A bill in the house of commons has a first and a second reading. The second reading involves the members of parliament.

Does the second reading being finished imply that the bill has been read out loud to the members of parliament?

If that is not the case, does it imply that all of the MPs that will vote on it have read it by themselves?

Or that they should have read it implicitly in some formal way?

  • 2
    Once upon a time, yes (though I haven't yet been able to find a source to confirm this). Nowadays, no. It's not possible to assume that all MPs have read a bill; regardless, they may be told how to vote by their respective party whips. Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 14:53
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    @VolkerSiegel You should note that there is also a third "reading".
    – origimbo
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


Not in the least, to all three questions. In the case of a number of bills it would take longer than Parliament sits in a day to read through the whole thing.

The phrase is basically a formality, and all it actually signifies is that the Member in charge of the bill is scheduled (but may in the end decide not) to move "That the bill be now read a second time"

As in all Parliamentary questions; see Erskine May.

A Bill does have to have been printed by the Public Bill Office before it's allowed to be brought to the House for its second reading - see Erskine May 28.20. This must happen before the house rises on the day before the bill is scheduled to receive its second reading.

  • Is it worth noting that MPs don't even have to be in the debate chamber to vote (if the question leads actually leads to a division)?
    – origimbo
    Commented Oct 22, 2019 at 16:14

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