We have conducted pilot public reading stages for the Protection of Freedoms Bill and the Small Charitable Donations Bill, and an online consultation was conducted on the draft Care and Support Bill.
Following evaluation, I have today informed the House in a written ministerial statement that public reading stages will form part of a tool kit to consider legislation on a case-by-case basis. I hope we will continue to improve public engagement in the legislative process—for example, through pre-legislative scrutiny and evidence sessions in Public Bill Committees rather than by adopting a uniform approach to legislation.
I very much welcome my right hon. Friend’s response and congratulate him and his predecessor on the great innovations in this Parliament to make this place more relevant to the people who sent us here. I urge that we use the new tool in our tool kit as often as we can.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, with whom I share an appreciation of my predecessor. Over the past two and a half years, the House has made considerable progress in engaging the public directly with legislation. We can do that through a number of routes. Sometimes, pre-legislative scrutiny on draft legislation or evidence sessions before Public Bill Committees are very effective, and public reading stages are a further option. We do not want to specify in relation to any particular legislation that all those things must be applied, but we have the mechanisms to engage the public more fully.