Companion to the Standing Orders and guide to the Proceedings of the House of Lords



Personal statements

5.01  A member may by leave of the House make a short factual statement of a personal character, such as a correction of information given in a speech made by him in the House or a reply to allegations made against him in the House. Personal statements are usually made at the beginning of business and are not debatable.

Ministerial statements (oral)[166]

5.02  Statements by ministers on matters of public importance may be made by leave of the House without notice. Such statements are commonly synchronised in the two Houses, and it is normal for the House of Lords to be informed after oral questions, by a government announcement, of the time when the statement will be made. Annunciators in the House also show this information.


5.03  If the responsible minister is a Member of the House of Commons, the statement is made first in that House and may be repeated in the House of Lords. The timing is agreed through the usual channels.

5.04  If the responsible minister is a member of the House of Lords, the statement is usually made after questions (on Fridays, at the beginning of business).

5.05  If the House is in committee, it is resumed on the motion of a member of the government for the purpose of hearing the statement. When the statement and exchanges following it are finished, the House again resolves itself into a committee, on the motion of the Lord in charge of the bill. On days when there are two balloted debates or time-limited debates, any Commons statement repeated in the House is normally taken between the two debates. Only in exceptional circumstances are such debates interrupted for a statement.

5.06  There is no limit on the number of ministerial statements that can be made in one day, but lengthy interruption of the business of the House is not desirable. Ministerial statements made in the Commons are repeated in the Lords if the usual channels so wish.[167] If the Lords are not sitting on a day on which a statement is made in the Commons, it is not the practice to repeat it when the Lords next sit, save in the case of an exceptionally important statement.


5.07  Ministerial statements are made for the information of the House, and although brief comments and questions from all quarters of the House are allowed, statements should not be made the occasion for an immediate debate.[168] The time for the two Opposition front benches and the minister's reply to them should be limited to 20 minutes;[169] ministers should not, however, cut short their replies, even if this means going beyond the 20-minute limit.[170] The period of questions and answers which then follows for backbench members should not exceed 20 minutes from the end of the minister's initial reply to the Opposition spokesmen.[171] If a debate upon a statement is desired, a notice should be tabled for a later date.


5.08  Where a statement contains material which is too lengthy or too complicated to be given orally in the House the additional material may be published in Hansard without being given orally.[172]

5.09  Where a Commons statement is not repeated an italic reference to the appropriate place in the Commons Hansard is made on the cover of the Lords daily Hansard.[173]

Written statements

5.10  Written statements may be made when the House is sitting, by Ministers or the Chairman of Committees. Notice is not required. Written statements are placed in the Library as soon as they are received, and are printed in Hansard.[174]

166   Procedure 2nd Rpt 1984-85. Back

167   When considering whether to require repetition of a Statement made in the Commons on a Wednesday, the usual channels bear in mind the extra pressure on business created by the late start, and consider the additional options of (i) a Private Notice Question on the subject of the Statement and (ii) taking the Statement the next day (Procedure 2nd Rpt 2005-06). Back

168   Procedure 1st Rpt 1987-88, 1st Rpt 2002-03. Back

169   Procedure 1st Rpt 1998-99. Back

170   Procedure 1st Rpt 2000-01. Back

171   Procedure 1st Rpt 1994-95. On 18 September 2003, the time allowed for backbenchers was extended to 40 minutes (HL Deb. col. 1057). On 26 January 2004, additional time was allowed for an intervention by the Lord Chief Justice (HL Deb. col. 12). On 7 February 2007, the Convenor of the Crossbench Peers was permitted to intervene during the time for the front benches (HL Deb. col. 710). Back

172   SO 36, Procedure 1st Rpt 1941-42; 4th Rpt 1963-64, 2nd Rpt 1966-67; 3rd Rpt 1984-85; 1st Rpt 1988-89; 1st Rpt 1989-90. Back

173   Procedure 1st Rpt 1987-88; 1st Rpt 1998-99. Alternatively, a statement may with the leave of the House be included in Lords Hansard without being given orally. The Government Chief Whip informs the House of the statement and seeks leave to have it reproduced in Hansard. 7th Rpt 1970-71. Back

174   Procedure 1st Rpt 2003-04. Back

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