for private bills (Private Business Standing Orders), which require the proposals to be advertised and certain documents to be submitted. The documents required include an environmental statement. Before a hybrid bill receives its second reading, any member of the public has the opportunity to comment on the environmental statement.

If the bill doesn’t comply with the rules, it’s referred to the Standing Orders Committee, which decides whether the bill can proceed. Often, the non-compliance will be on a minor, technical matter, which the Committee would not use as a reason to reject the bill.

The procedure for second reading of a hybrid bill is the same as for a public bill and you will have a chance to debate the principle of the bill in the Chamber.

Committee stage

After a hybrid bill has received its second reading, it’s sent to a specially formed select committee, which considers petitions against the bill. Petitions against the bill, unlike comments on the environmental statement, can only be made by people or organisations directly affected by the bill. The motion to refer the bill to a select committee normally also sets down the remit of the committee. This stage of the bill can take many months, depending on the number of petitions received.

Once a hybrid bill has been considered by a select committee, it’s sent to a public bill committee or a committee of the whole House, in the same way as a public bill.

Report stage and third reading

Report stage and third reading take place in the Chamber, and are the same as for public bills. So you can submit amendments at report stage and have an opportunity to debate the bill more generally at third reading.

The bill is then sent to the House of Lords, where there’s another opportunity for people who are directly affected to petition against the bill and to appear before a select committee. When both Houses have agreed the bill, it receives Royal Assent and becomes an Act of Parliament.

Carry over

If a hybrid bill hasn’t been agreed by the end of a session, motions can be tabled in each House to suspend it and carry it over to the new session. If the motions are agreed, the bill can continue its journey at whatever stage it reached in the previous session. If the motions aren’t agreed, the bill will fall or have to start again in the new session. In the Commons, such a motion will often be passed at the same time as the second reading of the bill.