BILL WATCH 46/2022
[27th September 2022]
Third Reading of Bills : Clarification of Bill Watch 45/2022
In our Bill Watch 45/2022 of the 23rd September, we suggested that the PVO Amendment Bill might be debated and even amended at its Third Reading Stage in the National Assembly. We said it was not against Standing Orders for Members to move amendments to a Bill at the Third Reading Stage.
That statement needs to be clarified because at the Third Reading Stage the right to debate a Bill and move amendments to it is more limited than we suggested.
The National Assembly’s Standing Orders don’t deal with the point, but according to the parliamentary “bible”, Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice:
· Debate at a Third Reading must be confined to the contents of the Bill; in other words, it cannot extend to broad issues of policy, and
· Only verbal amendments – i.e. alterations or corrections of individual words – may be made to a Bill on the Third Reading. If material amendments are to be made, the Bill must be re-committed to the Committee Stage.
So at the Third Reading of the PVO Amendment Bill, Members may debate the contents of the Bill if they so wish, but cannot move substantive amendments to it. If they want to amend the Bill substantively they must get the House to resolve to recommit the Bill.