Revision of Standing Orders - Procedure Contents


The then Clerk of the House wrote to our Chair in July 2014 enclosing the results of a comprehensive review of the House's standing orders which he had commissioned some months previously. The standing orders are frequently added to, repealed or amended. They have been changed more than 200 times between 2000 and the end of last Session, an average of more than 17 revisions a session—and each revision may contain several individual amendments. In the same period there have been 48 new standing orders and 10 repeals. This has had the incidental effect of making the numbering of the standing orders rather erratic, with frequent insertions between existing orders. But despite these continuing changes, the standing orders do not always reflect the developments in the actual practice of the House.

Following discussions with the Acting Clerk of the House and a number of his colleagues, we present in this report a package of revision proposals based on those submitted to us by the then Clerk in July 2014. The revisions aim primarily to remove anomalies and make the standing orders easier to use. We have striven to produce a set of proposals which will help the Government, which under the standing orders has the primary responsibility for setting the House's business, do so in a way which is convenient both for it and for Members, without in any way affecting the ability of Members to hold the Government to account. In short, we have tried to improve the ability of all Members, whether of the Government or not, to use the House's procedures effectively.

The revision proposals are contained in an annex to the report. We have used a colour-coding system to indicate the significance of the changes proposed: red for the most significant, yellow for those less so, and green for purely drafting changes. The annex also contains brief notes explaining all the changes. In the report below, we comment only on those changes where we consider that the notes in the annex do not provide sufficient explanation in themselves. A second annex contains a proposal for the complete renumbering of the standing orders following revision.

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Prepared 9 March 2015