Public Reading of the Children and Families Bill

14 February 2013

The House of Commons has today launched a new web forum enabling members of the public to comment on the Children and Families Bill, which the Government presented to Parliament on 4 February 2013

The Bill would make changes to the law in areas including adoption, special educational needs, court proceedings concerning children, childcare and employment. A Committee of MPs will shortly be tasked with looking at the Bill in detail to consider whether any changes should be made to it before it becomes law. A summary of comments left on the web forum will be made available to MPs on the Committee so that they can take them into account when considering the Bill.

This will be the first time that the House of Commons has carried out a public reading and it will be a pilot to find out how best to run the process in future.The public reading will close on 26th February to allow time for comments to be collated and made available to MPs on the Bill Committee as it begins its work.

What is a public reading?

Public reading provides an opportunity for members of the public to comment on Bills during their passage through Parliament. A summary of the comments received will be made available to members of the Public Bill Committee which will examine the Bill in detail and decide whether to make any changes to it before it is made into law.

Rt Hon Lindsay Hoyle MP, Chairman of Ways and Means and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, has given his support to the House’s public reading pilot, describing it as:

“an exciting new opportunity for us to reach out to a wider cross-section of society and encourage more people to connect with Parliament during the legislative process."

Is public reading a new process?

This is the first time that the House of Commons has run a public reading. The Coalition Government has run pilot public readings for two Bills – the Protection of Freedoms Bill and the Small Charitable Donations Bill.

What will happen to my comment?

A summary of the key issues raised in online comments will be made available to members of the Public Bill Committee which will be responsible for scrutinising the Bill for them to take into account in their deliberations. This summary will be published on the Parliament website.

I have already commented on the draft Bill – why am I being asked to comment again?

Some clauses of the Bill were published in draft last year so that Parliament had an opportunity to scrutinise them and recommend changes before the Bill itself was presented to Parliament. You may have provided written evidence to one of the Select Committees which examined the draft clauses. Since the draft clauses were published changes and additions have been made and we are now inviting comments on the Bill itself.

Other ways to contribute

The Public Bill Committee will also be accepting formal written evidence on the Bill. Further information about submitting formal evidence will be made available on the Bill’s page on the Parliament website in due course.

Further information

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