A bill can start in the House of Commons or the House of Lords, but both Houses must agree the bill before it becomes law.

The initials ‘HL’ after a bill’s title mean it started in the Lords.

The stages a bill must go through are largely the same in both Houses, but the Lords process differs from the Commons in a few main ways:

  • any Member of the Lords can always take part in the committee stage
  • all amendments can be discussed (there is no selection)
  • there is no time limit on any stage
  • amendments can be made at third reading

There are specific minimum intervals between the different stages in the Lords (which can be set aside if it’s considered necessary to fast-track the bill):

  • two weekends between first reading and the debate on second reading
  • 14 days between second reading and the start of committee stage
  • on long and complex bills, 14 days between the end of committee stage and the start of report stage
  • three sitting days between the end of report stage and third reading

Contact an expert

Public Bill Office