After the second reading of a Bill in the House of Commons, it will usually be referred to a Public Bill Committee for further scrutiny. Committees are named after the relevant Bill, for example the Equality Bill Committee. These committees will often invite evidence from the public to help them effectively scrutinise the content of a Bill.
Public Bill Committee written evidence
Committees considering a Public Bill can request written evidence from outside organisations and members of the public. They can also hear oral evidence from interested parties, in the same way as select committees, as part of their consideration of a Bill.
Once the Public Bill 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 Committee oral evidence
Committees looking at a Public Bill usually take oral evidence at the start of proceedings, starting with evidence from the relevant minister or ministers and departmental officials. Further witnesses may also be called, in a programme which will be agreed by the Committee at its first meeting. These are likely to include related agencies, interested non-governmental organisations and lobby groups and individuals with an interest.
If you think you or your organisation should be considered to give evidence to a Public Bill Committee, your first point of contact should be the departmental officials responsible for the Bill.
Attending a Public Bill Committee evidence session
All meetings of a Public Bill Committee 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 usually available the following day in hard copy and on the Parliamentary website. 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 of Commons.