COMMONS

Procedure Committee proposes new approach to explanatory statements on amendments

25 February 2013

In a report published today, the Procedure Committee invites the House to expand the tabling of explanatory statements on amendments to all bills at both Committee and Report stage from the start of the 2013–14 Session.

Permissive approach

There have been several previous pilots of explanatory statements. During the current session, MPs have been permitted to table explanatory statements to two bills.

Having evaluated the pilot on the basis of criteria agreed between the Committee and the Leader of the House, the Committee concludes that the time has come to end the experimental approach and allow the culture of explanatory statements to embed itself, in a permissive environment where space is provided to backbench Members, the Government and the Opposition to ensure that explanatory statements become an accepted norm of the legislative process.

The Committee considered the possibility of imposing a mandatory requirement at some or all stages, but concluded that to do so would risk restricting Opposition and backbench MPs from tabling amendments and would therefore be damaging to the House’s ability to scrutinise legislation.

Chair of the Committee

Charles Walker MP, Chair of the Procedure Committee, said:

“Explanatory statements enhance our ability to scrutinise legislation, unpacking complex or technical amendments and so opening up the legislative process to the wider public, as well as providing greater focus for Members’ arguments during debates.

“I hope that colleagues will take advantage of a widespread permissive approach, and allow explanatory statements to become part of the fabric of the House’s scrutiny processes.”

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