Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons

 Session 2005-06  9th November  2005          

Press notice No 1                         




The House of Commons Modernisation Committee is to conduct an inquiry into the way in which legislation is passed.  The inquiry will consider issues in the primary legislative process in the House of Commons, particularly in the light of recent developments.  The inquiry will address such questions as:

•How we can improve on communicating the content of bills to a wider public. How Parliament informs the public of the legislation it is considering.  What measures we need to put in place to encourage the public to contribute to procedures such as pre-legislative scrutiny.

•Has pre-legislative scrutiny resulted in better legislation?  Could its use be extended and, if so, what consequences would there be for the legislative process?

•Is there scope for modernising the work of standing committees, making them more effective in scrutinising the detail of bills and more accessible to the wider public (including organisations with an interest in the legislation)?  Would alternative models of scrutiny be more effective in some cases?

•How could proceedings at report stage and consideration of Lords Amendments be improved?

•What has been the impact of programming and carry-over on the Government's legislative timetable?  Could carry-over be used to establish a  more regular, less cyclical annual pattern of legislative business in the Commons?  Could programming be used more effectively to target scrutiny on the parts of a bill which most require it?

•How could more systematic use of post-legislative scrutiny contribute to improving existing legislation?  This is currently the subject of a Government-commissioned study by the Law Commission,  which is likely to report in Summer 2006. (For an outline of the Law Commisson proposals,see http//

•The impact of the procedures for waiting for, receiving, printing and distributing Lords Messages and related Motions and Amendments (i.e. "ping-pong") have on the House.  Is the fact that the House towards the end of a session has to suspend to wait for Lords messages the best use of Parliamentary time?

•The House has already adopted the use of deferred divisions in some areas, in response to previous recommendations from the Modernisation Committee.  Divisions are not deferred during proceedings on bills (or on certain other types of Motion).  Could the use of deferred divisions be extended?  Are there ways in which the timing and organisation of divisions could be made more predictable, reducing disruption to other aspects of Parliamentary work?

•The overall effectiveness of the recommendations from the First Report (1997) of the Modernisation Committee on The Legislative Process (HC 190, Session 1997-98, see links to Reports and Publications on these pages).

Please send written submissions to in Rich Text or MS Word format, or by post to the Clerk, Modernisation Committee, Journal Office, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA.  Submissions should address the points listed above (but need not address them all) and should be as concise as is consistent with conveying the relevant information.  It would assist the Committee if submissions were received by Thursday 30 March  2006, but they will still be accepted after this date.

Information about the Modernisation Committee, including its membership and the complete text of its previous Reports can be found by clicking on the links on these Committee's pages.