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Passage of a Bill through the House of Lords

This video follows a Bill as it travels through the House of Lords and then between the two Houses in a process referred to as 'ping pong'.
So most Bills start in the House of Commons and when they’ve finished with it and it’s been through all the stages there, literally a hard copy is still walked up to the House of Lords wrapped up in ribbon. It gets brought into the Chamber and a government minister will stand up and read the long title, and this is known as the First Reading and the long title is a paragraph on the Bill which just sums up what that Bill is doing and then that hard copy of the Bill gets taken out of the Chamber and up to our office where we keep it safe.
So Second Reading is a debate and members take it in turns to stand up and talk about the subject, and it’s quite useful because they can also take the opportunity to tell the Government, “Well, this is what I think of your Bill, these are the bits I’m going to try and change later on”. Once we’ve received the Bill and once it’s had its Second Reading, then a Bill is open for amendments and members come into the Legislation Office and discuss with us the changes they’d like to make to the Bill. Then we put everything in the right order and print it up all ready for everybody to look at when it’s in the Chamber.
If at Second Reading lots of people disagree with the subject, then at the end they can have a vote and they can decide to throw out the whole Bill there and then. But that doesn’t tend to happen very often. My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into a committee on the Bill. Committee stage, everybody turns up and they go through the Bill line by line. And most of the amendments are a chance to try and work out what the Government’s thinking, what its policy is in an area, so people suggest changes just to see what the Government says about them and whether they’ll accept them or not. …Not Content, the Contents have it.
So the next stage is called Report Stage and this time they go through the Bill line-by-line again but the amendments are… they’re right down to the nitty gritty, these are changes that people really want to make, and so quite often we get more votes at Report Stage because people really want to push the Government and find out how many people agree with them. Questions, one is - what is the urgency to consider the Report Stage. The very last stage is called the Third Reading, and this is pretty much just a tidying-up, so if there’s been a big change earlier on which has lots of consequential little changes.
So after Third Reading, all the changes that have been made will be stuck in and/or crossed out, as the case may be. Then it’s wrapped up in red ribbon with a message saying “Dear House of Commons, here’s a Bill that the House of Lords passed, please will you consider it”. Message from the Lords… So ping pong is the point where a Bill is going backwards and forwards between the two Houses, and all they’re looking at are the areas where they can’t agree. So everything else that’s agreed is put to one side and on the areas where they can’t agree, they try and find a compromise.
So the House of Lords might say, “We don’t like this, what do you think of this instead?” and the Commons will either say “Yes”, or they might say “No, we don’t agree with that policy, but how about this compromise?”. And they’ll whittle it down until everybody’s agreed on the way forward. So when both Houses have finished the Bill then the last stage is that the Queen is asked to signify that she’s happy with it and when that happens, in both Houses the Speaker and the Lord Speaker stand up and announce that the Bill has been given its Royal Assent.
My Lords, I have to notify the House in accordance with the Royal Assent Act of 1967, that the Queen has signified her Royal Assent to the following Acts… When the message has come from Buckingham Palace saying that the Queen is happy, then the Bill goes off and the final copy is printed and it’s that copy that is taken up to the Parliamentary Archives and is the Official Record.
Although the stages of a Bill are broadly the same in both Houses, the way things are done in the House of Lords differs from the Commons in some respects.
This video gives an overview of a Bill’s journey through the House of Lords, and the negotiation that can follow between the two Houses as they consider each other’s amendments – a process sometimes referred to as “ping pong”.
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