Over the last few weeks Parliament has been settling back into the usual business routine after the Christmas recess. I have been involved in various debates in Parliament, challenging ministers on a wide range of topics, including refugees, the Armed Forces Covenant and end of life care – highlighting the excellent work done by our local hospices.
Part of the job of MPs is not only to debate and vote on laws in the House of Commons as you can see on BBC Parliament, but also to scrutinise the detail of the legislation. This is done in Public Bill Committees. Committees are named after the relevant Bill, and I have been involved in two so far. The first was the Education and Adoption Bill committee last summer, and I have just been part of the Childcare Bill Committee.
The committee carefully checks all the wording of the Bill, to make sure it is clear and that it implements what MPs hoped it would. I asked to be part of these committees, as part of my interest in young people and education.
The committee room is like a smaller version of the main chamber in the House of Commons, made up of MPs of different parties, reflecting the wider composition of MPs, with the governing party having a majority.
The committee hears evidence from government departments, organisations, members of the public and interested groups such as charities, as part of its consideration. We then go through each clause of the bill, debating any changes and proposing amendments. After this process, it is “reported” back to the House of Commons and will then be read for a third time.
The Bill then gets sent to the House of Lords for them to debate and scrutinise the wording, before going to the Queen for Royal Assent. Once it has received Royal Assent, it then becomes an Act of Parliament and becomes law.
The Childcare Bill will increase the number of hours of free childcare available to working parents, which will hopefully benefit many people across our constituency.