Proposals for procedural change
54. The Hansard Society and several Members made
suggestions for changes in procedure, usually involving the establishment
of a Committee to consider the relative merits of Private Members'
Bills and allocate time to them (with provision for the questions
to be put at the end of that time, as with programming of Government
bills). Such a system
exists in the Canadian House of Commons: the Standing Committee
on Procedure and House Affairs decides which items of private
Members' business (bills or motions) is to be designated as 'votable'
and entitled to a vote on second reading after a total of 2¾
hours' debate, or 'non-votable' with an hour's debate and no vote.
The Clerk of the House told us that the system had caused a serious
rift in procedural relations between the political parties.
55. Baroness Gardner of Parkes wrote to us
enclosing remarks that she made in the House of Lords on 26 June
2003, pointing out
that Private Members' Bills passed by the House of Lords go to
the back of the queue when they reach the House of Commons. Of
the 42 such bills passed by the Lords between 1997-98 and 2001-02,
five received Royal Assent (and a sixth was taken up by the Government).
There does not appear to be a way to grant higher priority to
Lords' bills other than by displacing the ballot bills, though
it would, of course, be possible for a Member to reintroduce a
Lords' Bill in the Commons as a ballot bill in the following session.