Select Committee on Procedure First Report

The JCHR recommendations

7. The JCHR's report reviews these procedures and makes a number of proposals for changes. These are as follows:

(1)  In calculating the 60-day periods under the Act, no account is taken of any time during which both Houses are adjourned for more than four days. Experience during the summer recess of 2001 showed that judicial sittings of the Lords significantly cut down the number of days when both Houses were so adjourned: in other words, the clock kept running because the Law Lords were sitting, even though the Commons was not sitting. The time allowed for effective scrutiny in the Commons was thus much reduced. The JCHR recommends that the Act should be amended to stop the statutory period running when either House is adjourned for more than four days. This would be in line with the wording used in the Deregulation and Contracting-out Act 1994 and subsequently the Regulatory Reform Act.

(2)  The JCHR concludes that the second of the 60-day periods (between laying of a draft order and its approval by resolution) is not necessary. It recommends that the Act should be amended to allow a draft order to be approved at any time after it is laid, provided that Commons standing orders are also amended to ensure that no approval motion can be moved in that House until the JCHR has reported on the draft order (which it would have to do within the required statutory period). The Procedure Committee has in the past repeatedly urged that standing orders be amended to included a similar provision in relation to approval motions in general, i.e. that no decision on a statutory instrument should be taken by the House until the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments (JCSI) has reported on it.[5]

(3)  Likewise, the JCHR recommends that standing orders should be amended to prevent a motion to approve an urgent-procedure order being made before the JCHR has reported on it.

(4)  The report draws attention to the fact that Standing Order No. 18 sets out special procedure for approval of a draft Deregulation or Regulatory Reform Order. It provides that such orders must be approved on the floor of the House and cannot be referred to standing committee, and imposes different levels of procedure in consequence of different recommendations from the Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Committee. No equivalent provision is made in standing orders in relation to remedial orders. The JCHR recommends that this should be done. In particular it recommends that:

(a)  if the JCHR so recommends, a remedial order should be taken on the floor rather than in committee; and

(b)  if the JCHR recommends against the approval of a remedial order, the House would first have to resolve to disagree with that recommendation, in a debate lasting no more than three hours, before it could approve the order.

(5)  Finally, the JCHR recommends that Commons standing orders should be amended to exclude remedial orders from consideration by the JCSI. This has already been done in Lords standing orders, and would be a logical 'tidying up' change.

5   See Procedure Committee, Fourth Report of Session 1995-96, Delegated Legislation (HC 152), para 20, and First Report of Session 1999-2000, Delegated Legislation (HC 48), paras 8, 21 and 55. Back

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