Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Second Reading

The first bills in the new session got their second readings yesterday. In the Commons the European Union Finance Bill was given its second reading. As Hansard reports

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:—
The House divided: Ayes 312, Noes 215.

In the Lords the controversial Human Fertilisation and Embryology bill began its second reading - but the House was unexpectedly adjourned after a member of the House, Lord Brennan, collapsed moments after concluding his speech. After being given heart massage he was taken to Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital, where it is reported he is in a stable condition. The debate will be resumed on Wednesday.

The Cabinet Office's Guide to the Legislative Procedure says of 2nd Reading in the Commons -

The general principle of the Bill is debated. If a Bill fails to get a Second Reading, it can progress no further. The Opposition may choose not to vote against Second Reading, but retain major reservations about specific parts of the Bill. Immediately following Second Reading, the question on certain motions relating to proceedings on the Bill can be put forthwith:
· Programme Motion: usually includes provision for committal of a Bill (normally to a Standing Committee), determines the date by which the Standing Committee must report and specifies the number of days set aside in the House for remaining stages;
· Money Resolution: required if the Bill creates a charge on public funds;
· Ways and Means Resolution: required if the Bill imposes charges of certain kinds upon the people or makes certain provisions about borrowing or the use of receipts.

The purpose of the 2nd Reading in the Lords is the same, but there are some procedural differences. The main one being that "Second Readings are rarely opposed in the Lords and if Second Reading is to be opposed it is normal practice to give warning in the form of an amendment on the order paper. This can be in the form of a “reasoned amendment” or a motion to delay Second Reading for six months (which kills the Bill)."

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