House of CommonsShort guide to procedure and practice

Grand Committees

(See also Northern Ireland business, Scottish business and Welsh business.)

The sittings of Grand Committees and the business dealt with are determined by motions in the House. The types of business are as follows:

  • Oral questions at the beginning of certain sittings (for 45 minutes in the Scottish Grand and 30 minutes in the Northern Ireland Grand and Welsh Grand). Questions (not more than one per Member) should be handed in to the Table Office in the usual way a fortnight in advance by 5 p.m., indicating that they are for answer in the relevant Grand Committee. Questions can be submitted later (the minimum notice being three sitting days) but such questions are simply added at the end of the existing list.

  • Short debates, lasting for 30 minutes plus the ministerial reply. Notice of proposed debates should be given to the Table Office a fortnight in advance. Subjects must relate to Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales respectively. There is a ballot. Speeches are time-limited.

  • Ministerial statements.

  • Consideration of the principle of bills referred to the Committee by the House. Such debates take place prior to Second Reading, and replace debate on Second Reading in the House. (The Northern Ireland Grand and Scottish Grand may also consider bills after Report stage, replacing the Third Reading debate in the House.)

  • Motions on statutory instruments (Northern Ireland and Scottish Grand only) and on proposed draft Orders in Council (Northern Ireland Grand only).

  • General debates. In the Scottish Grand, where the choice of subjects is allocated between the parties, the debate is on a motion to adjourn. In the Northern Ireland Grand and Welsh Grand, which debate subjects referred to them by the House, the Motion is 'That the Committee has considered the matter of ...'

  • Half-hour adjournment debates at the end of the day's business. Proposed subjects should be sent to the Speaker's Office in the week before the sitting (the exact deadline is notified to Members by the Clerk of the Committee).

An Order Book for each Committee, indicating future business, is printed periodically and is available from the Vote Office. Dates, location and agenda are given in the Weekly Information Bulletin.

Contacts: Clerks of the Northern Ireland and Scottish Grand Committees, 2924, and of the Welsh Grand Committee, 3253.

Further information: Standing orders Nos. 93 to 116.


© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 14 February 2001