Lords private members' bills

19 October 2012

The House of Lords will today have a chance to debate aspects of two private members' bills, covering topics such as the inheritance rights of cohabitants and equality in arbitration

A private members' bill is a type of public bill (that affects the public) introduced by an individual member of the House of Lords.

Inheritance (Cohabitants) Bill

The bill would make significant changes to the rights of a cohabitant in the event of their partner’s death.

Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill

The bill covers arbitration and mediation services, particularly the application of equality legislation to such services. It also makes specific provisions about the protection of victims of domestic abuse.

What is second reading?

Second reading is the 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.

Before second reading takes place, a list of speakers for the second reading debate is opened and interested members add their names to it.

The government minister, spokesperson or a 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.

Second reading debates usually last for a few hours but sometimes stretch over a couple of days.

Next stage: Committee stage

Detailed line by line examination of the separate parts (clauses and schedules) of the bill takes place during committee stage. Any member of the Lords can take part.

It usually starts no later than two weeks after the second reading and can last for one to eight days or more.

The day before committee stage starts, amendments (changes) are published in a marshalled list - in which all the amendments are placed in order.

Amendments on related subjects are grouped together and a list (groupings of amendments) is published on the day.

During committee stage every clause of the bill has to be agreed to and votes on the amendments can take place. All proposed amendments can be discussed and there is no time limit, or guillotine, on discussion of amendments.

Further information

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