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Second reading

A second reading is the state of the legislative process where a draft of a bill is read a second time. In Westminister systems, a vote is taken in the general outlines of the bill before being sent to committee. In the United States practice as followed in both Congress and state legislatures, the second reading occurs after the bill has been vetted by committee and includes debate on amendments to the bill.

In Canada, second reading occurs in Parliament. Members debate and vote on the principle of the bill. The House may decide to refer the bill to a legislative, standing or special committee, or to a Committee of the Whole. Consideration by the appropriate parliamentary committee (clause-by-clause study of the bill). The Committee may summon witnesses and experts to provide it with information and help in improving the bill. The committee then reports the bill to the House clearly indicating any amendments proposed. House considers amendments by votes for or against them.

The different roles of the second reading are in part a reflection of the different powers of legislative committees. Legislative committees are far more powerful in the United States than in Westminister systems.

see also: first reading, third reading