Insights Public Bill Committee calls for evidence on recommittal of certain clauses and schedules in the Online Safety Bill

On 5 December 2022, the Bill returned to the House of Commons for Report stage.

According to a Written Ministerial Statement dated 30 November 2022 made by Paul Scully MP, Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, the Government’s approach to the Bill has three main aims: (i) to strengthen the protections for children in the Bill; (ii) to ensure that adults’ right to legal free speech is protected; and (iii) to create a genuine system of transparency, accountability and control to give people more choice and power over their own accounts and experience.

The Minister said in the Statement that given the Bill’s stage of passage, it was not possible to make most of these changes at Report stage, as the amendments related to clauses that were debated on the first day of Report. Therefore, the Government wanted a limited number of clauses to be returned to a Public Bill Committee to allow the proposed changes to go through robust and thorough scrutiny in the Commons and provide for line-by-line scrutiny of the amendments. The recommitted clauses would then come back to the whole House for debate at a third day of Report stage, the Statement said.

Parliament voted to return the Bill to a Public Bill Committee on 5 December 2022 and an updated version of amendments has since been tabled.

The Public Bill Committee is expected to sit on 13 and 15 December 2022. Any parties interested in submitting written evidence on the clauses and schedules sent for recommittal are advised to do so before the Committee meets on 13 December 2022. For further information and for a link to the amendments, click here.