The Procedure Committee recommends that the pilot scheme for allocating debates on Estimates days, recommended by the Procedure Committee in the last Parliament, be brought into effect immediately for the remainder of the 2017–19 Session.
Under the pilot, the Backbench Business Committee will make a proposal to the Liaison Committee for allocation of debates on Estimates days, on the basis of bids received from Members. The Liaison Committee will make a recommendation to the House as provided for in Standing Order No. 145, which is expected to be in line with the Backbench Business Committee proposal. The House will be invited to agree formally with the Liaison Committee recommendation.
In return, the Backbench Business Committee is asked to agree to make a determination of business to be taken on a number of backbench days in the Chamber equivalent to the number of allotted Estimates days, in line with proposals from the Liaison Committee. It is envisaged that these debates will be on select committee reports, and may arise on either general or substantive motions.
The first debates to be allocated under the pilot will be on the Supplementary Estimates for 2017–18, and associated requests for supply, which are expected to be laid before the House in the week of 5 February 2018. The Committee recommends that two days should be allocated for these debates. The Government is encouraged to provide for as much time as possible between the presentation of the Estimates and the days the Government plans to allot to the debates, to allow backbench Members the time to examine the estimates and prepare bids to be submitted to the Backbench Business Committee.
The Committee envisages that debates under the pilot will arise on broad subjects enabling discussion of the spending of a particular Department or associated public body. Debate may also arise on Estimates where proposed changes to the expenditure of departments in England give rise to consequential changes in the block grants to the devolved institutions.
18 January 2018