8. Public bills
Stages of a public bill
Successive stages of a bill to be taken on different days
Recommended minimum intervals between the stages of a bill
Introduction and first reading
Interests, matters sub judice and devolution
Procedure on introduction: Lords bills
Procedure on introduction: Commons bills
Bills brought up and published when Lords not sitting
Publishing of bills and explanatory notes
European Convention on Human Rights and environmental law
Notice of subsequent stages
Private members’ bills
Commons bills not taken up within twelve sitting days
Withdrawal of bills
Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee
Lords bills and Commons financial privilege
Opposition to second reading
Second reading agreed to with amendment
Motion for adjournment of second reading debate
Consideration in a second reading committee
Debate in Grand Committee before second reading
Tabling of amendments
Admissibility of amendments
Publishing of amendments
Rules of marshalling
Procedure on amendments
Grouping of amendments
Amendments moved en bloc
Proceedings in Committee of the whole House
Powers and duties of member in the Chair
Powers of Committee of the whole House
Procedure in Committee of the whole House
Clause stand part
Postponement of clauses
Preamble and long title
House resumed during committee stage
Conclusion of proceedings in committee
Report received immediately
Order of commitment discharged
Bill reported forthwith
Proceedings in Grand Committee
Other committee procedures for public bills
Special public bill committee
Bill committed to select or joint committee
Consideration in Committee of the whole House at later stages of bills
Amendments on report
Amendments grouped and en bloc
Opposition to clause or schedule
Rules of debate on report
Conclusion of proceedings on report
Third reading and passing
Notice of amendments
Admissibility of amendments
Further proceedings after third reading
Bill sent or returned to Commons
Consideration of Commons amendments
Initial Commons amendments to a Lords bill
Notice of consideration of Commons amendments
Response to Commons amendments
Tabling responses to initial Commons amendments to a Lords bill
Procedure on initial consideration of Commons amendments to a Lords bill
Commons amendments agreed to
Other outcomes of consideration of Commons amendments
Commons amendment agreed to with amendment
Commons amendment disagreed to
Further communications between the two Houses
Lords amendments and Commons financial privilege
Consent of the Crown
Record copies of Acts
Procedures which apply only to certain types of bill
Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949
8.1 Public bills in the House of Lords have five main stages:
- introduction and first reading;
- second reading;
- third reading and passing.
Further stages may also be necessary as a result of disagreement between the two Houses (see paragraphs 8.166–8.191).
8.2 Under SO 44, no two stages of a bill may be taken on one day, except if a bill is not amended in Committee of the whole House, in which case the report stage may be taken immediately. So, if it is intended to take more than one stage of a bill on one day, other than the report stage of a bill which has not been amended in Committee of the whole House, SO 44 must be suspended or dispensed with; SO 84 requires that notice of this must be given. If SO 44 is set aside, then manuscript amendments are permitted at third reading despite SO 47, unless the House provides otherwise.(1)
8.3 SO 84 also provides that on occasions of grave national emergency a bill may be passed through all its stages on one day without notice.(2)
8.4 The following minimum intervals between stages of public bills should be observed:(3)
(a) two weekends between first reading and the debate on second reading;(4)
(b) 14 days from second reading to the start of the committee stage;
(c) on all bills of considerable length and complexity, 14 days from the end of the committee stage to the start of report stage;
(d) three clear sitting days between the end of report stage and third reading.(5)
8.5 When these minimum intervals are departed from, notice is given by means of a § against the bill in House of Lords Business. However, such notice is not required when SO 44 has been suspended or dispensed with.
8.6 For any legislation subject to expedited procedures (‘fast-tracked’) the explanatory notes accompanying the legislation will contain a full explanation of the reasons for using a fast-track procedure.(6)
8.7 Reasonable notice should whenever possible be given for consideration of Commons amendments, taking into account the number and scale of amendments and the availability of papers relating to them.(7)
8.8 Subject to the following paragraph, any public bill which does not receive Royal Assent in the session in which it is introduced falls at the end of that session.
8.9 The two Houses have agreed that government public bills can be ‘carried over’ from one session to the next in the same way as private and hybrid bills, if they have not left the House in which they originated.(8) A bill originating in the Commons may also be carried over in the Lords if it has received pre-legislative scrutiny in either House.(9) In the Lords:
- eligibility of bills for carry-over is settled by informal discussion through the usual channels;
- bills are carried over by specific motions;(10)
- a Commons bill carried over in the Commons is treated in the same way as any other bill brought from the Commons;
- a bill that has been carried over falls if it does not reach the statute book by the end of the second session.
8.10 A bill carried over is re-introduced in its latest form, with updated explanatory notes and a new human rights statement. The carry-over procedure does not apply to public bills over a dissolution.
8.11 Any member may introduce a bill without notice and without leave.
8.12 A member wishing to introduce a bill should inform the Legislation Office not later than the working day before the day of introduction, and should discuss the bill with the Office in draft. The final text must be handed in to the Office before introduction. See paragraph 8.31 for the introduction of private members’ bills at the start of each session. New bills may be introduced on State Opening day only if it is the last sitting day before a weekend.
8.13 A full declaration of any interests relevant to a bill should be made at least on the occasion of the member’s first intervention at each stage of the bill’s progress. In the case of a bill, the subject-matter against which the relevance of an interest must be judged is the bill as a whole. Repetition of declarations of interest within committee and report stage is unnecessary. There may however be circumstances in which a further declaration is appropriate, for example if an interest which is tangential to the bill as a whole nevertheless has a strong relevance to a particular amendment.(11)
8.14 The rules governing matters before the courts (sub judice – see chapter 4) do not apply to bills or Measures or to proceedings on them.
8.15 The powers of the House to legislate on devolved matters are unaffected by the devolution legislation.(12)
8.16 The Government stated in 1998 that “Westminster would not normally legislate with regard to matters within the competence of … [a devolved] parliament without the consent of that parliament.”(13) This convention was later put into statute in respect of Scotland(14) and Wales.(15) Where it is more convenient for legislation on devolved matters to pass through the UK Parliament, the relevant devolved legislatures are invited to consider a Legislative Consent Motion by the relevant devolved administration. Decisions of the Scottish Parliament, Senedd Cymru or the Northern Ireland Assembly to pass (or reject) a Legislative Consent Motion on a bill before the House are indicated in the list of bills in progress in House of Lords Business. For ministerial statements before third reading, see paragraph 8.156.
8.17 A member who wishes to present a bill rises at the beginning of public business after oral questions and after any formal business or (exceptionally) at the end of the day’s public business,(16) and introduces the bill by saying:
“My Lords, I beg to introduce a bill to [long title of bill]. I beg to move that this bill be now read a first time.”
8.18 The Question is put from the Woolsack. The first reading of a bill is agreed to without dissent or debate, both as a matter of courtesy and because the House has no knowledge of the contents of the bill until it is published.
8.19 A bill may be introduced by a member on behalf of another member.
8.20 A bill which has been introduced in the Commons and which has passed through all its stages in that House is brought to the Lords by a Commons clerk with a message stating that the Commons have passed the bill. The message is read by the Clerk at the Table as soon as the item of business in progress has ended, and the first reading of the bill (whether a government bill or a private member’s bill) is moved immediately by a government whip.
8.21 The first reading of a bill brought from the Commons is agreed to without discussion, both as a matter of courtesy to the Commons and because at this stage no member has formally taken charge of it.
8.22 The member taking charge of a Commons bill should inform the Legislation Office.
8.23 A bill passed by the Commons may be brought to the Lords when the Lords are not sitting (whether adjourned during pleasure or for the day(17)). Under SO 49, if it is for the convenience of the House, it is deemed to have been brought from the Commons on that day and the bill and any explanatory notes may be published before first reading.
8.24 After the first reading of a bill an order is made for the bill and any explanatory notes to be published. By convention, Supply and Appropriation Bills are not printed for the Lords. On occasion other bills may not be republished, including bills which are to be taken through the House urgently.
8.25 A bill introduced in the Lords is endorsed with the name of the member of the House who has introduced it. It is not the practice to add other names. A bill brought from the Commons is not endorsed with the name of the member taking charge of the bill.
8.26 For most government bills explanatory notes are produced by the responsible department at the time the bill is introduced. Such notes include the legal and policy background, and the financial implications of the bill. Notes must be neutral in tone and must not seek to promote the bill or the policy underlying it.(18) Explanatory notes are also produced for Commons amendments to Lords bills. In some cases departments may prepare notes for private members’ bills, with the consent of the member in charge of the bill, whose authority must be communicated to the Legislation Office before the notes can be published. Explanatory notes may also be produced by private members themselves: members should submit a draft to the Legislation Office before introduction in order to ensure that these are in proper form. For many bills, the Government also produce separate impact assessments, outlining economic, social and environmental impacts of the policy.
8.27 Under s. 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 the minister in charge of a government bill must make a statement before second reading as to whether in their view the provisions of the bill are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, and publish the statement in such manner as they consider appropriate.(19) The statement is usually set out on the cover page of a bill as first published for each House; where bills are not published for the Lords the statement is publicised by means of a written statement.
8.28 Under s. 20 of the Environment Act 2021, the minister in charge of a government bill must make a statement before second reading if in their view the bill contains provision which, if enacted, would be environmental law, and publish the statement in such manner as they consider appropriate. The statement is usually set out on the cover page of a bill as first published for each House; where bills are not published for the Lords the statement is publicised by means of a written statement.
8.29 Scheduling of business is co-ordinated by the office of the Government Chief Whip. The member in charge of a bill gives notice of a date for each stage in House of Lords Business.
8.30 Any member may move any stage of a bill on behalf of the member in charge of the bill (with their authority or unanimous leave – see paragraph 3.41). Bills, once introduced, are in the possession of the House and not in the sole ownership of the member in charge.(20)
8.31 A ballot is conducted to determine the order of private members’ bills to be introduced at the beginning of each session in accordance with the following procedure. The ballot is held two working days after State Opening. Members submit a long and short title to the Legislation Office by 4pm on the previous working day (i.e. the day after State Opening), but a full text is not necessary. Ballot entries may be submitted before State Opening. No more than 25 bills are drawn from the ballot. Two bills are introduced each sitting day in the order that they are drawn, beginning a week after the ballot. Bills and any explanatory notes are published in order of introduction, subject to readiness and not necessarily straight after introduction. A bill may be published with a long title which is wider than the scope of the bill, but not vice versa.(21)
8.32 A member who wishes to enter the ballot should discuss drafting with the Legislation Office well before the day of State Opening. A member may enter only one bill into the ballot, and a member may not submit for entry to the ballot a bill of identical or substantially similar effect to a bill already entered. A member may use a first reading ‘slot’ determined by the ballot to introduce only the bill entered into the ballot. The ‘slot’ may not be handed to another member.
8.33 After all the first reading slots allocated by the ballot have been taken or lapsed, members may introduce bills in the usual way (see paragraph 8.12). Such bills are prepared for introduction on a first come-first served basis, with a queue opening at 10am the working day after the last ballot bill is published (or not proceeded with), and introduced when ready for publication.
8.34 There is no procedural distinction between government bills and private members’ bills, save in respect of carry-over, human rights and environmental law statements, and third reading statements about legislative consent. In practice the House normally accords priority to proceedings on government bills except where private members’ bills are not expected to give rise to debate. But there is no concept of government or private members’ ‘time’ in the Lords, nor any specific time when government or private members’ bills are taken.
8.35 Under SO 48, if a bill brought from the Commons remains for twelve sitting days without any member giving notice of a date for second reading, it cannot be proceeded with except after eight days’ notice. Motions to dispense with SO 48 have been agreed to.(22)
8.36 A Commons bill may not be withdrawn in the House of Lords.
8.37 At any time after first reading, a bill originating in the House of Lords may, with the agreement of the House, be withdrawn by the Lord who presented it. This may be achieved by the member in charge of the bill, having moved the motion for a stage of the bill, begging leave to withdraw that motion. Unanimous leave of the House is required for any motion to be withdrawn, so a single dissenting voice prevents leave being given and the Question must in that case be put and decided. The granting of leave to withdraw a stage of a bill is treated as withdrawal of the bill, unless the member in charge indicates that they intend to proceed with the bill on another day.
8.38 If a bill is between stages, a separate motion, of which notice is given, should be tabled, “That the bill be withdrawn”. Such a motion does not require unanimous agreement.
8.39 All bills other than consolidation and supply bills are considered by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which reports to the House in relation to any delegated powers they contain. These reports are highlighted by means of an italic note against a bill in House of Lords Business. The Committee aims to report before committee stage; the House is under no obligation to delay proceedings if the Committee has not reported by that time. If time allows, the Committee may also report on government amendments, if these involve significant delegated powers.(23)
8.40 The Constitution Committee examines the constitutional implications of all public bills coming before the House. The Committee aims to report before committee stage; the House is under no obligation to delay proceedings if the Committee has not reported by that time. Constitution Committee reports may be highlighted by means of an italic note against a bill in House of Lords Business.
8.41 Government bills published in draft may be considered and reported on, before they are introduced, by a select or joint committee appointed for that purpose. At least 3–4 months (excluding long recesses) are normally required to hear evidence and report. Such ‘pre-legislative scrutiny’ does not eliminate any stages when the bill itself is considered by the House.
8.42 Under Commons SO No. 80, a Lords bill which would impose or alter a charge upon the people (i.e. taxation) or upon public funds (i.e. spending) requires a privilege amendment (see paragraphs 8.158–8.159); and a Lords bill which would do so as its main object may proceed in the Commons only as a government bill. A supply bill (‘bill of aids and supplies’) cannot start in the Lords.
8.43 The second reading is the stage at which the general principles of the bill are considered. The member in charge says “My Lords, I beg to move that this bill be now read a second time” and makes the case for the bill. In debate, other members may indicate, in general terms, how the bill might be amended, but discussion of points of detail should normally be left to the committee stage.
8.44 A bill may be opposed on second reading by an amendment to the effect “That this House declines to give the bill a second reading.” The amendment may add a reason (a ‘reasoned amendment’). The agreement of the House to such an amendment, with or without a reason, means rejection of the bill. The Question as amended is not put, and the bill is removed from the list of bills in progress in House of Lords Business.
8.45 It is possible to oppose the motion “That this bill be now read a second time”, without tabling an amendment, but this is uncommon, because notice of such opposition, which is desirable in the interests of good order, cannot be given on the order paper.
8.46 Amendments may be moved which do not seek to negative the second reading but invite the House to put on record a point of view in agreeing to it.
8.47 Notice is required on the order paper of any amendment to the motion for second reading. If notice has been given of more than one amendment, they are dealt with in the order in which they relate to the motion, or, if they relate to the same place in the motion, in the order in which they were tabled. In such cases it is usual for the whole debate to take place on the first amendment, and for the members who tabled the other amendments to speak in this debate. When the debate is concluded, the Question is put on each amendment successively. The Question on the original motion or on the original motion as amended is then finally put and decided.
8.48 A second reading debate may be adjourned, with or without notice or reasons. A motion to adjourn the debate, if agreed to, does not prevent the motion for the second reading being put down for a subsequent day.
8.49 Second reading debates on certain Law Commission bills are held in a second reading committee.(24) Following first reading, a motion is tabled, with at least three sitting days’ notice, to refer the bill to a ‘second reading committee’. The committee, which has unlimited membership and functions like a Grand Committee, debates the bill with no formal time limit,(25) and reports to the House that it has considered it. The second reading motion is then normally taken without debate in the House, though it remains possible, in the event of opposition, for amendments to be tabled or a vote to take place on the motion. Such Law Commission bills are normally committed to a special public bill committee (see paragraph 8.119).
8.50 With agreement of the House, bills may be referred to Grand Committee for debate before second reading.(26) Such agreement is sought through a business of the House motion of which the usual notice is given on the order paper. The House is then invited to give the Bill a formal second reading in the Chamber, any time from the next sitting day. An italic notice of this may appear in House of Lords Business once a Business motion is agreed, and formal notice is annotated “(Debated in Grand Committee on [date])”. It is not expected that this will be the occasion of further debate, but any member may speak(27) and amendments to the motion may be tabled. It is not expected that this procedure will be used frequently. Any such debate requires consultation with the usual channels and agreement by the House. It is expected that this procedure will be more appropriate for shorter, less complex and less controversial bills. Where a speakers’ list is expected to exceed the capacity of the Moses Room, the procedure is unlikely to be appropriate. The rule that no more than one bill may be considered in Grand Committee on a single day applies. Debate in Grand Committee counts as part of second reading for the purposes of Standing Orders 44 (no two stages on one day) and 48 (notice of second reading of Commons bills). Second reading debates are not formally time limited but the overall time limit for Grand Committee applies; if it is reached, debate is adjourned. Amendments to the bill may not be tabled until after formal second reading.
8.51 After second reading, either immediately or at a later date, bills are committed to a committee on a motion in the name of the member in charge. Bills are usually committed to a Committee of the whole House or a Grand Committee. The forms of words are “That this bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House” or “to a Grand Committee”.
8.52 Any bill may be committed to a Grand Committee, but bills which are unlikely to attract amendments and which would have their committee stage discharged on the day of the committee stage are not committed to Grand Committees.
8.53 It is in order for parts of a bill to be committed to a Committee of the whole House and parts to a Grand Committee.(28) In such cases the two committees must sit consecutively; usually the Committee of the whole House sits first and reports the part of the bill committed to it before the Grand Committee meets. Separate amendment sheets and marshalled lists are published for each set of proceedings. When both committees’ proceedings are concluded an order is made that the bill be republished as amended.
8.54 In certain cases bills may be committed to other types of committee. These include special public bill committees and select committees, which are described at paragraphs 8.114–8.130.
8.55 The House sometimes wishes, after committing a bill to one kind of committee and possibly making some progress, to commit it to another instead. The motion is “That [the bill be reported from the [original committee] in respect of proceedings up to [Clause x, amendment y or date]; and that] the order of commitment of [date] be discharged and [the remainder of] the bill be committed to a [new committee].”(29)
8.56 In order to save the time of the House, supply bills and money bills are not usually committed. This is the invariable practice in the case of supply bills and the normal practice for money bills.(30) Immediately after the second reading the member in charge moves “That this bill be not committed” and the Question is put. If it is agreed to, the next stage is third reading. A bill which has not been committed is described as having had its committee stage ‘negatived’. If Committee negatived is intended for a bill which is not a supply or money bill, SO 47 must be dispensed with and an italic notice to this effect is put on the order paper.(31)
8.57 Instructions to any committee on a bill may be moved after second reading.
8.58 Instructions may be either mandatory or permissive. The most common mandatory instruction directs the committee to consider the clauses and schedules in an order other than that of the bill. Permissive instructions enable a committee to do something that it could not otherwise do, such as divide a bill into two.
8.59 Amendments may be moved in committee, on report and on third reading. The following section describes the general procedure for dealing with amendments. Issues specific to particular stages are described in the sections relating to those stages.
8.60 Amendments may be tabled with the Legislation Office at any time after the conclusion of the preceding stage of the bill. When second reading and committee stage are expected to take place on the same day, or in other situations by agreement, amendments are accepted before second reading. The late tabling of amendments is strongly deprecated since members have only a limited time to consider them and, if necessary, move amendments to them.(32) Amendments, like bills, are drafted in a gender-neutral way so far as practicable.
8.61 Amendments to be published the next working day(33) should be tabled between 10am and 4pm on any working day. Amendments may be tabled with the duty clerk during recesses, between 10am and 4pm.
8.62 At committee and report stages and third reading, members may add an explanatory statement of up to around 50 words to each of their amendments or notices of intention to oppose clause stand part. The practice is voluntary and quite often may be unnecessary. Such statements should neutrally describe the intended effect of the amendment or the purpose for which it has been tabled. They should not be phrased as an argument for its adoption. Where more than one member has signed an amendment, any explanatory statement is attributable to the lead member, who is solely responsible for authorising its content and any subsequent changes. The Legislation Office will assist with drafting explanatory statements but the accuracy of the content is the responsibility of the lead member.(34)
8.63 Explanatory statements may be used to indicate whether a member believes their amendment is linked to or consequential on another. However, such statements merely express the member’s view on the matter, which will ultimately be a decision for the House. An explicitly stated link between two amendments may affect whether an amendment is subject to the ‘decided issue’ rule for third reading amendments (see paragraph 8.153). For amendments at third reading, explanatory statements may be used to indicate how the amendment fulfils one of the three principal purposes of such amendments (see paragraph 8.152).
8.64 Explanatory statements are printed immediately after the amendment to which they relate on any daily sheet of amendments and on each relevant marshalled list. Statements added after the amendment has been published, or subsequently amended, are not normally published until the next marshalled list. Explanatory statements are not starred.
8.65 The House observes the following general rules regarding the admissibility of amendments:
(a) amendments must be relevant to the subject matter of the bill(35) and amendments to a clause or schedule must be relevant to the clause or schedule to which they are proposed;
(b) amendments proposed at any stage must not be inconsistent with a previous decision taken at that stage,(36) except where alternative amendments are proposed to the same place in the bill;
(c) amendments to a schedule are not in order if they go beyond the scope of, or are contrary to, the relevant clause which has been agreed to;
(d) amendments to the long title are not in order unless they are to rectify a mistake in the original title, to restate the title more clearly or to reflect amendments to the bill which are relevant to the bill but not covered by the former title;
(e) clause headings, and headings placed above parts of the bill or above groups of clauses, are technically not part of the bill and so are not open to amendment. Punctuation is also technically not part of the bill.
8.66 The subject matter or scope of a bill represents the reasonable limits of its collective purposes, as defined by its existing clauses and schedules. Where a bill has one or two purposes, only amendments relating to those purposes, or touching on matters closely connected with them, are relevant. Where a bill has three or more purposes, amendments directed to objects not specifically covered by the bill, but broadly germane to its subject-matter, may be relevant. A bill’s scope is not determined by its titles or altered by things said in debate or amendments to the motion for second reading. Instructions to extend the scope of a bill (that is, to make admissible amendments which would otherwise be excluded by the rules of relevance) are not in order.(37)
8.67 The Legislation Office advises on whether an amendment is admissible and it is expected that this advice will be taken. If a member insists on tabling an amendment which the Legislation Office has advised is inadmissible, that Office writes to the Leader of the House, copying the advice to the other leaders, the chief whips and the Convenor. The Leader of the House draws the House’s or Committee’s attention to the advice as soon as the amendment is called, and asks the member and the House or Committee to endorse the advice of the Legislation Office. The reason for this is that the admissibility of an amendment can ultimately be decided only by the House or Committee itself, there being no authority that can in advance rule an amendment out of order. If the amendment is moved and pressed, the House decides in the usual way; there is no separate decision on admissibility.
8.68 Tabling amendments to bills originating in the House of Commons is unprofitable if such amendments appear to be material and intolerable infringements of Commons financial privilege, in that they impose a charge not covered by the terms of the money or Ways and Means resolutions in the Commons, unless there is reason to believe that the Commons will pass a supplementary financial resolution (see paragraph 8.192). Advice may be obtained from the Legislation Office.
8.69 All amendments to a particular bill tabled on the same day are published overnight and are not numbered at this stage. The names of members supporting an amendment appear above it, up to a maximum of four names, or five if the member in charge of the bill adds their name.(38)
8.70 Subject to the rules listed below, amendments are published in the order of their page, line and word references in the bill, taking account of any instruction that has been tabled. The rules are as follows:
(a) amendments to any preamble and the long title, in that order, are taken last;
(b) amendments to leave out words take precedence over amendments to leave out the same words and insert others;
(c) amendments to leave out a shorter block of text (e.g. lines 1–5) take precedence over amendments to leave out a longer block of text (e.g. lines 1–20);
(d) amendments to leave out any block of text other than a complete clause or schedule come before amendments to that text;
(e) amendments to a clause or schedule are considered before an amendment to leave out a clause or schedule and substitute another;
(f) because each clause and schedule must be stood part of the bill in committee, a proposal to leave out a clause or schedule in committee is not tabled as an amendment, but a statement of intention to oppose the Question that the clause or schedule stand part of the bill. Notice is usually given of such intention in italics, without being numbered, on the marshalled list. On report and third reading an intention to leave out a clause or schedule is indicated by tabling an amendment;(39)
(g) the Question that the clause or schedule stand part of the bill or (on report or third reading) an amendment to leave out the clause or schedule is considered after all amendments to the clause or schedule (including an amendment to leave out the clause or schedule and substitute another);
(h) at committee stage, amendments to divide a clause or schedule are taken after the clause or schedule has been stood part of the bill;(40)
(i) at committee stage, amendments to transpose a clause or clauses, or part of a clause or schedule, to another place in the bill are taken after the clause or schedule (or the last of the affected clauses or schedules) has been stood part of the bill;(41)
(j) amendments to insert a new clause are considered at the place in the bill where it is proposed that the new clause is to be inserted;(42)
(k) amendments to amendments are marshalled immediately after the original amendment, in the order in which they relate to the text of the original amendment;
(l) where alternative amendments are tabled to the same place in the bill, they are marshalled in the order in which they are tabled, except that priority is given to an amendment tabled by the member in charge. Where it is not possible to determine the order of tabling, the Legislation Office may devise another method, e.g. a ballot, to determine the marshalling order. If a logical order applies, it may be followed, starting with the amendment closest to the existing text. A decision may be taken on each amendment in turn notwithstanding SO 46, even if the second amendment is in substitution for the first amendment to which the House or committee has already agreed.
8.71 Accordingly amendments are marshalled as follows:
1. Page 1, line 5, leave out subsection (1)
2. Page 1, line 5, leave out subsection (1) and insert— “(1) —”
3. Page 1, line 6, leave out “word”
4. Page 1, line 6, leave out “word” and insert “words”
5. Page 1, line 6, after “word” insert “usually”
6. Page 1, line 7, leave out “4” and insert “5”
7. Page 1, line 7, leave out “4” and insert “6”
8. Page 1, line 7, leave out “4” and insert “7”
(If amendment 6 is agreed to, the Question is put on amendment 7 thus:
“Page 1, line 7, leave out “5” and insert “6””
and on amendment 8 thus:
“Page 1, line 7, leave out “5” [or “6”] and insert “7””.)
9. Leave out Clause 1 and insert the following new Clause—“[text of new Clause]”
10. Lord A gives notice of his intention to oppose the Question that Clause 1 stand part of the bill [at committee] or
Leave out Clause 1 [at report or third reading]
11. Transpose Clause 1 to after Clause 46
At committee and report stages
8.72 Two working days before consideration of a bill is due to take place, all amendments are numbered and published as a ‘marshalled list’, arranged in the order they will be considered, taking account of any instruction. If further amendments are tabled on the day before the day of consideration they are published on supplementary sheets or are incorporated in a revised marshalled list. Any amendments not previously published, and amendments altered since they were last published, are marked with a , but are otherwise treated identically to other amendments.(43) When the stage is not completed in one day, further amendments may be tabled, which are published on sheets supplementary to the marshalled list and on further marshalled lists. Once published in a marshalled list, an amendment cannot be withdrawn before it is called, unless the list is reissued for a further day.(44)
At third reading
8.73 Marshalled lists for third reading are produced in the same way as those for committee and report, except that amendments must be tabled by the working day before the stage. The list is usually published on the day of the stage.
8.74 Whenever possible, amendments should be tabled in time for inclusion in the marshalled list. However, except on third reading,(45) it is in order to move, as manuscript amendments, amendments of which notice has not been given on the marshalled list or on a supplementary sheet. Occasionally a manuscript amendment is justified, even in the course of debate, for instance to correct an amendment already tabled or when an amendment under consideration is objected to and it is clear that with slight alteration of language it would become acceptable. However, manuscript amendments should rarely be moved, since other members of the House will not have had an opportunity to consider them and may be deprived of the opportunity of moving amendments to them.
8.75 When a manuscript amendment is moved, the text of the amendment is read out both by the mover and by the member on the Woolsack or in the Chair when putting the Question. The member on the Woolsack may, with the leave of the House, dispense with this requirement if the amendment is very lengthy.
8.76 There is no selection of amendments. The clauses in the bill are proceeded with in sequence, unless an instruction varying the sequence has been agreed to. Each amendment on the marshalled list and each manuscript amendment is called in turn by the member on the Woolsack or in the Chair, subject only to pre-emption (see paragraph 8.80). An amendment which has been tabled need not be moved, but if none of the members named as supporters of the amendment moves it any other member may do so.(46)
8.77 After the member moving the amendment has spoken the member on the Woolsack or in the Chair puts the text of the amendment to the House or the committee. The debate on the amendment follows, at the end of which the member who moved the amendment either begs leave to withdraw it or invites the House or committee to agree to it. The member on the Woolsack or in the Chair must put the Question that the amendment be agreed to if the member who has moved the amendment does not beg leave to withdraw, or if leave to withdraw is not unanimous. For remote participation by eligible disabled members, see paragraph 4.36.
8.78 Amendments to amendments are taken after the original amendment has been moved and put for the first time. When any such amendments have been disposed of, the Question on the original amendment, or the original amendment as amended, is decided. If the original amendment is not moved, amendments to it are not called.
8.79 If a member whose amendment is called wishes to speak, other than to say “Not moved”, he or she must move the amendment, and the member on the Woolsack or in the Chair must put it to the House or committee. This allows others to speak too. It is not in order to make a detailed speech and then to say “Not moved”.
8.80 If an amendment has been pre-empted by one previously agreed to by the House, e.g. because the text proposed to be amended has been left out of the bill, the amendment will not be called. The member on the Woolsack or in the Chair alerts the House to this possibility when calling the pre-empting amendment if it is expected to be moved, otherwise when putting the text of the pre-empting amendment after it has been moved.
8.81 In order to avoid repetition, related amendments are often grouped and debated together. Lists of such groupings are prepared by agreement between the members tabling the amendments and the Government Whips’ Office before each day’s proceedings commence on a bill. Groupings are informal but helpful to the House and de-grouping is discouraged once each day’s groupings have been published.(47) A single debate is then usually conducted on the whole group of amendments (not necessarily consecutive or in the same member’s name) when the first amendment in the group is called. But each amendment in the group must be called, moved (if desired) and disposed of separately at its place in the marshalled list. Proceedings on later amendments in a group are often formal but further debate may take place and an amendment previously debated with others in a group may be moved at its place in the bill.(48) When proceedings on later amendments in a group are formal, the amendments are moved as follows:
“My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.”
8.82 If the first amendment in a group is agreed to, it does not follow that the other amendments in the group will all be agreed to, unless they are directly consequential. It is a matter for the House or committee to judge in each case how the decision on the first amendment affects the others.
Effect of groupings on third reading amendments
8.83 A member who believes that an amendment at committee or report stage has been wrongly grouped should make this clear in debate. Otherwise, under the rule against reopening at third reading an issue which has previously been decided, members may be precluded from retabling the same or very similar amendments at third reading, if another amendment in the group was voted on or negatived at committee or report stage (see paragraph 8.153).(49)
8.84 Amendments may be moved formally en bloc (i.e. together) provided that:
- they appear consecutively on the marshalled list;
- at committee stage, they all relate to the same clause or schedule;
- they have already been spoken to; and
- no member objects.
8.85 If any member objects(50) to amendments being moved en bloc they must be moved separately to the extent desired. A vote cannot take place on amendments moved en bloc. Amendments may not be withdrawn en bloc. Practice is different at consideration of Commons amendments; see below.
8.86 A Committee of the whole House is, in fact, the House itself in a less formal guise. It is presided over from the Chair,(51) and conducts its business according to more flexible rules of procedure. It meets in the Chamber and any member may take part. Each proposed clause and schedule must be agreed to (‘stood part of the bill’) at Committee stage in order to proceed.
8.87 The member in charge of the bill moves, and the Question is put:
“That the House do now resolve itself into a committee upon the bill.”
8.88 This motion is sometimes used as an opportunity for a general discussion on the procedure to be followed in committee or on whether to go into committee at that time. The motion may be opposed by reasoned amendment or by an amendment to postpone the committee stage or to discharge the order of commitment and to commit the bill instead to another committee, though opposition to the motion seldom occurs. When the committee stage lasts more than one day, the motion moved on a subsequent day “That the House do again resolve itself into a committee upon the bill” may provide an opportunity to raise matters relating to the progress of the bill. The rejection of a motion to go into committee does not represent the rejection of the bill, but merely the rejection of the proposition that the bill be considered that day.
8.89 When the motion that the House go into committee has been agreed to, the member on the Woolsack leaves the Woolsack and takes the Chair at the Table of the House.(52)
8.90 The powers and duties of the member in the Chair are the same as those of the Lord Speaker or Deputy Speaker when the House is sitting (see paragraph 4.7). They are generally confined to the calling on of clauses, schedules and amendments and putting the Question. The member in the Chair also makes the formal report of the committee to the whole House. The member in the Chair (other than the Lord Speaker or Senior Deputy Speaker) may vote but does not have a casting vote.
8.91 A Committee of the whole House can only consider those matters which have been referred to it, including any instruction given by the House. Where a bill has been committed to a committee, the whole bill is the committee’s order of reference. A Committee of the whole House may interrupt its proceedings informally but has no power to take other business, adjourn the sitting or adjourn consideration of a bill to a future sitting; to do any of these the House must be resumed on motion.
8.92 SO 29, which forbids a member to speak more than once to any motion, does not apply when the House is in committee.(53) A next business motion (see paragraph 4.64) is not permitted.
8.93 As soon as amendments to each clause have been disposed of, the member in the Chair puts the Question that the clause (or the clause as amended) stand part of the bill. On this Question a general debate on the clause may take place. Any member who wishes to leave out the clause speaks to this Question. Warning of such opposition will normally have been given by means of an italic notice on the marshalled list, and if there is no italic notice any member who wishes to speak on ‘clause stand part’ should inform the member in the Chair. Once a clause has been disposed of, the committee cannot return to it and consider it further.
8.94 Where there are several consecutive clauses to which no amendment has been set down, the Question is put on all of them en bloc. If members wish to speak to one of these clauses or move a manuscript amendment they may do so when the clauses are called; but in this case they should warn the member in the Chair of their intention, and that clause will then be dealt with separately.
8.95 Clauses or parts may be postponed on a motion made to that effect of which notice has been given; they may also be postponed as the result of an instruction. A clause may be postponed without notice after consideration of it has begun but it may not be postponed if it has already been amended.
8.96 The schedules to the bill are considered in order after the clauses (unless there is an instruction to the committee to take them in a different order) and are dealt with in the same manner as clauses.
8.97 As soon as the clauses and schedules have been disposed of, the member in the Chair puts without any motion being moved the Questions on any preamble to the bill and on the long title. Amendments to the preamble and long title may be moved before each of these Questions is put.
8.98 Consequential or drafting amendments to the long title are frequently agreed to; no others are allowed (see paragraph 8.65). Preambles may be omitted in committee and also amended, and it is in order to insert a preamble in a bill where none exists.
8.99 If the committee stage is not completed at one sitting, it is necessary for a member (usually a government whip) to move “That the House be resumed”. When this motion has been agreed to, the member in the Chair leaves the Chair and goes to the Woolsack. The House goes into committee again either later on the same day (on occasions when the House has been resumed in order to take other business) or on a future day.
8.100 When it is agreed that there should be a break during a committee stage, and there is no other business to be taken, the House is not resumed and adjourned formally but the committee simply adjourns without Question put until a time announced by a government whip.
8.101 When the committee stage is resumed, the committee proceeds from the point in the bill where it left off.
8.102 When the committee stage is completed the member in the Chair states that the committee’s proceedings have concluded and that the House will now resume.(54) They then go to the Woolsack to report the bill to the House.(55) If the bill has been amended, an order is made for the bill to be republished as amended, and the report stage takes place (“the report is received”) on a later date.
8.103 If the bill is reported without amendment, the member in charge of the bill may immediately move “That this report be now received”. If this is agreed to, the next stage is third reading. It is, however, common for a separate report stage to be taken on a later date even when the bill has not been amended in committee.(56) This ensures that there is an opportunity to amend the bill before third reading.
8.104 If no amendments have been set down to a bill and it appears that no member wishes to move a manuscript amendment or to speak to any clause or schedule, the member in charge may move that the order of commitment (or recommitment) be discharged.(57) This motion may be moved only on the day the committee stage is set down for and notice must be given on the order paper.
8.105 The member in charge of the bill says:
I understand that no amendments have been set down to this bill, and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in committee.
Unless, therefore, any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.”
8.106 The Question is then put: “That the order of commitment be discharged.” If this Question is agreed to, the next stage of the bill is third reading.
8.107 If any member objects, however, this Question cannot be completed and the member in charge of the bill must at once move “That the House do now resolve itself into a committee upon the bill.” If this is agreed to, the House goes into committee in the usual way.
8.108 For the purposes of SOs 38(5) and 44, the discharge of the order of commitment constitutes a stage of a bill. Unless SO 44 has been suspended or dispensed with, third reading may not be taken on the same day as that on which the order of commitment has been discharged.
8.109 Where no amendment has been set down to a bill and no member of the House has indicated a wish to speak, but the order of commitment has not been discharged, the House goes into committee. The member in the Chair then says:
“[Short title]—My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to the bill, and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in committee. With the agreement of the committee, I will now report the bill to the House without amendment.”
8.110 Members who wish to speak to any of the clauses or schedules or to move a manuscript amendment should indicate their intentions on this Question, in which case the member in the Chair must put the clauses and schedules in the usual way. If no member indicates a wish to speak, the member in the Chair says “the House will now resume,” and returns to the Woolsack to report the bill.
8.111 The proceedings and forms of words for amendments and clauses in Grand Committee are identical to those in a Committee of the whole House save that no votes may take place. Normally only one bill per day may be considered in Grand Committee. Amendments, which may be tabled and spoken to by any member, are published and circulated as for Committee of the whole House.
8.112 As divisions are not permitted in Grand Committee, decisions to alter the bill may only be made by unanimity. Thus when the Question is put, a single voice against an amendment causes the amendment to be negatived.(58) If there is opposition to an amendment, it should be withdrawn, to enable the House to decide the matter on report. An amendment put to a decision by the mover and negatived may not be retabled at report. For the same reason the Question that a clause or schedule stand part cannot be disagreed to unless there is unanimity; provided there is a single voice in favour, the clause or schedule must be agreed to.
8.113 Unless the House orders otherwise, the next stage of a bill reported from a Grand Committee is report.
8.114 Certain other procedures have been developed to scrutinise public bills, either instead of or additional to proceedings in Committee of the whole House or Grand Committee. These include a special public bill committee, and a select or joint committee.
8.115 The purpose of these procedures is to enable more detailed examination of bills to take place, involving the hearing of evidence.
8.116 Unless the House orders otherwise, the next stage of a bill reported from a special public bill committee is report; but a bill reported from a select or joint committee is recommitted to a Committee of the whole House, unless the committee has recommended that the bill should not proceed.
8.117 Bills may be considered under these procedures only if the House has agreed to a particular order of commitment. It is usual for such a motion to be moved immediately after the second reading has been agreed to. However, a motion to commit a bill to a select or joint committee may be moved at any time before third reading; and a motion that the order of commitment to a Committee of the whole House (or to a Grand Committee) be discharged and that an alternative order be made may be moved any day before the committee stage begins. Notice is required of any such motion.
8.118 The members of a special public bill committee, or a select or joint committee, are subsequently appointed by the House on the recommendation of the Committee of Selection.
8.119 Special public bill committees are empowered to take written and oral evidence on bills before considering them clause by clause in the usual way. Uncontroversial Law Commission bills are normally committed to a special public bill committee,(59) but the procedure may also be used for any bill irrespective of the House of origin.(60)
8.120 A bill is committed to a special public bill committee by a motion moved after second reading by the member in charge. The membership of the committee is proposed by the Committee of Selection, and the Government have a majority over the other parties, with remaining places held by the Crossbench members. It has been the practice for the relevant minister and frontbench spokespeople from the other parties to be members. Any member of the House who is not a member of the committee may attend any public meeting of the committee, and may speak and move amendments, but may not vote.(61)
8.121 Unlike select committees empowered to take evidence, a special public bill committee is not normally given powers such as those to appoint advisers or to travel.(62) The committee may sit whether the House is sitting or not.(63)
8.122 The relevant government department produces with the bill a summary of the consultation undertaken, with an indication of representations received and changes made. The evidence-taking usually begins with the minister giving evidence, following which the minister rejoins the committee on the other side of the table. Special public bill committees must conclude their taking of evidence within a 28-day period beginning with the date on which they are appointed, excluding any adjournment of the House for more than three days.
8.123 Amendments may be tabled in the usual way at any time after second reading. There is an interval after the conclusion of the evidence taking, to enable members of the committee, and others, to table amendments. Notice of the proceedings is given on the order paper and amendments for consideration in such proceedings are published and circulated as for a Committee of the whole House. The committee then meets to consider any amendments tabled. Proceedings are not time-limited. The Senior Deputy Speaker may take the Chair for these proceedings if desired (but may not vote, not being a member of the committee).
8.124 Special public bill committees, when considering amendments, follow the procedure of a committee stage in the Chamber as closely as possible, including rules on remote participation. Members speak standing and, so far as they can, observe the same degree of formality as in the Chamber. The committee may vote on amendments and motions: if the Question cannot be decided by collecting the voices, the Clerk reads out the names of the members of the committee. Each member when their name is called replies “content”, “not-content” or “abstain”. If a division in the House is called the committee adjourns for 10 minutes.
8.125 If the bill is amended, it is published in the usual way. The committee does not publish a report: its outputs are the bill as amended, the verbatim report of its proceedings and the written and oral evidence that it has received.
8.126 A public bill (other than a consolidation bill which is referred automatically after second reading to the Joint Committee on Consolidation etc. Bills under SO 50) may be committed to a select committee or a joint committee when detailed investigation or the hearing of evidence is considered necessary or desirable. To achieve this a motion is moved that a bill be committed to a select committee or that a joint committee be appointed to consider the bill. Such a motion is usually moved immediately after second reading but is admissible at any stage before third reading. If the bill has previously been committed to a Committee of the whole House or Grand Committee, the order may be discharged and an order made to commit the bill instead to a joint or to a select committee. A motion may be tabled to commit a part of a bill to a select committee. If the bill is referred to a joint committee a message is sent to the House of Commons informing them and desiring their agreement.(64) A bill may be committed to a select committee on another bill.
8.127 The method of appointment and powers of the committee are the same as for a special inquiry committee on a general subject (see paragraph 11.3); but the bill forms the committee’s order of reference and defines the scope of the inquiry.
8.128 When the committee has completed its deliberations, it makes a report to the House on the provisions of the bill, recommending whether or not it should proceed. The committee usually gives reasons in a report similar to a report on a general subject. The committee has no power to put an end to the bill. If it considers that the bill should proceed, the committee reports it with such amendments as it thinks fit, and the bill is then recommitted to a Committee of the whole House in the form in which it has been reported. When a committee makes amendments, formal minutes of proceedings are required to record the amendments made. The minutes of proceedings serve as the authority for making the amendments and republishing the bill as reported. If the committee considers that it should not proceed, it reports the bill accordingly, without amendment.
8.129 When a select committee reports that a bill should not proceed, the bill is not recommitted to a Committee of the whole House. The bill remains in the list of bills in progress in House of Lords Business until the end of the session under the heading “Reported from the select committee that the bill should not proceed”. The House normally acquiesces in a report from a select committee recommending that a bill should not proceed, and no further proceedings on the bill take place. If a bill is to proceed, a motion, of which notice is required, has to be agreed that the bill be recommitted to a Committee of the whole House. A bill may also be recommitted to a committee which has reported that it should not proceed.(65)
8.130 If a committee is unable to complete its consideration of the bill, it makes a special report to that effect and reports the bill without amendment.
8.131 A bill which has been referred to a select or joint committee is, after being reported by that committee, recommitted to a Committee of the whole House unless the select or joint committee has reported that the bill should not proceed. Consolidation bills and hybrid bills are the most common examples of bills which are recommitted.
8.132 Other bills may, on motion (which is debatable and of which notice is required) moved at any time between committee and third reading, be recommitted to a Committee of the whole House or Grand Committee in their entirety, or in respect of certain clauses or schedules. This course is adopted when it is desirable to give further detailed consideration to the bill or certain parts of it without the constraints on speaking which apply on report and third reading; for instance:
- when substantial amendments are tabled too late in the committee stage to enable them to be properly considered;
- where there is extensive redrafting; or
- where amendments are tabled at a later stage on subjects which have not been considered in committee.
This procedure reserves to the report stage its proper function as an opportunity to review and perfect the bill as amended in committee.
8.133 A motion that the House resolve itself into a committee on recommitment on a bill may be debated and opposed in the same way as the motion to go into committee. Procedure on recommitment is the same as on commitment. The next stage of any bill or part of a bill subject to recommitment is report stage. However, the minimum interval between committee and report does not apply between recommitment and report.
8.134 SO 45(2) provides for the order of recommitment to be discharged on the same conditions as apply to the order of commitment.
8.135 In exceptional circumstances a member may move without notice that the House consider particular amendments (including Commons amendments) in Committee of the whole House without recommitting the bill.(66) The effect, in accordance with SO 61, is to give greater “freedom of debate” with regard to those amendments. When consideration of the specific amendments is concluded the House is resumed, and proceedings continue without further interruption; the bill is not formally reported to the House, and no report or third reading stage follows. The decisions of the committee in respect of the amendments have the same effect as decisions taken by the House itself.
8.136 If a bill has been amended in Committee of the whole House, the report stage cannot be taken until a later day, unless SO 44 has been suspended or dispensed with.
8.137 The motion “That this report be now received” may be objected to and debated and voted on; an amendment may be moved to postpone the report until a specified time; or a reasoned amendment(67) may be moved in opposition to the motion or to record a particular point of view in assenting to the motion.
8.138 When the Question that the report be now received has been agreed to, any amendments are called in the usual way. Notice of these is given in the same way as for committee, and the same practices apply for marshalling and grouping. The proceedings are confined to dealing with amendments, either in the order in which they relate to the bill or in a particular sequence agreed to in advance by order of the House.
8.139 Amendments identical (or of identical effect) to amendments pressed to a decision by the mover(69) and defeated in committee (including in Grand Committee) may not be retabled on report. However, an issue which has been debated and decided in committee can be reopened, provided that the relevant amendment is more than cosmetically different from that moved in committee.
8.140 An amendment agreed to on a division in committee may not be reversed on report except with the unanimous agreement of the House. A clause or schedule stood part (or left out) on a division in committee may not be removed (or reinstated) on report except with the unanimous agreement of the House.
8.141 Decisions of committees where only certain members of the House can vote (such as select committees or special public bill committees) are not subject to these restrictions.
8.142 As in committee, amendments may be grouped, and a member may ask leave to speak to a number of related amendments. Likewise consecutive amendments may be moved formally en bloc but without any need to confine them within a clause or schedule.
8.143 The Question that clauses and schedules stand part is not put on report, so a proposal to leave out a clause or schedule appears as an amendment. Such an amendment should not be tabled if the purpose underlying the amendment is to initiate a general debate, rather than a genuine desire to leave out the clause or schedule: it may, however, be appropriate when, for instance, a member wishes to learn the outcome of an undertaking given in committee.(70)
8.144 Manuscript amendments are not out of order on report, but the disadvantages and inconvenience are even greater than at committee stage.
8.145 On report no member may speak more than once to an amendment, except the mover of the amendment in reply or a member who has obtained leave of the House, which may only be granted to:
- a member to explain themselves in some material point of their speech, no new matter being introduced;
- the member in charge of the bill; and
- a minister of the Crown.(71)
8.146 Only the mover of an amendment or the member in charge of the bill speaks after the minister on report except for short questions of elucidation to the minister or member in charge or where the minister speaks early to assist the House in debate.(72)
8.147 Arguments fully deployed in Committee of the whole House or in Grand Committee should not be repeated at length on report.(73)
8.148 When the amendments have been disposed of, the bill is republished if amended,(74) and awaits its third reading on a day to be fixed.
8.149 Amendments may be moved after third reading has been agreed to and before the motion that this bill do now pass.(75) Third reading itself is normally confined to the formal motion “That this bill be now read a third time”. In exceptional circumstances a non-fatal amendment to the motion for third reading may be tabled, for instance to delay third reading so as to allow more time for amendments to be tabled. Notice of such an amendment is required. In all other circumstances, the motion for third reading is taken formally, without debate. Any general debate on or opposition to the bill at this stage normally takes place on the subsequent motion “That this bill do now pass”.
8.150 Notice of amendments must be given no later than the day before, in sufficient time to enable them to be published and circulated.(76) Manuscript amendments are not in order unless SO 44 has been suspended or dispensed with, in which case they are in order despite SO 47 unless the House provides otherwise. Marshalled lists of amendments are published on the day of third reading itself, rather than the day before as for other stages.
8.151 The practice of the House is normally to resolve major points of difference by the end of report stage, and to use third reading for tidying up the bill.(77)
8.152 The principal purposes of amendments on third reading are:
- to clarify any remaining uncertainties;
- to improve the drafting; and
- to enable the Government or the member in charge to fulfil undertakings given at earlier stages of the bill, or to enable others to test their willingness to do so.
8.153 An issue which has been fully debated and voted on or negatived at a previous stage of a bill may not be reopened by an amendment on third reading.(78) The term “issue” is wider than a specific amendment. Thus where amendments have been grouped and debated together at an earlier stage of the bill it is assumed that all amendments in the group relate to the same “issue”.
8.154 Where the Legislation Office considers that amendments fall clearly outside the guidance, including, for example, amendments which are identical, or very similar, to ones tabled and withdrawn at committee or report (unless tabled to give effect to government undertakings), or amendments raising completely new major issues, it will advise the member concerned. If the member tables the amendments notwithstanding this advice, the Legislation Office sends notification of these amendments to all members of the usual channels and to the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers. They may then draw the matter to the attention of the House; it is for the House itself to decide what action to take.(79)
8.155 In all other respects the procedure on third reading is the same as that on report.
8.156 When legislative consent arises and has been refused, or not yet granted by the time of third reading, a minister should orally draw it to the attention of the House before third reading commences. In doing this the minister should set out the efforts that were made to secure consent and the reasons for the disagreement.(80) Such statements are not debateable; issues can be raised on Bill Do Now Pass. This procedure does not apply to Lords-starting private members’ bills.(81)
8.157 If the amendments are not disposed of on the same day as third reading, further proceedings after third reading are taken on a later day.
8.158 On third reading of a bill originating in the House of Lords whose provisions may infringe the privileges of the House of Commons with regard to the control of public money, a ‘privilege amendment’ is made by silent minute entry.(82) The amendment consists of a new subsection, inserted at the end of the final clause of the bill, in the following form:
“( ) Nothing in this Act shall impose any charge on the people or on public funds, or vary the amount or incidence of or otherwise alter any such charge in any manner, or affect the assessment, levying, administration or application of any money raised by any such charge.”
8.159 When the bill is published for the Commons these words appear in bold type. They satisfy the requirement of Commons SO 80(a); the Commons, if they mean to pass the bill, leave out the subsection by amendment and thus make the imposition of the charge their own act.
8.160 The motion “That this bill do now pass” is moved immediately after third reading has been agreed to or, if amendments have been tabled, as soon as the last amendment has been disposed of. The motion is usually moved formally. It may be opposed, and reasoned or delaying amendments, of which notice must be given, may be moved to it, but in other circumstances there is normally no substantive debate. Any remarks should be brief and should not seek to reopen debates at previous stages of the bill.(83)
8.161 When a bill is passed by the House in which it has been introduced, a print of the bill, incorporating all the amendments made by that House, is made. This is called the House bill and it is sent to the other House accompanied by a message seeking that House’s agreement to it. Any amendments made in either House in the subsequent passage of the bill are marked into the House bill, which is returned to the other House with a further message. The House bill constitutes the formal record of what each House has done in respect of a bill and is the authority on which each House prints the text of a bill or any amendments brought from the other.
8.162 Each time a bill is sent from one House to the other the House bill is endorsed by the Clerk of that House.(84) The appropriate formulae, in Norman French, are given in appendix H.
8.163 When a bill originates in the Lords, the House bill is endorsed and signed by the Clerk after third reading and sent to the Commons with a message seeking their agreement to it. The Commons publish the bill in the form in which it appears in the House bill.
8.164 If the Lords agree to a Commons bill without amendment, proceedings on the bill are at an end. A message is sent to the Commons so informing them and the bill awaits the Royal Assent. The bill itself is only returned to the Commons if it is a supply bill and the Royal Assent is to be signified by Commission (see appendix F).
8.165 Where a Commons bill is amended in the Lords, the amendments are marked into the House bill which is then endorsed by the Clerk and sent back to the Commons with a message seeking the Commons’ agreement to the Lords amendments. The Commons then publish the Lords amendments.
8.166 If the Commons pass a Lords bill without amendment, or if the only amendment made by the Commons is to remove the privilege amendment, the Commons return it with a message. In the latter case the Commons amendment is deemed to be considered and agreed to without any proceedings taking place on it in the Chamber, and a message is sent to the Commons informing them of the Lords’ agreement. The bill then awaits the Royal Assent.
8.167 If the Commons amend the bill in any other respect, the amendments (including any privilege amendment) are published and circulated. If the bill is returned when the House is not sitting (including when it is adjourned during pleasure), the amendments may be published pursuant to SO 49(2).
8.168 When possible, reasonable notice should be given for the consideration of Commons amendments; but, if necessary, they may be considered forthwith on the day they are received if a motion for that purpose is agreed to.(85) In such circumstances it is usual to give notice by means of an italic note on the order paper.
8.169 When a bill is returned from the Commons with amendments, it is only those amendments which are before the House. The other parts of the bill are no longer at issue, having been agreed to by both Houses, and cannot be amended except by a ‘consequential amendment’, that is, an amendment immediately consequent upon the acceptance or rejection of a Commons amendment. So further amendments proposed at this stage are only admissible if they are relevant to a Commons amendment.
8.170 In dealing with a Commons amendment the following options are open to the Lords:
- to agree to the Commons amendment, (a) without amendment, (b) with amendment, (c) with a consequential amendment to the bill, or (d) with an amendment instead of words left out of the bill by the Commons;
- to disagree to the Commons amendment (a) without offering an alternative or (b) with an alternative to it (an amendment ‘in lieu’) or (c) with an amendment to words so restored to the bill.
8.171 Motions to agree with initial Commons amendments to a Lords bill are not published. Amendments to Commons amendments are tabled and published in the usual way. An amendment to a Commons amendment takes the same form as any other amendment to an amendment (see paragraph 8.78). But a proposal to disagree to a Commons amendment or to put forward an amendment instead, in lieu or to words restored takes the form of an amendment to the motion that the House do agree with the Commons in their amendment.(86) The name of only one member tabling an amendment or motion on consideration of Commons amendments is published and explanatory statements are not used.
8.172 A marshalled list is published on the day on which the amendments are to be taken. In some cases, where it is of assistance to the House, the text of the Commons amendments, or of the relevant ones, is reproduced on the marshalled list. Manuscript amendments are not out of order but the disadvantages and inconveniences are as great as on report.(87)
8.173 Each Commons amendment is called from the Woolsack in the order in which it relates to the bill, unless the House orders differently. The member in charge of the bill normally moves that the House do agree with the Commons in their amendment, and the debate and decision follow as usual (see paragraph 8.77). An amendment to a Commons amendment is moved as soon as the Question on the Commons amendment has been put for the first time. A motion to disagree to a Commons amendment or to propose an amendment in lieu etc. is moved as an amendment to the motion to agree with the Commons amendment. If a motion to disagree is agreed to, there are no further proceedings on the original motion. If a motion to disagree is withdrawn or disagreed to, the Question is put on the original motion that the House do agree with the Commons in their amendment.
8.174 If the member in charge of the bill wishes to move that the House disagree with a Commons amendment, or to make an alternative proposal, the procedure above does not apply and the motion is moved as a motion in its own right and not as an amendment to a motion to agree.
8.175 It is possible simply to oppose a motion to agree or disagree with a Commons amendment but more orderly to table an amendment, both to give notice and to ensure that the House makes a positive decision on each Commons amendment.
8.176 If the member in charge of the bill wishes to move that the House do agree or disagree to some or all of the Commons amendments en bloc, and there is no other motion or amendment tabled to those amendments, they explain their intentions and ask leave of the House to do so when the first is called. If there is no objection the Question is put accordingly. If there is objection the Question must be put separately on each amendment to the extent desired.
8.177 If during consideration of Commons amendments, a member of the House with a proposition on the marshalled list is absent or says “Not moved”, any other member of the House may move it.(88)
8.178 The Legislation Office provides a brief for all movers of amendments and motions at these stages.
8.179 If all the Commons amendments are agreed to without amendment, a message to that effect is sent to the Commons and the bill awaits Royal Assent.
8.180 When the Lords do anything other than agree to Commons amendments, the bill is returned to the Commons with a message to that effect.
8.181 If the Commons do anything other than accept the Lords amendments, and send the bill back accordingly, it then becomes the turn of the Lords to consider the Commons amendments and/or reasons. At this and any subsequent stages all propositions are drafted as motions identified with a letter. Related amendments appear together on the marshalled list and may, if appropriate, be debated and decided together on the basis of a single motion. A set of amendments treated in this way is referred to as a ‘package’. Packaging should be distinguished from grouping, whereby motions are debated together but are decided separately, like amendments at earlier stages.(89)
8.182 When the Lords agree to a Commons amendment with an amendment, the Commons can agree to the Lords amendment, or agree to it with amendments, or disagree to it with or without proposing an alternative.
Amendment in lieu of Commons amendment
8.183 The Lords can disagree to a Commons amendment but propose an amendment in lieu of it. When the bill goes back to the Commons they can agree to the Lords amendment in lieu, or agree to it with an amendment, or disagree to it with or without proposing an alternative.
8.184 If the Commons amend the Lords amendment in lieu, or propose an alternative to it, the Lords can agree to the Commons amendment with or without amendment, propose a new alternative or insist on their original amendment.
Disagreement to Commons amendment with a reason
8.185 If the Lords disagree to a Commons amendment (or insist on a Lords amendment) without proposing an alternative they have to give a reason for their disagreement. A notional ‘reasons committee’ is appointed to do this; members are not named and the committee does not meet. The reason is given as “because the Lords wish the Commons to consider the matter again” and entered into the Minutes of Proceedings accordingly.(90)
8.186 When any Lords amendments have been considered by the Commons, the bill is sent back to the Lords:
- with the Lords amendments agreed to, in which case the bill is ready for Royal Assent; or
- with the Lords amendments agreed to with amendments, or disagreed to with amendments in lieu; or
- with the Lords amendments disagreed to with reasons.
8.187 In considering a Lords response to Commons amendments the Commons may insist on their amendments with a reason; or not insist on their amendments; or not insist on their amendments, but propose others in lieu. The reason, or new amendments, are then considered by the Lords with the same options as before, except that where the Commons reject a Lords amendment and the reason given by the Commons is financial privilege (see paragraph 8.192) the Lords do not insist on their amendment.
8.188 If the Commons insist, it is still open to the Lords not to insist on their disagreement, and thus to accept the Commons amendments, or not to insist on their disagreement but to amend the Commons amendments or propose alternatives.
8.189 If one House insists on an amendment to which the other has disagreed, and the other insists on its disagreement, and neither has offered alternatives, then ‘double insistence’ has occurred and the bill is lost. However, there is no binding rule of order which governs these proceedings in either House, and, if there is a desire to save a bill, some variation in the proceedings may be devised in order to do so.(91)
8.190 Double insistence can be avoided by ‘packaging’ responses to different amendments in a single motion, provided the sending House clearly signals the package and the receiving House accepts its validity. Packages from the Commons are considered by the Lords only if they are confined to single or closely related issues, not disparate issues joined together simply for convenience. Where packages are confined to single or closely related issues, the double insistence rule applies to the whole package and not to individual amendments within it. If a bill is returned from the Commons with a clearly identified package of amendments, the bill is placed on the Lords’ order paper for possible consideration, even if there is a double insistence on part of that package. If the package concerns a single or closely related issue, the Lords will consider it. If the package is not confined to a single or closely related issue, the Lords may refuse to consider it and the bill is then lost.(92)
8.191 If communications are still continuing at the end of a session, the bill is lost.
8.192 Each House of Parliament is guardian of its own privileges. It alone may invoke them. Until it does so, the other House is free to act as it thinks fit. With regard to Commons financial privilege, the Lords may properly make amendments to Commons bills (other than supply bills) which, when they come to be considered by the Commons, are deemed by them to infringe their financial privileges. The Lords need not anticipate what view the Commons may take of any Lords amendments with respect to Commons financial privilege. The only exceptions are amendments which appear to be material and intolerable infringements of privilege, in that they either offend Commons SO 78(3)(93) or impose a charge not authorised by a Ways and Means resolution, and will therefore be summarily rejected by the Commons unless they have previously passed a supplementary financial resolution. Unless there is reason to believe that the necessary resolution will be made by the Commons, it is unprofitable for the Lords to make amendments of this kind. When such Lords amendments are considered by the Commons:
(a) in the case of an infringement of Commons SO 78(3), the amendment is deemed to have been disagreed to without debate and without Question put;
(b) in the case of a Lords amendment imposing a charge upon the people which has not been authorised by a Ways and Means resolution, the Speaker calls upon the member of the Commons in charge of the bill to move to disagree with the Lords amendment forthwith.
8.193 With these exceptions, the Commons may either invoke their financial privileges in respect of Lords amendments or waive them; and the Commons regularly accept Lords amendments which have financial implications. The Speaker of the Commons directs that a ‘special entry’ be made in their Journals implicitly asserting their general rights but stating that the Commons accept the Lords amendment, “the Commons being willing to waive their privileges”.
8.194 If the Commons disagree to a Lords amendment that infringes their financial privileges, the disagreement is made on the ground of privilege alone, and not on the merits of the amendment, even though the Commons may have debated the merits. The Commons communicate in their message to the Lords that the amendment involves a charge upon public funds or a charge by way of national or local taxation or that it in some other way deals with financial arrangements made by the Commons; and they add words to the effect that the Commons do not offer any further reason, trusting that the reason given may be deemed sufficient. In such cases the Lords do not insist on their amendment but they may offer amendments in lieu.
8.195 If the Commons disagree to a Lords amendment which appears to have financial implications but offer an amendment in lieu or an amendment to the words restored to the bill, financial privilege is not at that stage invoked by the Commons and the question whether the Lords amendment infringes privilege does not arise. It is therefore open to the Lords to disagree to the Commons amendment in lieu and to insist on the original Lords amendment.
8.196 Where a bill affects the prerogative or interest of the Crown, the Consent of the Crown is required and in respect of public bills must, after it has been obtained by Her Majesty’s Government, be signified to the House by a minister who is a Privy Counsellor. Consent is not signified by the peer in charge of a private member’s bill. This Consent places the Crown’s prerogative and interest at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the bill, but does not imply that the Crown approves the provisions that require its Consent.
8.197 A bill affecting the interests of the Duchy of Cornwall or the Duchy of Lancaster requires Consent, unless the Crown’s Consent has been obtained and the effect on the Duchy is not distinct from that on the Crown. In such a case Consent is given by the Crown on behalf of each Duchy or, when the Prince of Wales is of age, by Him as Duke of Cornwall.
8.198 The Consent of the Crown is signified on third reading.(94) It may also be signified on consideration of Commons amendments if it has not been previously signified and one of the Commons amendments makes it necessary. If a bill requires Consent and is carried over from one session to the next, Consent need not be re-signified in the second session.(95)
8.199 When it is known that Consent to a bill is required, this is noted in the list of bills in progress in House of Lords Business.
Measures and private bills
8.200 Consent of the Crown may also be required in respect of a Measure or a private bill (see paragraphs 8.235 and 9.56).
8.201 Letters Patent are issued from time to time to signify Royal Assent to bills and Measures passed by both Houses of Parliament.
8.202 Royal Assent is usually notified to each House sitting separately in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967. Once Royal Assent has been notified to both Houses, bills become Acts of Parliament. If notification is given on different calendar days to each House, the date of enactment is the calendar date of notification in the second House.
8.203 Notification is frequently given before oral questions, but it may take place at any break between two items of business, or at the end of business, if necessary after an adjournment. The order in which notification is given is as follows: supply bills, other public bills, private bills, Measures.
8.204 Royal Assent may also be signified by Commission, as described in appendix F.
8.205 Two record copies of each Act are printed. One copy is signed and endorsed by the Clerk of the Parliaments. This copy is preserved in the Parliamentary Archives, the other in the National Archives.
8.206 Under the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949 certain public bills may be presented for Royal Assent without the consent of the Lords. The Acts do not apply to bills originating in the Lords, bills to extend the life of a Parliament beyond five years, private bills or delegated legislation. The conditions which must be fulfilled before a bill can be presented for Royal Assent under the Acts vary according to whether or not the bill is certified by the Speaker of the House of Commons as a money bill.
8.207 A money bill is a bill endorsed with the signed certificate of the Speaker of the House of Commons that it is a money bill because in the Speaker’s opinion it contains only provisions dealing with national, but not local, taxation, public money or loans or their management. The certificate of the Speaker is conclusive for all purposes. If a money bill, which has been passed by the Commons and sent up to the Lords at least one month before the end of a session, is not passed by the Lords without amendment within a month after it is sent to them, the bill shall, unless the Commons direct to the contrary, be presented for the Royal Assent without the consent of the Lords. This does not debar the Lords from amending such bills provided they are passed within the month, but the Commons are not obliged to consider the amendments. On a few occasions minor amendments have been made by the Lords to such bills and have been accepted by the Commons.
Other public bills
8.208 If the Lords reject any other public bill to which the Acts apply which has been sent up from the Commons in two successive sessions, whether of the same Parliament or not, then that bill shall, unless the Commons direct to the contrary, be presented for Royal Assent without the consent of the Lords. The bill must be sent up to the Lords at least one calendar month before the end of each session; and one year must elapse between second reading in the Commons in the first session and the passing of the bill by the Commons in the second. The Lords are deemed to have rejected a bill if they do not pass it, either without amendment or with such amendments only as are acceptable to the Commons. The effect of the Parliament Acts is that the Lords have power to delay enactment of a public bill until the session after that in which it was first introduced and until at least 13 months have elapsed from the date of second reading in the Commons in the first session.
8.209 Supply bills, or bills of aids and supplies, such as Supply and Appropriation Bills and Finance Bills, may be passed or rejected by the Lords but, since the supply is granted by the House of Commons, the Lords are debarred from offering any amendment. Consequently the committee stage is negatived.(96) Proceedings on Supply and Appropriation Bills are always taken formally;(97) Finance Bills are usually debated on second reading and their subsequent stages taken formally.
8.210 When these bills have been passed by the Lords, they are returned to the Commons if the Royal Assent is to be signified by Commission, and are brought up by the Speaker and receive the Royal Assent before, and in a different form from, other bills.(98)
8.211 A supply bill may be identified by its enacting formula (the words between the Title and Clause 1), which will signal the sole responsibility of the Commons. A supply bill may, or may not, be certified as a ‘money bill’ within the meaning of s. 1(2) of the Parliament Act 1911. Finance Bills, which are supply bills, are frequently not certified as money bills.
8.212 The right of the Lords to reject a supply bill includes the right to omit supply provisions from a bill when such provisions form a ‘separate subject’ from the general object of a bill which the Lords are otherwise entitled to amend.
8.213 For example the Lords amended Part III of the Land Commission Bill 1966–67 (which provided for a betterment levy). The Lords amended the part in committee although it concerned supply, but then left it out in its entirety on third reading, since it would have been an infringement of Commons financial privilege to return the bill with that part concerning supply amended. This gave the Commons the opportunity to restore the entire separate subject to the bill with amendments, including some of the Lords amendments made in committee.
8.214 Commons financial privilege debars the Lords from amending supply bills. In order that the Commons should not abuse their financial privilege by including in such bills provisions unconnected with supply, the Lords passed a resolution in 1702 condemning the abuse of ‘tacking’. It is now embodied in SO 51.(99)
8.215 Consolidation bills are invariably introduced in the House of Lords, and are subject to scrutiny by the Joint Committee on Consolidation etc. Bills (see paragraph 8.219). Such bills fall into the following categories:
(a) bills, whether public or private, which are limited to re-enacting existing law;
(b) bills to consolidate any enactments with amendments to give effect to recommendations made by the Law Commissions;
(c) statute law repeals bills, prepared by the Law Commissions to promote the reform of the statute law by the repeal of enactments which are no longer of practical utility;
(d) statute law revision bills, which are limited to the repeal of obsolete, spent, unnecessary or superseded enactments;
(e) bills prepared under the Consolidation of Enactments (Procedure) Act 1949, which include corrections and minor improvements to the existing law.
8.216 Almost all such bills now fall within categories (a) to (c).
8.217 Bills which re-enact in the form in which they apply to Scotland the provisions of United Kingdom Acts,(100) and consequential provisions bills which, although not consolidation bills, contain ancillary provisions normally found in a consolidation bill and form part of a consolidation,(101) have also on occasion been specifically referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation etc. Bills on motion. If the motion is agreed to, a message is sent to the Commons to ask for their agreement.
8.218 On second reading the Lord in charge of the bill may indicate to the House the category into which each bill falls. The bill is then automatically referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation etc. Bills.(102)
Joint Committee on Consolidation etc. Bills
8.219 The joint committee consists of 12 members of each House, the Lords members being nominated by the Committee of Selection.(103) It is normally chaired by a former holder of high judicial office. The function of the joint committee is to assure itself that all the provisions of a bill fall properly within one of the categories previously indicated, and to report thereon to each House. After taking evidence from the drafters responsible and any departmental or other witnesses, the joint committee reports the bill to the House of Lords with or without amendment. Where amendments are made by the joint committee, bills are usually republished as amended. Whether or not amended, they are then recommitted to a Committee of the whole House. Thereafter consolidation bills follow the same course as other public bills.
8.220 Amendments may be moved in the House to bills that have been referred to the joint committee, provided that they are restricted to the class of amendment that could have been moved in the joint committee.
Moving of stages of consolidation bills en bloc
8.221 Where the same stage of several linked consolidation bills is to be considered by the House, the Lord in charge may, with notice (given by means of an italic note in House of Lords Business), move the bills en bloc. In the case of an amending stage, this is only possible if no amendments have been tabled. Any member may, however, propose that the bills be taken separately to the extent desired. The House can also resolve itself into a committee on recommitment in respect of several consolidation bills at once in order to debate any amendments tabled; the committee reports only when all the bills have been considered. In this case the procedure is applied by business of the House motion.(104)
8.222 Hybrid bills are public bills which are considered to affect specific private or local interests, in a manner different from the private or local interests of other persons or bodies of the same class, thus attracting the provisions of the standing orders applicable to private business (see paragraph 9.7).
Reference of bills to Examiners
8.223 Each public bill introduced in the Lords is examined by the Legislation Office to see whether it may affect any private interests to which protection is given by the standing orders. If, prima facie, this is found to be so, an order is made referring the bill to the Examiners. The second reading of the bill cannot be moved until the report of the Examiners has been received nor, in the case of a bill requiring an environmental statement, until certain other actions have occurred (see paragraph 8.228), although notice of second reading of the bill may be entered in the order paper.
8.224 It is open to any member who considers that a public bill may be hybrid, or has become hybrid as a result of any amendment made to it (see paragraph 8.230), to move that the bill be referred to the Examiners. Such a motion is usually moved immediately before second reading, but may be moved with notice between stages at any time before third reading.
Report from Examiners
8.225 If the Examiners report that no standing orders are applicable, the bill may proceed on its ordinary course.
8.226 However, if the Examiners find that the standing orders relating to private business are applicable, the bill is a hybrid bill, and (unless the House orders otherwise) an order of the House is made providing for petitions against the bill to be deposited by a given date.
8.227 If no petitions are deposited against the bill, the bill proceeds as a public bill in the usual way. If petitions are deposited, the bill is committed after second reading to a select committee.
Consultation on the environmental statement
8.228 If a hybrid bill requires an environmental statement to be prepared(105) comments from the public must be invited on the statement within a period set by the relevant minister.(106) Once those comments have been received by the government department a report must be prepared within a specified timeframe by an independent assessor summarising the issues raised in those comments. That report is submitted to both Houses. The second reading of the bill cannot be moved until at least 14 days after the report has been submitted. Any supplementary environmental information subsequently deposited will be subject to a similar process and the third reading of the bill cannot be moved until 14 days after the last assessor’s report has been submitted. At third reading the minister must state the main reasons and considerations upon which Parliament is invited to give consent to the project to be authorised by the bill and also the main measures to be taken to avoid, reduce and, if possible, offset any major adverse effects of the project. A written statement setting out this information must be laid at least seven days before third reading.
8.229 Since the bill is a public bill, and has been affirmed in principle on second reading, the preamble does not have to be proved before the select committee; but in other respects the committee broadly follows the procedure of a select committee on an opposed private bill (see paragraph 9.38). When the bill is reported from the select committee it is recommitted to a Committee of the whole House or a Grand Committee and thereafter follows the usual course of a public bill (subject to the requirements at third reading for a bill needing an environmental statement set out in paragraph 8.228). The bill is republished as amended by the select committee.
8.230 A bill may become prima facie hybrid as a result of an amendment made to it (and a hybrid bill may be amended in such a way as to affect private or local interests not previously affected). If an amendment is agreed to which, in the opinion of the Legislation Office, has such an effect, the bill may be referred to the Examiners before its next stage, on a motion moved by the Senior Deputy Speaker.
8.231 A Measure passed by the General Synod of the Church of England is, under the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919, submitted to Parliament for a resolution directing that it be presented to His Majesty for Royal Assent.
8.232 The Measure is submitted first to the Ecclesiastical Committee, which is appointed pursuant to the 1919 Act for the duration of a Parliament and which consists of 15 members of the House of Lords, nominated by the Lord Speaker, and 15 members of the House of Commons, nominated by the Commons Speaker. The committee appoints its own Chair; by practice, this is a former holder of high judicial office. Being a statutory committee, the committee is not formally a joint committee, nor are its proceedings “proceedings in Parliament”;(107) but it has resolved to adopt the procedure of a joint committee.
8.233 The committee reports on the nature and legal effect of the Measure, and gives its views on whether the Measure should proceed (“is expedient”), especially with relation to the constitutional rights of all His Majesty’s subjects. During its consideration of a Measure the Ecclesiastical Committee may, either of its own motion or at the request of the Legislative Committee of the General Synod, invite the Legislative Committee to discuss its provisions at a conference.
8.234 The committee communicates its report in draft to the Legislative Committee, and may not present its report to Parliament until the Legislative Committee asks it to do so. The Legislative Committee may, at any time before the presentation of the Ecclesiastical Committee’s report to Parliament, withdraw a Measure from the consideration of that committee, and has invariably done so in the face of an unfavourable draft report.
8.235 If the Legislative Committee decides to proceed with the Measure, the text of the Measure and the report of the Ecclesiastical Committee are laid before Parliament. If the Senior Deputy Speaker and the Chairman of Ways and Means in the Commons think that a Measure deals with two or more subjects which might more properly be divided, they can divide a Measure at this point and it is published as separate Measures. A resolution for presenting the Measure to His Majesty for Royal Assent may then be moved. Where a Measure affects the interests or prerogative of the Crown, Consent is required as for a bill. It is signified before the motion is moved in the House. If both Houses agree to such a motion, the Measure is ready for Royal Assent.
8.236 Neither the Ecclesiastical Committee nor either House has power to amend a Measure, but either House can reject it by disagreeing to the motion for a resolution.
1 Procedure 4th Rpt 2019–21. Business of the House motions not only to dispense with what is now SO 44 but to timetable proceedings on a bill were tabled in September 2019. See HL Deb., 4 September, col. 1011 and 5 September, col. 1148.
2 This happened on 23 Feb 1972: LJ (1971–72) 159.
3 Procedure 2nd Rpt 1976–77.
4 Including if the debate is held in Grand Committee.
5 The 14-day periods are inclusive of the day on which the previous stage is concluded. The three-day period is exclusive.
6 HL Deb. 15 December 2009, col. WS238.
7 Procedure 1st Rpt 1987–88; 1st Rpt 1991–92.
8 Procedure 3rd Rpt 1997–98. In the Lords, the Constitutional Reform Bill [HL] was carried over from session 2003–04 to 2004–05, and the Trusts (Capital and Income) Bill [HL] from 2010–12 to 2012–13. Two bills were carried over from 2017–19 to 2019. In the Commons, the power to carry over has been used more frequently.
9 Procedure 5th Rpt 2001–02. That report said, “In the case of the Lords carrying-over a Commons bill, in order to avoid the Parliament Acts being implemented, the Commons should be invited to agree, before the Lords agrees to the carry-over, to a formal direction that section 2 of the Parliament Act 1911 should not apply to the bill in the ensuing session.”
10 See for instance Minutes of Proceedings, 5 & 9 September, 15 & 16 October 2019.
12 Scotland Act 1998, s. 28(7); Northern Ireland Act 1998 s. 5(6); Government of Wales Act 2006, ss. 93(5), 107(5).
13 HL Deb. 28 October 1998, cols 1947–52. This was reflected in the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding between the UK Government and the devolved administrations, paragraph 14 of which stated: “The United Kingdom Parliament retains authority to legislate on any issue, whether devolved or not. It is ultimately for Parliament to decide what use to make of that power. However, the UK Government will proceed in accordance with the convention that the UK Parliament would not normally legislate with regard to devolved matters except with the agreement of the devolved legislature. The devolved administrations will be responsible for seeking such agreement as may be required for this purpose on an approach from the UK Government.”
14 Scotland Act 1998, s. 28(8), inserted by s. 2 of the Scotland Act 2016.
15 Government of Wales Act 2006, s. 107(6), inserted by s. 2 of the Wales Act 2017.
16 SO 39(3).
19 This requirement does not apply to private members’ bills.
20 HL Deb. 19 July 1989, cols 788–91; Procedure 3rd Rpt 1992–93.
22 1 Aug 1980, 24 July 2000.
25 The overall time limit for Grand Committee applies. If it is reached, debate is adjourned.
26 Procedure and Privileges 5th Rpt 2021–22. The procedure can be applied to a private member’s bill.
27 Including a member who spoke in Grand Committee.
28 LJ ( 2011–12) 312; LJ (2014–15) 260.
29 See Minutes of Proceedings, 12 October 2020.
30 SO 47(1); Procedure 1st Rpt 1970–71.
32 Procedure 2nd Rpt 1976–77.
33 This refers to hard copy. Online publication usually takes place the night before.
35 See HL Deb. 6 February 1968, cols 1075–86.
36 SO 38.
37 Procedure 2nd Rpt 1990–91.
38 Procedure 1st Rpt 1974–75.
39 See HL Deb. 11 June 1964, cols 986–1001; Procedure 1st Rpt 1983–84.
40 See HL Deb. 21 January 1997, col. 586, and 21 Nov 2017, col. 93.
41 See HL Deb. 20 July 1995, col. 468.
42 In case of an instruction to consider schedule B after clause A , new clauses after A are normally considered after A, not after B.
43 But see paragraph 8.60.
44 Procedure 1st Rpt 1962–63.
45 SO 47. If SO 44 is set aside, then manuscript amendments are permitted at third reading despite SO 47, unless the House provides otherwise.
46 HL Deb. 21 March 1984, col. 1325. The same applies to motions at consideration of Commons amendments (Procedure 5th Rpt 2017–19).
48 Procedure 2nd Rpt 1976–77; 1st Rpt 1987–88.
49 Procedure 2nd Rpt 1991–92.
50 Objection is registered by brief intervention; there is no debate.
51 Under SO 61 the Lord Speaker may preside over Committee of the whole House.
52 SO 61.
53 See also SO 61.
55 Or, if the Lord Speaker or another Deputy Speaker takes over the Woolsack, the Lord who was in the Chair may report the bill from the Government front bench.
56 Procedure 1st Rpt 1956–57.
57 SO 45(2).
58 See paragraph 7.2.
60 Procedure 1st Rpt 1994–95.
61 SO 64.
62 On 22 Jan 2013 the special public bill committee on the Partnerships (Prosecution) (Scotland) Bill [HL] was given power to travel. The special public bill committee on the Insurance Bill [HL] was given power to appoint a specialist adviser on 25 November 2014.
63 Procedure 3rd Rpt 1970–71; 2nd Rpt 1987–88.
64 LJ (1958–59) 97. This was the bill for the Highways Act 1959, a bill “to consolidate with amendments”.
65 LJ (1854–55) 277, 234. Members were added to the committee on recommitment.
66 LJ (2008–09) 868.
67 See paragraphs 8.44–8.46.
69 This rule does not apply if the mover seeks leave to withdraw.
70 Procedure 9th Rpt 1970–71.
71 SO 29.
72 Procedure 1st Rpt 1987–88.
73 Procedure 2nd Rpt 1976–77.
74 Or occasionally the amendments rather than the whole bill, as in the case of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, 21 Jan 2020.
75 Procedure 1st Rpt 1980–81.
76 SO 47.
78 Procedure 2nd Rpt 1976–77.
84 In the absence of the Clerk of the Parliaments, the Clerk Assistant or any other Table clerk may endorse or sign a bill on their behalf.
85 Procedure 1st Rpt 1987–88. SO 39(4).
87 Procedure 1st Rpt 1989–90.
91 Erskine May, 30.25. For an example see the proceedings on the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill on 11 May 2004.
92 Procedure 1st Rpt 2004–05 and a prior statement by the Clerks of the two Houses (Official Report, 21 July 2004, columns WS19–WS21).
93 “If the Speaker is satisfied that a Lords amendment imposes a charge upon the public revenue such as is required to be authorised by resolution of the House under Standing Order No. 49 (Certain proceedings relating to public money) and that such charge has not been so authorised, on reaching that amendment, the Speaker shall declare that he is so satisfied and the amendment shall be deemed to have been disagreed to and shall be so recorded in the Journal.”
96 See paragraph 8.56.
97 Procedure 3rd Rpt 1992–93.
98 See appendix F.
99 LJ (1701–05) 185.
100 LJ (1972) 383.
101 Joint Committee on Consolidation etc. Bills 4th Rpt 1987–88.
102 SO 50.
104 Procedure 2nd Rpt 1991–92.
105 PBSO 27A.
106 PBSO 83A.
107 See paragraph 11.1, footnote 1.