Report stage and third reading of Defamation Bill

13 September 2012

The House of Commons held the report stage and third reading of the Defamation Bill on Wednesday 12 September. The Bill will be sent to the House of Lords for consideration.

Summary of the Bill

The aim of the Bill is to reform the law of defamation to ensure that a fair balance is struck between the right to freedom of expression and the protection of reputation. The Bill makes a number of substantive changes to the law of defamation, but is not designed to codify the law into a single statute.

Key areas:

  • includes a requirement for claimants to show that they have suffered serious harm before suing for defamation
    removes the current presumption in favour of a jury trial
  • introduces a defence of "responsible publication on matters of public interest"
  • provides increased protection to operators of websites that host user-generated content, providing they comply with the procedure to enable
  • the complainant to resolve disputes directly with the author of the material concerned
  • introduces new statutory defences of truth and honest opinion to replace the common law defences of justification. and fair comment.

Progress of the Bill

The Defamation Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 10 May 2012 and received second reading on 12 June 2012. The Bill was considered in a Public Bill Committee between 19 to 26 June 2012.

The report stage and third reading took place on 12 September 2012. The Bill has passed all its Commons stages and will now be sent to the House of Lords for consideration.

Keep up to date with all the proceedings and documentation, including amendment papers, on the Defamation Bill. Also find out how a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.

House of Commons Library analysis

The House of Commons Library produce briefing papers to inform MPs of key issues. The Library published briefing papers for second reading and a report on the committee stage.

Report stage proceedings

12 September 2012

MPs considered in the following order; New Clauses 1-2 and 4, Amendments 7, 5-6, and 8.

New Clause 1 was added to the Bill without a division.

New Clause 2 was defeated on a division (Ayes 198; Noes 273).

New Clause 4 was withdrawn.

Amendment 7 was defeated on a division (Ayes 204; Noes 276).

Amendments 5 and 6 were added to the Bill without a division.

Amendment 8 was defeated on a division (Ayes 202; Noes 276).

The Bill also recieved its third reading without a division and will now be considered by the House of Lords. 

Watch and read the proceedings on report stage and third reading and the views expressed by MPs on Parliament TV and in Commons Hansard.

Report stage and third reading

The report stage gives MPs an opportunity, on the floor of the House, to consider further amendments (proposals for change) to a Bill which has been examined in committee.

There is no set time period between the end of committee stage and the start of the report stage.

What happens at report stage?

All MPs may speak and vote, for lengthy or complex Bills the debates may be spread over several days. All MPs can suggest amendments to the Bill or new clauses (parts) they think should be added.

What happens after report stage?

Report stage is usually followed immediately by debate on the Bill's third reading.

What happens at third reading?

Debate on the Bill is usually short, and limited to what is actually in the Bill, rather than, as at second reading, what might have been included.

Amendments (proposals for change) cannot be made to a Bill at third reading in the Commons.

At the end of the debate, the House decides (votes on) whether to approve the third reading of the Bill.

What happens after third reading?

If the Bill started in the Commons it goes to the House of Lords for its first reading. If the Bill started in the Lords it will return to the House of Lords for consideration of any amendments the Commons have made.

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