Second reading (Commons)

Debate on general principles of the Bill

Second reading is the first opportunity for MPs to debate the main principles of the Bill.

It usually takes place no sooner than two weekends after first reading.

What happens at second reading?

The Government minister, spokesperson or MP responsible for the Bill opens the second reading debate.

The official Opposition spokesperson responds with their views on the Bill.

The debate continues with other Opposition parties and backbench MPs giving their opinions.

At the end of the debate, the Commons decides whether the Bill should be given its second reading by voting, meaning it can proceed to the next stage.

It is possible for a Bill to have a second reading with no debate - as long as MPs agree to its progress.

What happens after second reading?

Once second reading is complete the Bill proceeds to committee stage - where each clause (part) and any amendments (proposals for change) to the Bill may be debated.

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Related Information

Glossary

Opposition: the political parties other than the largest or government party. Known as the Opposition because they sit on the benches opposite the Government in the Commons.

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