A bill needs to pass through certain stages in the House of Commons and the House of Lords before it can become law.

A bill can start its journey in either House.

First reading is the formal presentation of the bill and doesn’t involve any debate. Government bills are usually published immediately after first reading. The House debates the general principles of the bill at second reading, and amendments (proposed changes) at committee stage and report stage. The House decides whether to agree the bill at third reading.

The bill then passes to the other House. The first House is asked to agree with amendments made by the second.

Once both Houses are agreed, the bill receives Royal Assent and becomes law.

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Public Bill Office