Constitutional Reform Bill: Commons Committee fourth day

27 January 2010

The House of Commons held the fourth day of the Committee stage of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill. A fifth day is scheduled for 2 February

Summary of the Bill

This is a wide-ranging Bill covering a number of different policy areas. Many of the proposals have their origins in the 'Governance of Britain' Green Paper published in July 2007.

The content of the Bill as introduced varies in some significant ways from its draft version.

New chapters have been added to the Bill and the clauses on the Attorney General which were in the draft Bill have been dropped.

The Bill:

  • establishes a statutory basis for management of the civil service
  • introduces a new parliamentary process for the ratification of treaties
  • provides for the end of by-elections for hereditary peers
  • makes provisions to allow for the suspension, resignation and expulsion of Members of the Lords
  • introduces new rules on protests around Parliament
  • introduces new rules on time limits for human rights actions against devolved administrations
  • makes various provisions relating to judicial office holders, including the removal of the Prime Minister’s role in the process of appointing Supreme Court judges
  • establishes a new corporate structure for the National Audit Office and a limit to the term of appointment to the office of Comptroller and Auditor General
  • introduces measures designed to increase the transparency of financial reporting to Parliament

Committee of the whole House

When a Bill passes its second reading and is considered in detail, this usually takes place in a Public Bill Committee held outside the Chamber. These Committees -which are made up of between 16 and 20 MPs - reflect the political makeup of the House, so the government always has a majority.

But occasionally a Bill will be considered by a Committee of the whole House and this discussion takes place in the Commons Chamber itself, where all MPs can take part.

Any Bill can be referred to a Committee of the whole House, but the procedure is normally reserved for finance Bills and other important or controversial legislation.

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