Admissibility of amendments on third reading

29.65The practice of the House is normally to resolve major points of difference by the end of report stage, and to use third reading for tidying up the bill.

The principal purposes of amendments on third reading are:

  1. to clarify any remaining uncertainties;
  2. to improve the drafting; and
  3. to enable the Government to fulfil undertakings given at earlier stages of the bill.1

An issue which has been fully debated and voted on or negatived at a previous stage of a bill may not be reopened by an amendment on third reading.2

Where the Legislation Office considers that amendments fall clearly outside the guidance, including, for example, amendments which are identical, or very similar, to ones tabled and withdrawn at Committee and Report where no ministerial undertaking was given, or amendments raising completely new major issues, it will advise the Lords Member concerned. If the Lords Member tables the amendments notwithstanding this advice, the Legislation Office sends notification of these amendments to all Members of the Usual Channels and to the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers. They may then draw the matter to the attention of the House; it is for the House itself to decide what action to take.


  1. 1. HL Deb (1980–81) 417, c 132. The third point is taken to allow other Members to follow up a ministerial undertaking.
  2. 2. LJ (1960–61) 358; ibid (1976–77) 821. The House has agreed that this rule should be strictly interpreted, HL Deb (1988–89) 504, cc 656–58. The rule has been disapplied by a motion moved by the Leader of the House to enable an amendment in the same terms as one negatived on report to be retabled at third reading, Defamation Bill, HL Deb (1995–96) 571, cc 1404–6.