Select Committee on Procedure Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter from the Rt Hon Sir Peter Emery MP to the Chairman of the Committee

  You asked me whether I would put in writing the necessary alteration to Standing Orders I had suggested in order to ensure that all nominees for Speaker could be assured that their name would be put before the House. This is a very simple matter.

  At the moment, after the nomination of the first candidate, an amendment may be put. If the amendment is defeated then another amendment may be moved. This is what happened in the election of Mr Speaker Martin. However, the single procedural problem is that if the amendment is carried this becomes a substantive motion and has to be put without any further amendment. The only way candidates who still wish to be considered can proceed is to defeat the substantive motion and begin the whole procedure again with another new name being put forward. This is the normal way we deal with amendments as set out in Standing Orders.

  However I suggest that, in the case of the election for the Speaker, the normal procedure for dealing with amendments should be varied. In such circumstances, if an amendment were carried, the House, instead of proceeding immediately to vote on the Main Question, as amended, should be invited to accept any further amendment which might then be proposed. Had this approach operated, for example, in 1992, after the House agreed to the amendment to leave out "Mr Peter Brooke" and insert "Miss Betty Boothroyd", it would have been possible to move to leave out "Miss Betty Boothroyd" and to insert "Sir Terence Higgins" before putting the Main Question as amended. Only once all candidates had been disposed of should, under this procedure, the Main Question, as amended, be put.

  The only alteration to Standing Orders would be for an addition to Standing Order 1 along the following lines—"Provided that if any such amendment is agreed to a further motion or motions may be proposed (and the questions thereon shall be put as amendments) before the main question, as amended, is put." A slight extra addition would be necessary to Standing Order 31, adding the words "subject to the provisions of Standing Order 1".

24 January 2001

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