Back to the future? Procedure after coronavirus restrictions Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Our report

1.We call on the Government to commit to protect substantive motions on House business with a Business of the House motion which reserves time for debate and decision. (Paragraph 8)

2.We endorse the factors set out by the Leader of the House in his letter to the Chair of 21 December as determining the Government’s approach to the management of the House during the pandemic. We note that not all of the matters concerned are within the Government’s control. However, we believe that there will be additional principles and factors that should be taken into account when we make decisions on the House’s procedure. (Paragraph 16)

3.In accordance with the Government’s plans for a cautious and steady easing of lockdown restrictions, we call for the temporary orders to be extended to the beginning of stage 4 (currently 21 June). (Paragraph 25)

4.We recommend that the House reverts to all aspects of its pre-pandemic practice and procedure. (Paragraph 26)

5.Substantive changes to procedure and practice should be made by the House on a motion put down with sufficient notice to allow for the proper tabling and selection of amendments. Anything else curtails free expression and potentially hides the consensus on procedural change that is in everyone’s interest to find. (Paragraph 27)

6.We recommend that the House Service is given an explicit mandate from the Commission to extend the scope of its development of hybrid proceedings and the resources necessary to separate it from the day-to-day demands of running the Chamber. This does not presuppose further extension in either scope or duration of hybrid proceedings, but would serve to de-risk aspects of hybrid sittings and enable ancillary benefits (for example within the House’s business continuity plans or as part of preparations for Restoration and Renewal) to be realised. (Paragraph 32)

7.We are not convinced that, with an effective card reader voting system in place, the conduct of EVEL votes should be any more difficult than with tellers. Consistent with the Leader’s assurances above on returning to the status quo ante we urge the Government to reinstate the EVEL Standing Orders as soon as possible. We will consider this issue further and whether any changes to the procedures are desirable during our inquiry into the procedure of the House of Commons and the territorial constitution. (Paragraph 36)

8.The public business Standing Orders have not been systematically reviewed for several years. We agree with the Leader that it would be a useful exercise to review that work and this is a matter to which we will turn our attention in the next Session. (Paragraph 43)

Published: 14 March 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement