Public Bill Committees
What are Public Bill Committees?
Find out what Public Bill Committees are and how they support the work of Parliament, from evidence sessions to debates.
A Public Bill Committee is a committee set up by the House of Commons to examine the details of a particular Bill. All Bills, other than Money Bills, are automatically sent in a Public Bill Committee following their second reading unless they are committed to a Committee of the whole House. The composition of the committees must match the size of the parties in the House.
After the second reading of a bill, it is customary for the bill to be referred to a Public Bill Committee for further scrutiny.
Committees are named after the relevant Bill, e.g. the Equality Bill Committee. This makes it clear that the Committee is established purely to consider a particular bill.
Further information can be found through the House of Commons Library Background Paper: Public Bills
Public Bill Committees have the power to receive written evidence from outside organisations and members of the public, and to take oral evidence from interested parties, in the same way as Select Committees do, as part of their consideration of the Bill.
Anyone can submit written evidence to a Public Bill Committee. Further information on how to submit evidence is available.
Once the Committee has sat for the last time, no more evidence can be received.
The written evidence that the Committee decides to publish will be available on the internet as soon as possible after the Committee has started sitting, and will also be printed in hard copy at the end of the Committee's deliberations.
Public Bill Committees considering bills which have started in the Commons (i.e. those which have not yet been considered by the House of Lords) normally take oral evidence at the start of proceedings. The programme of witnesses to be heard in oral evidence is agreed by the Committee at its first meeting. Witnesses are likely to include related agencies, interested non-governmental organisations and lobby groups and even individuals with an interest.
All meetings of Public Bill Committees take place in public, except for a brief private session in which MPs on the committee discuss the line of questioning to witnesses.
Meetings will be recorded by Hansard, with the official record available the following day in hard copy and on the Parliamentary website.
Attending a Public Bill Committee evidence session
Anyone can attend to watch proceedings, and no notice need be given. Please note that seats cannot be reserved.
Debating the Bill
After the Committee has taken oral evidence, it goes through the bill, debating each clause of the Bill and any amendments proposed to the text. Once the Committee has gone through the Bill, it reports the Bill - in its amended form, if changes have been made - back to the House.