Under the standing orders of each House, every bill proceeds through three “readings”. The three readings are based on Westminster tradition which requires the House to agree to each stage before moving to the next stage. The term “reading” refers to the original requirement for the terms of a bill to be read out to members who would not have copies of the bill themselves.
The first reading stage is really a formality and it is very rare that there is any debate or division on the first reading. The second reading is the stage during which members debate the pros and cons of the bill.