Lifecycle of the Organic Targets Bill
STAGE 1: Adoption of the Bill by an MP
At the beginning of each parliamentary session a Ballot takes place to select the 20 MPs with a good chance of getting a Bill into law - the top seven have the best chance. In November 1999 Paul Tyler MP (Lib Dem, North Cornwall) came 16th in the Ballot and adopted the Organic Food and Farming Targets Bill. In November 2000 Simon Thomas MP (Plaid Cymru, Ceredigion) came up in the ballot and adopted the Bill.
STAGE 2: The House of Commons
First Reading: usually a formality - the title of the Bill is read out and a date is set for the Second Reading.
Second Reading: a debate on the principle of the Bill, not the detail.
Standing Committee: if the Bill passes its Second Reading it goes to a Standing Committee of about 17 MPs. The Bill is debated in detail, line-by-line and amendments made.
Report Stage: the Standing Committee reports back to the whole House. Bills can often fail at this stage as amendments tabled have to be debated at length, and the House has to agree on each individual amendment. If an opposing MP decides to delay or "filibuster" this may result in the Bill running out of time and failing to become law.
The Third Reading: a debate on the principle of the Bill.
STAGE 3: House of Lords
After passage through the Commons, the Bill goes through the same process in the Lords. The only change in procedure is that the Standing Committee is usually the whole House and amendments can be tabled at the Third Reading.
Lords amendments: If a Bill is not amended in the Lords it goes straight for Royal Assent. However if the Lords make amendments the Bill goes back to the Commons, where only the Lords' amendments may be discussed.