CHAPTER 3 SITTINGS AND DOCUMENTS OF THE
3.01 The House usually sits for public business
on Mondays and Tuesdays at 2.30 p.m., on Wednesdays at 3 p.m.
and on Thursdays at 11 a.m. The House also sits on Fridays
at 10 a.m. when pressure of business makes it necessary. It is
a firm convention that the House normally rises by about 10 p.m.
on Mondays to Wednesdays, 
by about 7 p.m. on Thursdays, and by about 3 p.m. on Fridays.
The time of meeting of the House can be varied to meet the convenience
of the House. In exceptional circumstances the House has met on
Saturday and on Sunday.
3.02 The length of a session within a Parliament
is at the discretion of the Government. Since 2010 sessions have
started and ended in the late spring.
3.03 The House breaks for recesses as follows:
- over Christmas and
New Year (usually two weeks);
- sometimes in late February (up to one week);
- at Easter (one or two weeks);
- over the Spring Bank Holiday (one week); and
- in the summer (usually between late July and
3.04 Before each day's sitting the Lord Speaker
walks in procession from her room to the Chamber, preceded by
During the procession, doorkeepers and security staff ensure that
the route is unobstructed. The procession crosses the Prince's
Chamber and moves down the Not-content Lobby, entering the Chamber
from below Bar on the temporal side. The Lord Speaker continues
up the temporal side of the House to the Woolsack. After the Bishop
has read the Psalm, the Lord Speaker and other members present
kneel or stand for prayers. When these have been read, the Lord
Speaker takes her seat on the Woolsack.
3.05 If the Lord Speaker is absent at the beginning
of the sitting, the Deputy Serjeant-at-Arms (the Yeoman Usher),
alone, takes the Mace by way of the Library Corridor to meet the
Deputy Speaker and Black Rod in the Peers' Lobby.
3.06 Prayers are read at the beginning of each
sitting. Ordinarily prayers are read by one of the Bishops, who
take a week each in turn.
In the absence of a Bishop, a member of the House who is an ordained
minister of the Church of England may read prayers. If no such
member is present, the Lord on the Woolsack reads prayers. The
prayers are printed in appendix J (page 273). During prayers the
doors and galleries of the House are closed and visitors are excluded.
3.07 The quorum of the House is three, including
the Lord Speaker or Deputy Speaker. There is however a quorum
of 30 for divisions on bills and on any motion to approve or disapprove
3.08 During the course of business the Lord Speaker
may be replaced on the Woolsack by a Deputy Speaker. When one
Lord takes the place of another on the Woolsack, there is no interruption
of business. The Lord who is to preside stands at the side of
the Woolsack, on the spiritual side. The Lord on the Woolsack
rises and moves to the temporal side. They bow to each other.
The Lord previously on the Woolsack withdraws and the replacement
sits down on the Woolsack.
3.09 At the end of business a member of the government
moves "That the House do now adjourn." The Lord
Speaker puts the Question, but does not collect the voices because
this Question is not usually debated. If any member of the House
wishes to debate it, the Lord Speaker should be informed beforehand.
3.10 As soon as the Lord Speaker has put the
Question for the adjournment she leaves the Chamber by the temporal
side and the Bar, preceded by the Mace, and returns in procession
to her room via the Law Lords' and Library Corridors.
3.11 If a Deputy Speaker is on the Woolsack when
the House adjourns, the above ceremony is observed, but the Deputy
Speaker leaves the procession in the Peers' Lobby.
3.12 If the House wishes to meet in secret, a
motion of which notice is not required is made to that effect.
When an order for a secret sitting is made, the Chamber is cleared
of everyone except members of the House, the Clerks at the Table
and Black Rod. Members of the House of Commons are not required
3.13 Certain types of business may take place
in Grand Committee. The procedure in a Grand Committee is the
same for each type of business as the procedure would have been
in the House when such business is considered, except that divisions
may not take place in Grand Committee.
3.14 A Grand Committee is a committee of unlimited
member of the House may participate in it. Only one Grand Committee
sits on any one day. The place of meeting is usually the Moses
3.15 The following types of business may take
place in Grand Committee:
(a) Committee stages of public bills (only one
bill per daysee paragraph 8.101)
(b) Motions to consider affirmative instruments
(see paragraph 10.17)
(c) Motions to consider negative instruments
(see paragraph 10.10)
(d) Motions to take note of reports of select
committees (see paragraph 11.37), or of the Intelligence and Security
Committee (see paragraph 11.79)
(e) General motions for debate (see paragraph
(f) Questions for short debate (see paragraph
(g) Debates on proposals for National Policy
Statements, laid before Parliament under the Planning Act 2008
(see paragraph 10.58).
3.16 In addition, second reading debates on Law
Commission bills may take place in a "Second Reading Committee"
in the Moses Room, though this is not formally a Grand Committee
(see paragraph 8.43).
3.17 Grand Committees sit for times agreed in
advance, irrespective of the rising of the House.
Notice of the proceedings is given in House of Lords Business.
The normal sitting times
of Grand Committee are:
- Monday, Tuesday 3.30-7.30
- Wednesday 3.45-7.45
- Thursday 2-6 p.m.
3.18 Committee proceedings begin at the appointed
time without any preliminary motion. Members speak standing and,
so far as they can, observe the same degree of formality as in
the Chamber. Forms of words used in Grand Committee are the same
as in Committee of the whole House. The committee adjourns for
10 minutes for a division in the House. If the committee is to
break (e.g. for a division or a statement in the Chamber), and
when it adjourns at the end of the day's proceedings, the committee
is simply adjourned without Question put. The verbatim report
of the Grand Committee's proceedings is published, and the minutes
are published as an appendix to the Minutes of Proceedings.
3.19 The leave of the House is required before
certain procedures or items of business can proceed. Similar rules
apply in Committees of the whole House.
3.20 In certain cases where leave is sought,
it is granted by majority and the objection of a single member
of the House is not sufficient to withhold leave. Leave is granted
(a) to ask questions;
(b) to make ministerial or personal statements;
(c) to take business not on the order paper of
which notice is not required;
(d) to speak more than once to a motion.
3.21 In other cases leave must be unanimous,
notably in those cases where, if leave were granted, the House
or committee would be deprived of having a Question put.
Leave is withheld if a single member of the House objects to:
(a) withdrawal of an amendment or a motion which
is before the House;
(b) moving motions, amendments and clauses en
bloc (see paragraph 3.49);
(c) moving a motion that the order of commitment
or recommitment of a bill be discharged;
(d) moving a motion or asking a question when
the mover or questioner is absent, unless the authority of the
member named on the order paper has been given;
(e) postponing business without notice till later
the same day.
3.22 Leave is usually obtained without putting
the Question; but if necessary, the Question "that leave
be given" could be divided upon in a case where leave
may be granted by a majority decision. However, this would be
exceptional, as a member who requests leave usually tests the
feeling of the House and, if there is opposition to leave being
granted, the request is generally withdrawn.
3.23 SO 86 provides that no motion shall be agreed
to for making a new standing order, or for dispensing with a standing
order, unless notice has been given on the order paper. Consequently,
when it is desired that a standing order should be suspended for
a specific period, or dispensed with for a particular purpose,
notice of a motion, customarily in the name of the Leader of the
House, is inserted on the order paper under the heading "Business
of the House". Such motions are taken before other notices
relating to public business. SOs 40 (arrangement of the order
paper) and 46 (no two stages of a bill to be taken on one day)
are sometimes suspended when pressure of business increases before
a recess or prorogation, to enable the government to arrange the
order of business and to take more than one stage of a bill at
3.24 The House publishes three core documents
giving information about the business that the House has done
and the business it expects to do:
- House of Lords
single document containing future business and the Minutes of
Proceedings, the daily record of business transacted;
- the white order paper (the agenda for the day);
- Hansard (the official report of what is said
3.25 On sitting days, copies of the order paper
are available from the Printed Paper Office, from the desks in
the Peers' Entrance, and from the desks adjacent to the Chamber
in the Prince's Chamber and Peers' Lobby.
3.26 House of Lords Business
is printed after each sitting day and is also published on the
Internet. It shows future business to be taken in the House, so
far as it has been tabled or definitely arranged.
It also includes:
(a) business of which notice has been given but
for which no day has been named. This business is grouped under
(i) Motions for balloted debates;
(ii) Select committee reports for debate (with
the date on which the report was published);
(iii) Other motions for debate;
(iv) Motions relating to delegated legislation;
(v) Questions for short debate;
(b) a list of questions for written answer tabled
that day, together with a table showing any written questions
which remain unanswered after 10 working days. A cumulative list
of all unanswered written questions is published on the parliamentary
after each sitting day;
(c) lists of bills, Measures and various types
of delegated legislation in progress, showing the stage reached
by each and the next date on which they will be taken, if known;
(d) notices of committee sittings.
3.27 The Minutes of Proceedings of the House
are also contained in House of Lords Business. They are
issued under the authority and signature of the Clerk of the Parliaments.
The Minutes record actions or decisions of the House rather than
what is said in the Chamber. For this reason some "silent"
entries are included which happen off the floor.
3.28 The Minutes of Proceedings are compiled
in the following order:
(a) preliminary matters, such as prayers, introductions,
members taking the oath, messages from the Queen and matters relating
to leave of absence;
(b) select committee report printing orders;
(c) private business (except where such business
is taken part-way through public business);
(d) public business, in the order in which it
is taken in the House;
(e) minutes of proceedings of Grand Committees,
Second Reading Committees and public bill committees;
(f) papers laid before the House.
THE USUAL CHANNELS
3.29 The Government Chief Whip is responsible
for the detailed arrangement of government business and the business
of individual sittings. The smooth running of the House depends
largely on the Whips of the main political parties. They agree
the arrangement of business through the "usual channels".
The usual channels consist of the Leaders and Whips of the three
main political parties. For certain purposes the usual channels
include the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers.
3.30 Motions or questions may be handed in to
the House of Lords Table Office on sitting days between 10 a.m.
and House Up; the Table Office may also be contacted during these
hours by telephone (020 7219 3036). Motions or questions may also
be sent at any time by post, email or fax to the House of Lords
Table Office (fax 020 7219 3887; email @SCLINK@firstname.lastname@example.org@FCLINK@).
In addition, while the House is sitting they may be handed in
at the Table. At other times (e.g. non-sitting Fridays or recesses)
business may be handed in between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., either to
the Table Office or to the Duty Clerk, using the same contact
3.31 Whenever any new notice is put down in House
of Lords Business, or any material alteration is made to the text
of an existing motion or question, it is marked with a dagger
() to draw attention to it.
3.32 Business may be tabled any length of time
in advance, up to the end of the session, except:
- oral questions, which
may be tabled up to four weeks in advance including recesses;
- motions and questions
for short debate, which may be tabled up to four weeks in advance
3.33 A member of the House who wishes a notice
to appear in House of Lords Business before a specific
date has been fixed for it may enter it under either "Motions
for Debate", "Questions for Short Debate" or "Motions
relating to Delegated Legislation". There is no strictly
formulated rule against anticipation; but:
(a) a member should not put down for a specific
date a question or subject for debate which already appears in
the name of another member under any of the undated headings without
first consulting that member; and
(b) it is not in the interests of good order
and courtesy that a member should table for an earlier day a question
or motion similar to one that has already been tabled for a particular
3.34 Italic notes are often used to give the
House advance notice of business that is not yet in a position
to be tabled.
3.35 Notices may be withdrawn or put down for
a later date by the member of the House in whose name they stand.
Oral questions and questions for short debate may be brought forward
to an earlier day without leave, at the request of the member
asking the question. Other notices can only be brought forward
by leave of the House obtained on a motion, of which notice must
be given. Such a motion is generally moved by the Leader of the
3.36 Business of which notice is required (see
paragraph 3.38) must first be called before it can proceed. Questions
and motions are called by the Clerk, in the order in which they
appear on the order paper.
Amendments to bills are called by the Lord on the Woolsack or
in the Chair, in the order of the marshalled list. Amendments
to motions are called by the Lord on the Woolsack.
3.37 If a member of the House is absent when
a motion or question standing in his or her name is called and
has authorised another member to act on his or her behalf, that
member may do so, explaining the situation. Otherwise, the motion
or question cannot be proceeded with on that day unless unanimous
leave is granted by the House.
In that case, when the Clerk has called the motion or question,
a member may ask for leave to move the motion or ask the question
standing in the name of the absent member. If there is a single
dissenting voice, the House passes on to the next business. Notice
must be given before business not proceeded with can be taken
on a subsequent date. This paragraph does not apply to government
motions, which may be moved by any member of the government without
leave, or to amendments to bills (see paragraph 8.64).
BUSINESS OF WHICH NOTICE IS REQUIRED OR NOT REQUIRED
3.38 Business of which notice is required must
appear at least on the white order paper of the day on which it
is to be taken, and wherever possible also in House of Lords
Notice must be given of oral questions, questions for short debate
and all motions except those which the House customarily allows
to be moved without notice. The following list, which is not exhaustive,
shows what business the House in practice allows to be taken without
(a) business which does not involve a decision
of the House:
(i) Royal Assent;
(ii) obituary tributes and personal statements;
(iii) ministerial statements and private notice
(iv) statements or questions on business, procedure
(v) oaths of allegiance;
(vi) presentation of public petitions;
(b) manuscript amendments to bills and motions;
(c) business expressly exempted from the need
to give notice,
(i) messages from the Crown;
(ii) introduction of bills;
(iii) messages from the Commons and first reading
of Commons bills;
(iv) consideration of Commons amendments and
reasons, though reasonable notice should be given when possible;
(d) motions relating to the way in which the
House conducts its business, for example:
(i) motions for the adjournment of a debate,
or of the House;
(ii) the motion to go into Committee of the whole
House for more freedom of debate on a motion;
(iii) in Committee of the whole House, motions
to adjourn debate on an amendment, or to resume the House;
(iv) the motion that leave be not given to ask
(v) the motion that the noble Lord be no longer
heard (see paragraph 4.54);
(vi) the Closure (see paragraph 4.60);
(vii) the Next Business motion (see paragraph
(viii) the motion that the Lord X be appointed
Lord Speaker pro tempore;
(ix) the motion that the House should meet in
secret (see paragraph 3.12).
ORDER OF BUSINESS
3.39 The House proceeds with the business of
each day in the order in which it stands on the order paper.
Business is entered on the order paper in the order in which it
is received at the Table, subject to the following main conditions
laid down in SO 40:
(a) oral questions are placed first;
(b) private business is, subject to the Chairman
of Committees' discretion, placed before public business;
(c) business of the House motions and, if he
so desires, the Chairman of Committees' business (for example,
consideration of reports from domestic committees) are placed
before other public business;
(d) on all days except Thursdays,
public bills, Measures, affirmative instruments and reports from
select committees of the House have precedence over other public
business. On Thursdays, the general debate day,
motions have precedence over public bills, Measures and delegated
(e) any motion relating to a report from the
Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee on a draft order
laid under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006, or
a subordinate provisions order made or proposed to be made under
the Regulatory Reform Act 2001, is placed before a motion to approve
(f) any motion relating to a report from the
Joint Committee on Human Rights on a remedial order or draft remedial
order laid under Schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act 1998 is placed
before a motion to approve that order or draft order;
(g) questions for short debate are placed last,
even when it is known that they will be taken in the lunch or
3.40 Royal Assent is frequently notified before
oral questions, but may be notified between any two items of business
or at the end of business, if necessary after an adjournment.
3.41 Private bills are entered on the order paper
after oral questions.
But if a private bill is likely to be debated on second or third
reading it may be entered at a later point on the order paper.
Similarly, if a debate unexpectedly arises upon a private bill,
the Chairman of Committees may propose the postponement or adjournment
of that stage of the bill either to a time later in the same day,
or to another day. Members intending to debate any stage of a
private bill should accordingly give notice of their intention
to the Chairman of Committees. Private bills may also be entered
at a later point on the order paper at the discretion of the Chairman
3.42 The order in which business is usually taken
is as follows:
(c) oaths of allegiance (or at the end of business);
(d) the Lord Speaker's leave of absence;
(e) messages and answers from the Crown;
(f) Royal Assent (or at any convenient time during
(g) Addresses of congratulation or sympathy to
(h) notification of death and obituary tributes;
(i) personal statements;
(j) oral questions;
(k) private notice questions;
(l) presentation of public petitions;
(m) questions of privilege;
(n) statements on business;
(o) ministerial statements (or at the first convenient
(p) presentation of new Lords bills (or at the
end of business);
(q) messages from the Commons (or at any convenient
time during the sitting);
(r) private bills, at the discretion of the Chairman
(s) business of the House motions;
(t) motions to amend Standing Orders;
(u) motions relating to the Chairman of Committees'
business, if he so desires;
(v) motions for the appointment of select committees;
(w) public business;
(x) questions for short debate.
VARIATION OF ORDER OF BUSINESS
3.43 Under SO 40(8) the order of notices relating
to public bills, Measures, affirmative instruments and reports
from select committees can be varied by agreement of the members
in whose names the notices stand. Such variations are subject
to SO 40(4) and (5) so that on Thursdays notices relating to public
bills, Measures and delegated legislation may not be advanced
before notices relating to motions, even with the consent of those
affected. In such cases a formal motion is required to vary the
order of business.
3.44 Where it is wished to vary the order of
business beyond the terms of SO 40(4) and (5), a "business
of the House" motion may be put down to suspend or dispense
with SO 40. The Standing Order is sometimes suspended so far as
is necessary to give the government power to arrange the order
3.45 Business may be postponed until later the
same day without notice, with the unanimous leave of the House.
When the Clerk has called the business, the Lord in charge of
the business says, "Unless any noble Lord objects, I beg
to move that X be postponed until after Y". If this is
agreed to, the House proceeds to the next business on the order
3.46 If business is adjourned, the House may
without notice make an order for the adjourned business to be
taken later on the same day or taken first on some specified future
subject to the rules governing the order in which categories of
business may be taken.
LUNCH AND DINNER BREAKS
3.47 The main business of the day is often interrupted,
usually around 7.30 p.m., for other business to be taken during
the dinner break. On days when the House sits in the morning there
may be a lunch break at around 1.30 p.m. Lunch or dinner break
business is marked as such in House of Lords Business.
Interruptions of this sort may also be announced after oral questions
by means of a business statement. At the desired time a motion
is moved that the proceedings be adjourned or, if the House is
in committee, that the House be resumed. It is usual at this point
for an indication to be given that the main business will not
be resumed before a certain time. The House then proceeds to consider
the next business on the order paper. If this is disposed of before
the time indicated for the resumption of business, the House adjourns
until that time.
3.48 If the intention is simply to interrupt
the proceedings for a period without taking any other business,
a motion is moved that the House do adjourn during pleasure until
a stated time. If the House is in committee, however, the proceedings
may, with the consent of the committee, be interrupted without
any Question being put. If such an interruption is proposed, and
no member of the House objects, the Lord in the Chair announces:
"The committee stands adjourned until -".
MOTIONS EN BLOC
3.49 Certain categories of motion may be moved
en bloc when they are not expected to be debated. This
means that a single Question is put and decided. The categories
are as follows:
(a) Motions to approve affirmative instruments
(see paragraph 10.16);
(b) Motions to reappoint or to fill casual vacancies
on select committees (see paragraphs 11.06 and 11.10);
(c) Stages of consolidation bills (see paragraph
(d) Motions to carry over private bills.
3.50 Moving other categories of motion en
bloc may be authorised by business of the House motion.
3.51 The following rules apply:
- Notice must be given,
by means of an italic note in House of Lords Business.
- If a single member objects, the motions must
be moved separately to the extent desired.
3.52 For moving amendments and clauses en
bloc, see paragraphs, 8.72, 8.134 and 8.167.
3.53 The Official Report, or Hansard, is the
substantially verbatim record of debates and proceedings in the
House and Grand Committee. It also comprises:
(a) the text of written statements and of replies
to questions for written answer.
Statements or answers that are excessively lengthy are normally
placed in the Library rather than being printed (see paragraph
(b) proceedings in public bill committees;
(c) certain items not spoken in the Chamber that
are the subject of formal minute entries, relating to the progress
(d) a hyperlink (in the online version) to the
electronic texts of various relevant documents, including reports
from domestic or select committees, copies of Bills or Statutory
Instruments, and other official documents of direct relevance
to the debate;
(e) texts of amendments moved;
(f) division lists.
3.54 Hansard is produced by an Editor and staff
who are accountable to the Clerk of the Parliaments. It is published
online in draft form throughout the day, approximately three hours
behind real time. This is replaced the following morning by the
completed online daily transcripts, at the same time as the printed
version is produced. If the House sits after 2.30 a.m., a cut-off
time on material printed may be imposed, with the remaining business
from that sitting appearing in the next daily part and a draft
copy of the text to be printed being made available in the Library.
Corrections are made to the online text once published to ensure
that it remains accurate and authoritative. A small number of
bound volumes are also printed some months after the period covered.
CORRECTION OF SPEECHES
3.55 When correcting their speeches, members
should not attempt to alter the sense of words spoken by them
in debate. Corrections are accepted only when the words that were
actually spoken have been incorrectly reported. The procedure
for suggesting corrections to be included in the bound volumes
is printed on the inside cover of each daily part.
3.56 The Journals are the permanent official
record of the proceedings of the House, compiled from the Minutes
of Proceedings. The Journals differ from the Minutes in that they
include a daily record of members present, most reports of the
domestic committees of the House, the letters patent of peers
on introduction, and an index. All copies of the Journals of either
House are admitted as evidence by the courts and others.
If required in evidence, a copy or extract of the Journals, authenticated
by the Clerk of the Parliaments, may be supplied on payment of
PAPERS LAID BEFORE THE HOUSE
3.57 The Minutes of Proceedings record each day
the titles of various documents, or "papers", presented
or laid in the House on that day and also those laid since the
last sitting. These papers fall into two main categories:
(a) papers presented by command of Her Majesty
on the initiative of a minister of the Crown. These are known
as "Command papers". The majority are published in a
numbered series currently labelled "Cm". Command papers
may be presented at any time during the existence of a Parliament,
including non-sitting days, recesses and prorogation;
(b) papers laid before the House pursuant to
an Act, statutory instrument or Measure. These are known as "Act
papers". They may be of either a legislative or an executive
character, and they may be either subject to a degree of parliamentary
control (depending on the provisions of the parent statute) or
3.58 Papers may also be laid as Returns to an
Order of the House, for example in response to a motion for papers,
though this is now rare.
3.59 Certain statutory instruments can be laid
when the House is not sitting for public business, namely those
instruments (apart from special procedure orders) which are required
to be laid before Parliament after being made, but which do not
require to be approved by resolution or lie before Parliament
for any period before they come into operation.
The times when such instruments may be deposited are those shown
in the table.
3.60 No papers of any type may be laid during
a dissolution of Parliament.
3.61 If it is necessary to bring a statutory
instrument into operation before it has been laid before Parliament,
the responsible department must submit a notification and explanation
to the Lord Speaker.
Their receipt is recorded in the minutes of the next sitting day's
DAYS WHEN PAPERS MAY BE LAID
3.62 Papers may be laid on the days and times
set out in the table.
PAPERS MAY BE
||TIME AT WHICH PAPERS MAY BE DEPOSITED IN PRINTED PAPER OFFICE
Papers may not be laid
|House sitting for public business
||9.30 a.m. (or start of business if earlier)
||5 p.m. (or rising of the House if later)
|Non-sitting day (Monday to Friday)
3.63 Departments wishing to lay Command papers or
statutory instruments outside these hours must make special arrangements
for their receipt with the Printed Paper Office
3.64 Members of the House are entitled to obtain
free of charge from the Printed Paper Office such current parliamentary
papers and other publications as they clearly require to discharge
their current parliamentary duties.
- Command papers;
- Act papers;
- statutory instruments;
- Acts and Measures;
- any document printed pursuant to an order of either House;
- other working papers of the House, including bills, explanatory
notes on bills, amendments, House of Lords Business and
Hansard (Lords and Commons);
- papers relating to the work of the European Union.
3.65 Members are entitled to one copy of these papers.
If they have spoken in a debate, they are entitled to collect
up to six copies of the Lords Hansard in which their speech is
3.66 Members of the House may also obtain, free of
charge, government publications up to a price limit.
Papers above the price limit are available for consultation in the
Library of the House. Any publication referred to in a motion or
question for short debate which has been set down for a named day
in House of Lords Business will be supplied free to any member
on request. Other publications will also be supplied free of charge,
provided that they are required for the discharge of the member's
current parliamentary duties. Historical, technical, scientific
or reference and similar classes of publications will not generally
be supplied to members free of charge, unless specially authorised
by the Clerk of the Parliaments. Further details can be found in
the Handbook on facilities and services for Members.
3.67 Members of the House may order through the Printed
Paper Office any government publications which are not available
to them free of charge, and also extra copies of papers above
their basic entitlement. These papers are sent to members together
with an invoice.
3.68 In order to enable the Printed Paper Office
to provide a prompt service to all members of the House, members
should first consult the Library when the identification of a
paper is in doubt, or when they wish to find answers to specific
questions from published sources.
3.69 Members of the public may petition the House
of Lords, but only a member of the House may present a petition.
Members of the House should give the following guidance to members
of the public who ask them to present petitions on their behalf.
3.70 Petitions to the House of Lords begin:
"To the Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal
in Parliament assembled, The humble Petition of [names or designation
of petitioners] sheweth".
3.71 The general allegations of the petition follow.
The petition ends with what is called a "prayer", setting
out what the petitioners desire the House to do. After the prayer
are added the words "And your Petitioners will ever pray
&c." followed by the signatures. The petition may
be written, printed or typed on paper. At least one signature
must be on the same sheet as the petition. The signatures must
not be stuck on to the paper. The petition of a corporation should
be under its common seal, which must be affixed to the first sheet.
3.72 Members of the House presenting petitions should
sign them, and either send them to the Clerk of the Parliaments
or hand them in at the Table.
In either case, having notified the Table in advance, they rise
in their place after oral questions and say:
"My Lords, I beg to present a petition from [names or
designation], which prays that this House will [the prayer is
3.73 They may add:
"The petition bears X signatures."
but no speech may be made and no debate follows.
3.74 Petitions relating to a public bill may be presented
at any time during its passage through the House. A petition relating
to a bill which has not been before the House, or which has already
been rejected by it, cannot be presented.
3.75 The presentation of a petition is recorded in
the Minutes of Proceedings, and the petition is retained in the
Parliamentary Archives for one year. However, no order is made
for the petition to be printed unless a member of the House puts
down a motion to debate it for a designated day; otherwise no
3.76 A member proposing to present a petition should
consult the Journal Office at an early stage.
3.77 A message is the means of formal communication
between the two Houses. It is used for sending bills from one
House to the other, for informing one House of the agreement or
disagreement of the other to bills or amendments, for requesting
the attendance of staff of either House as witnesses, for the
exchange of documents, for the setting up of joint committees,
to obtain agreement to the suspension of proceedings on legislation
from one session to the next, and for other matters on which the
two Houses wish to communicate.
3.78 Messages to the Commons are taken by a Lords
Clerk and handed to the Serjeant at Arms. Messages from the Commons
are brought by a Commons Clerk to the Bar of the House and presented
to the Clerk at the Table. There is no special ceremony for the
arrival of a message, and the business of the House proceeds without
82 Procedure 5th Rpt 2001-02. Back
e.g. the House sat on a Saturday and a Sunday at the outbreak
of the Second World War and in 1982 met on a Saturday to discuss
the situation in the Falkland Islands: LJ (1938-39) 383-4, (1981-82)
216. The House attended the State Funeral for Sir Winston Churchill
in St Paul's Cathedral on Saturday 30 January 1965. Back
The procession consists of a Doorkeeper, followed by the Deputy
Serjeant-at-Arms (the Yeoman Usher) or Principal Doorkeeper bearing
the Mace, followed by the Lord Speaker. In the Prince's Chamber,
Black Rod joins the end of the procession. Procedure 4th Rpt 2005-06. Back
The two Archbishops and the Bishops of London, Durham and Winchester
do not take part in this rota. Back
SO 57. Back
SO 15. Back
Report to the Leader from the Group on sittings of the House:
HL Paper (1993-94) 83, paragraph 20; Procedure 1st Rpt 2005-06. Back
Procedure 2nd Rpt 2008-09. Back
Procedure 3rd Rpt 2003-04. Back
Procedure 2nd Rpt 2005-06. Back
SO 31. Back
SO 42(3). Back
Each week the Government Whips' Office publishes a separate document
entitled 'Forthcoming Business', which informally advertises business
for the following week and that provisionally proposed for subsequent
The list is published at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld/ldcumlst.htm.
Procedure 1st Rpt 1969-70. Back
See paragraph 6.26 for a full explanation of the times at which
oral questions may be tabled. Back
SO 43. Back
Procedure 5th Rpt 1966-67. Back
SO 42(1). Back
Procedure 5th Rpt 1966-67, 1st Rpt 1975-76. Back
SO 39. Back
Procedure 2nd Rpt 1992-93. Back
SO 36, Procedure 5th Rpt 1970-71. Back
Procedure 5th Rpt 1970-71. Back
SO 41. Back
Procedure 1st Rpt 1987-88. Back
SO 62, HL Deb. 16 June 1958 col. 892. Back
SOs 39, 40. Back
Procedure 6th Rpt 2005-06. Back
See paragraph 6.49. Back
SO 40(6). Back
SO 40(7). Back
Procedure 2nd Rpt 1958-59. Back
Procedure 4th Rpt 1964-65. Back
SO 41(3). Back
SO 42(3). Back
SO 45. Back
Adjournments "during pleasure" are breaks in a sitting
for specified or unspecified periods. Back
Procedure 2nd Rpt 2006-07. Back
SO 44. Back
Procedure 1st Rpt 1969-70. Back
Evidence Act 1845, s. 3. The Act does not extend to Scotland. Back
SO 70. Back
125 Statutory Instruments Act 1946, s. 4, as
amended by Sch. 6 to the Constitutional Reform Act 2005; SO 71. Back
126 Procedure 2nd Rpt 2006-07. Back
127 Offices 4th Rpt 1966-67. Back
128 Currently £50:
see the Handbook on facilities and services for Members (May
129 SO 74. Back