Select Committee on Procedure Fourth Report

2 Debates

4. Parliaments are places dedicated to talking. They take decisions too, and it is sometimes held that the main purpose of debate is to attempt to persuade the other side in the use of their votes. Perhaps, in a party system with an overall majority, this attempt is not often successful, in which case the debate may still serve to challenge, in a public way, the policies and actions of the Government and to put forward alternative suggestions which, in turn, are subject to challenge. Assertions in speeches are liable to contradiction later in the debate, or even by an immediate intervention. This is one of the defining features which distinguishes parliamentary debate from other ways in which political dialogue may be carried on outside Parliament.

5. The forum for this debate does not have to be the House itself; the discussion of a specialised subject may involve only a handful of Members, and a committee is the appropriate venue; in some types of committee, voting is restricted to a named membership but any Member may attend and speak; and since 1999 there has been Westminster Hall,[3] a parallel debating chamber for the whole House, but with the tradition of no divisions.[4] Although we mention the use of Westminster Hall later in our Report (paragraph 32 onwards), our principal concern about debates is that those which take place in the House should use the limited time available to the best advantage, and we have considered several criticisms of the current arrangements.

Debates: the existing arrangements

6. Debates take many forms; often there will be short debates on statutory instruments, or a series of debates on the report stage of a bill or Lords Amendments; but much of the House's time is taken up with full-day debates on topics chosen by the Government, including debates on the second reading of its bills and debates on motions (including adjournment motions, usually intended to allow the House to discuss a subject without voting). Similar debates on motions are held on the twenty Opposition days each session, which are often divided into two debates. The length of a full debate is a theoretical 6½ hours (5½ hours on Thursdays), though this time is often reduced by preliminary business such as a statement (see below, paragraph 40).[5]

7. Apart from the opening and closing speeches by front-bench party spokesmen, those called to speak are chosen by the Speaker and his deputies, normally on the basis of applications made in advance.[6] If demand to speak is high, the Speaker may impose a time limit on back-bench speeches, usually between 8 and 15 minutes. The minimum limit of 8 minutes is set down by Standing Order,[7] and limits longer than 15 minutes are usually considered unnecessary. Between 1998 and 2002, the clock was stopped during all interventions, but the Member speaking was allowed no extra time to reply to them; now the clock is stopped during the first two interventions in a speech, and the Member is allowed an extra minute for each of them. Many debates are oversubscribed, but if, towards the end of a debate, only a few extra Members remain to speak, unofficial (and unenforceable) attempts are often made to share out the remaining time among all of them.

8. Under these arrangements, there are unlikely to be more than 25 to 30 back-bench speeches in a debate, and therefore back-benchers cannot expect to be called to speak (in full or half-day debates) more than about four or five times a year. In fact, figures provided by the Speaker's Secretary for Session 2001-02, a session about 30% longer than normal, showed an average number of speeches of 3.5 by a Government back-bencher and 5.6 by an Opposition one.[8] (This disparity is caused mainly by the "alternate sides" convention, to which we return in paragraph 26.)

Criticisms and proposals for change

9. On these figures, it is not surprising that many Members complained that they were not called to speak as often as they would like. The proposed solutions varied: changes in the balance of speakers between parties or between senior and junior members; shorter front-bench speeches; longer sittings; speeches shorter than eight minutes. Members might be less disappointed if they knew, at the start of the debate, that they were not to be called to speak, and could therefore leave the Chamber and undertake other work.

Front-bench speeches

10. There are currently no limits on the length of front-bench speeches, though both the Modernisation Committee[9] and the Speaker[10] have said that front-benchers should exercise self-restraint when a limit has been applied to back-bench speeches. Sometimes a front-bench speech (particularly a Minister's opening speech) is extended considerably by a large number of interventions; Members may intervene, rather than making a speech, because they may then receive an instant reply rather than a brief mention later in the wind-up speeches; it may also be that they intervene if they doubt that they will be called to make a speech. It was also put to us, however, that ministerial speeches were often over-long because they had been written that way by civil servants.[11] If a Minister is introducing a long and complicated bill, it is understandable that a second reading speech will be detailed; but the speech should really be about the principles behind the bill and the political justification for them, rather than a cut-down version of the Explanatory Notes, which Members can read for themselves. The Leader of the House was in favour of limits for front bench speeches if there were some discretion and extra time were allowed for interventions; in a previous post he had cut down speeches which had been drafted for him.[12] The Modernisation Committee has said: "we believe backbenchers would welcome it if the prepared text of a Ministerial speech was not normally in excess of twenty minutes and if the official Opposition spokesman did not feel obliged to match the length of speech of the Minister opening the debate".[13]

11. We do not believe that it is practicable to lay down, by Standing Order, a fixed limit such as 20 or 30 minutes for front bench speeches; but we do recommend that ministers and other front benchers should aim for no more than twenty minutes of speech material, to allow for extra time for interventions. These lengths should be even shorter for half-day debates. We encourage the Speaker to remind Members of this from time to time. However, one of our later recommendations (see paragraph 13) would require a fixed length of time for wind-up speeches.

Shorter back-bench speeches

12. When speech limits were introduced (originally of ten minutes), there were criticisms that this would harm debates, and would have made impossible several famous speeches of the past, which (it was claimed) needed to be far longer.[14] However, we believe that lengthy back-bench speeches are a luxury which the House cannot afford in the face of the current overall demand for speaking time.

13. We then have to consider whether the current minimum limit of eight minutes should be lowered, for those debates when the number of applicants to speak would justify that. We have to strike a balance between reducing speech lengths to a ridiculously low level, and ignoring the fact that many Members are left out of debates. Although we believe that it would be completely unacceptable to the House to have debates consisting entirely of (say) three-minute speeches, that does not mean that some of the speeches could not be as short as that. It would require a different style of speech: not a detailed consideration of two or three aspects of a subject, but a single point succinctly expressed, perhaps to draw attention to something not previously mentioned, or to reinforce another Member's remarks. We were therefore interested in Sir Patrick Cormack's proposals for an hour before the wind-up speeches (or half an hour, for a half-day debate) when the Chair would call Members who had been present for a majority of the debate but had not applied beforehand to speak.[15] We recognise that this would reduce the number of speeches from Members who had applied to speak, and therefore believe it would be justified only if the speeches were, in principle, very much shorter. We therefore suggest the following:

a)  The procedure would apply to the hour of a full-day debate immediately before the wind-up speeches (or half an hour for a half-day debate). (This would entail a definite starting time for the wind-up speeches.)

b)  Members who had been present for (substantially) the whole debate, and either had not previously applied to speak or had applied but not been called, should notify the Chair, during the debate, that they wished to be called to make a short speech. At the beginning of the hour (or half-hour), the Chair should announce, on the basis of the number of applications received, how many minutes each speaker would have. No extra time would be allowed for interventions during this period. The shortest speech limit allowed during this period should be three minutes, so if more than twenty Members applied (ten, in a half-day debate), some would not be called.

c)  The precise details of how this should work would need to be discussed with the Speaker; however, we recommend that speeches made during this time should not normally count against a Member's total for the session.

14. Although this suggestion may seem revolutionary, it is in a way a development of the practice already mentioned (paragraph 7) of informally dividing up the remaining time between those Members still present who wish to speak. The difference is that this part of the debate would go on for longer, and the time limits would be enforceable. Therefore more Members could take part. On occasions when few Members wished to participate, the Chair could simply announce that the eight-minute limit would continue.

15. We recommend that our proposals for the hour or half-hour of short speeches should be implemented for an experimental period.

Priority to speak

16. Although the priority for Privy Councillors was abolished in 1998,[16] many Members believe that senior Members are still called more often,[17] and one Member gave us evidence that during the debates on Iraq on 24 September 2002 and 26 February 2003, only three Labour Members first elected in 1997 had been called to speak (and none of those first elected in 2001).[18] Other Members said that the criteria used by the Speaker were not generally known. We therefore welcome Mr Speaker's decision to issue to all Members a revised and expanded version of his circular on "Conventions and Courtesies of the House", which for ease of reference we have appended to this Report. In the circular, the Speaker states that he takes into account "relevant experience or expertise (in or outside the House), Members' expressed interest or constituency involvement" as well as how often Members have previously spoken (or been unsuccessful).[19] An important word here is "expressed". We understand that some applications to speak give no details which the Speaker can take into account in making his choice. The occupants of the Chair cannot reasonably be expected to know, or find out, all about a Member's experience or expertise (especially if it was gained outside the House) in relation to any particular debate, and we recommend that Members should help themselves by giving concise details of relevant experience, etc., in their application letters.

17. We also recognise that there are some issues (such as UK involvement in the conflict in Iraq), where every Member, regardless of experience or expertise, will have something to say, and calling only those particularly qualified to speak would distort the debate. Accordingly, we believe that the considerations which the Speaker takes into account in the choice of Members in debates should remain just that, and should not, as a result of their wider dissemination, be elevated to the status of de facto rules. The Speaker needs, in the end, to retain absolute discretion.

Lists of speakers

18. We received several requests for the issuing in advance of a list of those the Speaker intended to call. This would, it was argued, mean that Members would know where they stood and would be able to undertake other work rather than sit in the Chamber all day. Other Members thought this would give carte blanche for those listed to—in the words of Mr Tam Dalyell, the Father of the House—"blow in, blow up and blow out";[20] although this could be countered by insisting that those on the list adhere to the current conventions, namely that they should be present at least for the opening and wind-up speeches and for the two following their own.

19. The Speaker, in a letter last year to the Modernisation Committee, expressed several reservations about such a scheme. It would, he said, give the Chair less flexibility to rearrange the list in the light of developments; it might expose Members to criticism on occasions when they appeared on the list but had to withdraw; it might result in lower attendances for debate; it might make it more difficult for Members to express views which were minority views within their own parties. [21]

20. Other witnesses drew our attention to the list system in the House of Lords.[22] Those wishing to speak apply to the Government Whips' Office, where the list is reordered to allow for an alternation of parties and cross-benchers; the list as issued also states the time available for each speech (assuming, in the case of non-time-limited debates, that the House will want to finish at about 10 pm).[23] There is a "gap" before the wind-up speeches where Lords who have not applied may speak briefly if there is time available. Lords who will be unable to attend the opening and wind-up speeches and the speeches immediately before and after their own are expected to withdraw from the list.

21. Although the Lords' system is interesting and appears to work well, the fundamental difference is the assumption that everyone who applies will be able to speak. In these circumstances the order of speaking is less important.

22. Alternatives to a list of speakers which were suggested to us included an alphabetical list of those who were likely to be called, or of all those who had applied to speak, or a list in order of speaking available to Members but not others.[24] Occupants of the Chair are usually willing to indicate to Members, after the opening speeches had taken place, whether they were likely to be called or not.[25] This could of course not be predicted exactly (any more than it could be with a published list) and the Speaker has sometimes announced, on occasions when debates had been particularly over-subscribed, that Members should not approach the Chair in this way.[26] It is possible that some Members assume that this ruling applies to all occasions.

23. We have considered carefully the conflicting views expressed. We recognise that no recommendation will please everyone. We also hope that our recommendation for an hour of short speeches should reduce considerably those occasions on which Members are disappointed. We recommend that there should be experiments with issuing of lists of speakers for selected debates, perhaps those where there is greatest demand to speak, with the following arrangements:

a)  the Speaker would choose the debates concerned;

b)  a list of those who had applied in writing to speak by a certain time would be posted in the No division lobby;

c)  the Members would not be listed in the order in which the Speaker proposed to call them, and it would need to be made clear that the list was provisional, being subject to later additions and removals of names and to the discretion of the Chair in deciding whom to call;

d)  as now, Members would be called only if they had attended the opening speeches and on the understanding that they remained in the Chamber for at least the two speeches following their own and returned for the wind-up speeches;

e)  to protect spontaneity in debate, if our recommendation in paragraph 13 is in operation, those on the list should not have priority to speak during the period allotted for short speeches.

24. We will wish to evaluate the two experiments which we have described (above and in paragraph 13) after an appropriate period.

25. We would hope that the occupants of the Chair would continue their current good practice and use their experience to give Members, on request, an estimate of whether there is likely to be enough time available for them to be called. When no list is issued, we suggest that, when announcing speech limits, the Chair should also announce how many Members have applied to speak.

The "alternate sides" convention

26. It is customary for the Chair to call Members to speak from alternate sides of the House. As has been pointed out to us, and as revealed by the statistics kept by the Speaker's Office (see paragraph 8), this means that a lower proportion of Government back-benchers are called than of back-benchers from the parties in opposition, especially when the Government has a large majority. Many Government back-benchers (in the current Parliament, Labour back-benchers) feel that this puts them at a considerable disadvantage, particularly in comparison with Members from the smaller opposition parties. In opposition to this argument, it is pointed out that this disparity changes with the party in Government, and that opposition parties believe that the system goes some way to redressing the considerable advantages of the party in power.[27]

27. On occasion, the Chair runs out of Members from one side of the House or the other to call to speak, and calls Members successively from the same side. It is not unknown for Whips from the party whose Members are absent to scour the Palace of Westminster for Members and send them into the Chamber to make speeches. The Chair has often felt obliged to call such Members to maintain a party balance, although in recent times this practice has been relaxed and Members who have just arrived have, at the least, been made to wait.

28. We believe that the Chair should continue, in general, to maintain the convention of calling Members from alternate sides of the House; but priority should be given to the convention that Members who are called should have attended a substantial part of the debate. The Chair should be under no obligation to call Members who have been absent for most of the debate merely because there is nobody else on their side of the House.

Undelivered speeches

29. Several Members suggested that Members who have been unsuccessful in speaking in a debate should be allowed to have their speech printed in the Official Report, as happens in the United States Congress and elsewhere.[28] This procedure has several disadvantages. The most obvious one is that, as speeches in the House are not supposed to be read out verbatim from notes (a matter to which we return in paragraph 31), Members will probably not have a speech in a form suitable for handing to the Official Report at the end of a debate. It would not be acceptable for speeches to be printed without some process of checking to ensure that, had they been delivered in the Chamber, they would not have been the subject of intervention from the Chair on the grounds of irrelevance, unparliamentary language, infringement of the sub judice rule or disorderliness in some other respect. For these reasons it would be unlikely that such speeches could be included in the issue of the Official Report containing the relevant debate.[29] There are implications for parliamentary privilege and it is questionable whether a speech should be printed in the Official Report which is not open to the same type of challenges from other Members as it would have been if delivered in the Chamber. We do not recommend the printing of undelivered speeches in the Official Report.

Parliamentary conventions

30. We received some suggestions that some Parliamentary conventions were unnecessary (and others that the conventions were increasingly being disregarded, either unwittingly or deliberately). The conventions are made readily available to Members in letters from the Speaker and booklets and leaflets provided to new Members, and some of the more complicated ones are dying out.[30] The requirement to address the Chair, and therefore the prohibition on calling other Members "you", is common to most meetings which are sufficiently formal to have a chairman.[31] In most other meetings, however, it is usual to refer to those present by name, and some Members find it difficult to use the constituency instead. However, the House has only recently decided to retain this convention; constituencies as well as names are displayed on the annunciators; and Members who have forgotten a constituency name can often use some other description such as "the honourable Member opposite" or "the honourable Member who has just sat down". In some assemblies references to other Members by name frequently become discourteous.[32] We recommend no change in the way of referring to other Members.

Reading speeches

31. The Speaker's circular says: "Members may refer to notes but they should not read speeches or questions at length". We understand that Ministers, and, on occasion, the spokesmen of other parties, may have to keep fairly closely to a detailed brief, and that some new Members may be diffident about speaking from mere notes, especially if they have not done so in their previous political activity. But a series of pre-written speeches, read out with no reference to what has already been said, is not a profitable use of debating time—it could be replaced by a set of press releases. We urge Members to depart from their notes freely and react to what has previously been said in a debate.

Initiative in choosing subjects for debate

32. Control of the business of the House is largely in the hands of the Government. We have considered the extent to which opportunities for the Opposition and back-bench Members to debate issues of their own choosing could be extended. There are already 20 Opposition days each session, 17 for the largest opposition party and 3 for the next largest. Private Members' opportunities have increased recently because of the four 1½-hour debates available each week in Westminster Hall as well as the six half-hour debates there, supplementing the end-of-day debates in the House. All of these are on the technical motion to adjourn. The practice of the House is that adjournment motions allow the raising of any subject engaging Government responsibility as long as it is not primarily concerned with a call for legislation.[33] In addition, of course, a vote on such a motion does not allow the House to come to a substantive decision (and indeed, no votes are allowed in Westminster Hall anyway). There have been calls for private Members' debates to be held on substantive motions, as used to be allowed on several Private Members' Fridays (and some Mondays until 7 pm) until this procedure was abolished in 1995. A similar point, in relation to debates on select committee reports, was put to us by Dr Ian Gibson, Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, and has received the support of the Liaison Committee.[34] We also received suggestions that Early Day Motions (EDMs), which are very rarely debated unless they refer to a particular Statutory Instrument, should be chosen for debate by ballot or by a system based on the number of signatures that they attract.[35]

33. From the inception of debates in Westminster Hall, there has been provision (now contained in SO No. 10) for motions other than adjournment motions, but this provision has not so far been used. Such motions cannot be proceeded with if six Members or more rise and object, and any attempt to force a division results in the matter being referred back to the House (where it can be decided without further debate). The Government expressed concern that introducing substantive motions into Westminster Hall would "fundamentally change its atmosphere".[36]

34. Debates on substantive motions could give rise to two possible outcomes: either the Government would feel obliged to oppose any motion with which it disagreed, and would therefore have to muster enough Members to defeat it; or the Government would not feel under any obligation to do this, but would disregard the consequent resolution of the House.[37] And a motion (eg to take note of a Committee report) which was sufficiently anodyne not to attract opposition would not be of much more effect than an adjournment motion.

35. Some witnesses suggested that a debate should be in some way related to an EDM without involving a potential vote on the EDM.[38] A method of doing this was proposed by the Select Committee on Sittings of the House in 1992 when recommending adjournment debates on Wednesday mornings: "Members should be permitted to include on the Order Paper a reference to any relevant early day motion".[39]

36. We believe that some of the 1½-hour debates in Westminster Hall should be chosen by reference to Early Day Motions with a certain number of signatures (say 200) including some (say at least three) from each of three parties. A reference to the motion (or its full text) would then appear on the Order Paper, but the actual debate would still be on an adjournment motion. Alternatively, the Leader of the House could be asked to arrange for some debates on topics raised by EDMs in Government time.

Tuesday and Wednesday evenings

37. In November 2002 the House decided[40] to experiment with Tuesday and Wednesday sittings beginning and ending three hours earlier than previously (ie from 11.30 am to about 7.30 pm instead of 2.30 pm to about 10.30 pm, subject as usual to a later finish when required). Some Members have expressed interest in using the time thereby made available in the evening for other business, either private Members' bills (which we consider below) or motions of some form. If such business did not involve divisions, it would not require the attendance of particularly many Members.

38. Such sittings would, however, involve the attendance of staff, and the Clerk of the House pointed out to us that staff whose work is directly related to the Chamber, who prepare for and then attend a sitting of at least seven hours, could not be expected to do the same for a sitting regularly lasting for ten hours; more staff would be needed, so that a shift system could be operated. The House authorities had only seven sitting weeks to prepare for the recent changes in hours, and even then, decisions about hours of work could not be made until, for example, the pattern of committee sittings became established.[41] We understand that overtime arrangements etc. are still being negotiated, nearly a year after the change. Accordingly, the Clerk asked for no further change in sitting hours until the House had had at least twelve months' experience of the new pattern.[42] The upheavals concerned were foreseen by the Board of Management in its memorandum to the Modernisation Committee.[43]

39. It is clear from regular questioning of the Leader of the House that many Members are pressing for reconsideration of the changes in hours, so it would be unwise for us to assume, in framing recommendations, that the current sitting hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays will become permanent. If, however, they do, it would be possible to consider debating business of a non-contentious business on a Tuesday or a Wednesday evening, but if this is to receive further consideration, it should be introduced only after appropriate staffing arrangements can be made, not before. One possibility would be to hold such evening sittings in Westminster Hall, an operation involving far fewer staff than the Chamber.

"Injury time" on Opposition Days

40. On one recent occasion (9 September 2003) when a statement needed to be made on an Opposition day, the Government tabled a motion to allow the sitting to continue for an extra hour. We asked the Leader of the House whether he would make this a more general practice, but he pointed out the undesirability of giving extra time on Monday nights, or undermining the House's previous decisions about changing sitting times on other days. He would prefer to keep the matter discretionary.[44] An alternative would be to distribute a statement in written form and proceed straight to questions on it, but the Leader of the House thought this would "devalue the whole nature of proceedings in the House".[45] We do not believe that this proposal should be adopted, but recommend that the Government should respond favourably to requests for extra time on Opposition days when a lengthy statement is expected.

A business committee

41. The Parliament First group advocated the establishment of a Business Committee to "negotiate business on behalf of Parliament with Government", and suggested that it should consist of back-bench Members. The Hansard Society also advocate a business committee.[46] Similar proposals have been made in the past, and some committee of this sort (although not often composed entirely of back-benchers) exists in many other Parliaments. We have not taken enough evidence on this subject to make recommendations in this Report, but note that such arrangements cannot in themselves alter the reality of the system where a Government with an overall majority retains control. We will return to this subject in the future.

3   In this Report "Westminster Hall" refers to the debating room (formerly called the Grand Committee Room) which is adjacent to the north-west corner of Westminster Hall itself. Back

4   See SO No 10 and paragraph 33 for details. Back

5   See Q 51 for a suggestion by Peter Riddell of the Hansard Society that full-day debates were not as effective as shorter ones or statements followed by questions.  Back

6   See Appendix to the Report (p 25), and Q 159 (Clerk of the House) Back

7   SO No 46. Until 1998, the limit, if imposed, was always ten minutes. It is possible for the limit to be imposed between certain hours, but little use is now made of this provision. Back

8   Ev 139 Back

9   Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons, HC 600 (1987-88), para 22 Back

10   Eg HC Deb, 19 November 2002, c 518 Back

11   Q 241 and footnote Back

12   Qq 461, 475-6 Back

13   Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons, HC 1168-I (2001-02), para 89 Back

14   See Mr Tam Dalyell's example (Ev 55) and also Q 203 Back

15   Ev 56; Qq 203-4 Back

16   Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons, Fourth Report, Session 1997-98, Conduct in the Chamber, HC 600, paras 25-8, agreed to by the House on 4 June 1998 Back

17   See Ev 130, 132, 133. Back

18   Ev 53 (Peter Bradley) Back

19   Details of the statistics kept by the Speaker's Office on Members' previous speeches are given in the letter from the Speaker's Secretary, Ev 138-9. Back

20   Ev 55; similar points were made by Mr Forth (Q 383) Back

21   Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons, HC 1168-II (2001-02), Appendix 38 Back

22   See Ev 88-91 and Qq 323-80. Since this evidence was given, a website ( has been established containing the lists of speakers and providing facilities for Lords to add their names. Back

23   This calculation can be made more accurately than in the Commons because interventions in speeches are much rarer (see Qq 369-70). Back

24   For the last option, see Ev 73 (Ann McKechin). Back

25   See Appendix (p 25). The Leader of the House perceived differences of approach on this (Q 445). Back

26   Eg HC Deb, 24 September 2003, c 26. Back

27   The then Shadow Leader of the House (Mr Eric Forth) described the convention as "one of the few protections afforded to opposition Members" (Ev 102; see also Q 411). Back

28   See Ev 129, 131, 135 (twice), 138. See also Ev 132. Back

29   See Ev 34-5 (Clerk of the House) Back

30   See Ev 33, paras 1-4, and Ev 37-8 (Clerk of the House). The custom of referring to Queen's Counsel as "honourable and learned" or serving (or retired) officers in the armed forces as "honourable and gallant" was referred to by the Modernisation Committee in 1998 as "largely falling into disuse": Conduct in the Chamber, HC 600 (1999-2000), para 40. The only remaining distinction is between "right honourable Members" (Privy Counsellors) and others. Back

31   Members of the House of Lords address their speeches to the rest of the Lords in general (Lords SO No 28). Back

32   Ev 34, Qq 145-7 (Clerk of the House) Back

33   SO No 30 (Debate on motion for adjournment of the House) allows the Chair discretion to allow incidental reference to legislative action. Back

34   Ev 133; see also Science and Technology Committee, Second Report, HC 260 (2002-03), para 29 and Annex D; Liaison Committee, First Report, HC 558 (2002-03), para 62 Back

35   Eg Mr Tyler (Q 7), Mr Forth (Q 434), Hansard Society (Ev 17 para 9), Mr Wyatt (Ev 129), Mr Salter (Ev 133), Peter Bradley (Q 248); Ann McKechin (Ev 74) Back

36   Ev 117 para 18; see also Q 492 Back

37   For example, the House agreed (without a division) to a private Member's motion on 1 July 1994 calling for the establishment of a sub-department for the care and welfare of ex-service people, but no action was taken on this. Back

38   Eg Peter Bradley (Q 251) Back

39   Report, HC 20-I (1991-92), para 51. This recommendation was pointed out to us by the Clerk of the House (Ev 37). Wednesday morning sittings were introduced in 1995 (but without the provision for references to EDMs) and transferred to Westminster Hall in 1999. Back

40   With effect from 7 January 2003 to the end of the current Parliament. Back

41   See Qq 185-7 Back

42   Ev 36, para 20 Back

43   Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons, Second Report, HC 1168-II (2001-02), Appendix 41. Back

44   Qq 463-4, 469-70 Back

45   Q 466 Back

46   Qq 1-2, 73-4 Back

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