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Members of the House of Lords discussed the second reading - general principles - of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Bill on 8 December.
The Bill implements the UK's international obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions - or cluster bombs - a type of explosive weapon which scatters submunitions over an area.
Separate articles in the Convention concern assistance to victims, clearance of contaminated areas and destruction of stockpiles.
Second reading is the first opportunity for Members of the Lords to debate the main principles and purpose of the Bill and to flag up concerns and areas where they think changes (amendments) are needed.
The Government minister, spokesperson or Member of the Lords responsible for the Bill opens the debate.
Any Member can speak in the debate so this stage can indicate those Members particularly interested in the Bill - or a particular aspect of it - and those who are most likely to be involved in amending the Bill at later stages.
After second reading the Bill goes to committee stage - where detailed line by line examination of the Bill and discussion of amendments takes place.
The first day of committee stage on this Bill is scheduled for 6 January 2010.
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