How laws are made in the UK -The legislative process

Origin A bill may originate as a Green Paper (a document setting out options for legislation and inviting consultation) and/or a White Paper (a more detailed statement of the government's intentions) — but this whole stage is not compulsory.

First reading (in the Commons in this example) First compulsory stage. The bill is made available to MPs but is not debated or voted on at this stage.

Second reading Principle of the bill is debated and a vote may be taken if it is contested.

Committee stage Bill is scrutinised in detail by a public bill committee, formerly known as a standing committee, whose membership reflects the strength of the parties in the Commons. Amendments may be made at this stage if the government is prepared to accept them.

Report stage Whole House considers amendments made at the committee stage and may accept or reject them.

Third reading Amended bill is debated and voted on by the whole House.

House of Lords stages Bill goes through the same stages in the Lords, with the exception of the committee stage, which is carried out by the whole House. The Lords can propose amendments. The Commons has to decide whether to accept, reject or further amend these. The bill can go back and forth between the two Houses for up to a year before it becomes law, in a process popularly known as 'parliamentary ping pong'.

Royal assent Monarch signs the bill, making it law. This stage is a formality as the sovereign is a constitutional monarch, who would not get involved in politics by refusing to sign a bill.