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


Tabling of amendments

7.48  Amendments may be moved in committee, on report and on third reading. The following section describes the procedure for dealing with amendments in committee. The procedure is substantially similar on report and third reading; the differences at these later stages are described at paragraphs 7.127-7.132 and 7.139-7.143.

7.49  Amendments may be tabled in the Public Bill Office at any time after second reading. When the second reading and committee stages are expected to take place on the same day, amendments are accepted by the Public Bill Office before second reading. The late tabling of amendments is strongly deprecated since members have only a limited time to consider them and, if necessary, move amendments to them.[260]

7.50  Amendments which are intended to be published the next working day should be tabled between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Mondays to Thursdays, and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Fridays. Amendments may be tabled with the duty Clerk during recesses, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.[261]

7.51  A Guide to House of Lords amendment style is available to members from the Public Bill Office.

Admissibility of amendments

7.52  The Public Bill Office advises on whether an amendment is admissible and it is expected that this advice will be taken. If a member insists on tabling an amendment which the Public Bill Office has advised is inadmissible, the Leader of the House draws the House's attention to the advice when the amendment is called, and asks the House to endorse the opinion of the Public Bill Office. The reason for this is that the admissibility of an amendment can ultimately be decided only by the House itself, there being no authority that can in advance rule an amendment out of order. The following general rules are observed:

  • amendments must be relevant to the subject matter of the bill[262] and to the clause or Schedule to which they are proposed;
  • amendments proposed at committee or any other stage must not be inconsistent with a previous decision taken at that stage, except where alternative amendments are proposed to the same place in the bill;
  • amendments to a Schedule are not in order if they go beyond the scope of, or are contrary to, the relevant clause which has been agreed to;
  • amendments to the long title are not in order unless they are to rectify a mistake in the original title, to restate the title more clearly, or to reflect amendments to the bill which are relevant to the bill but not covered by the former long title;
  • clause headings, and headings placed above parts of the bill or above groups of clauses, are technically not part of the bill and so are not open to amendment. Punctuation is also technically not part of the bill.

7.53  Tabling amendments to bills originating in the House of Commons is unprofitable if such amendments appear to be "material and intolerable infringements" of Commons financial privilege, in that they impose a charge not covered by the terms of the money or Ways and Means resolutions in the Commons, unless there is reason to believe that the Commons will pass a supplementary financial resolution (see paragraph 7.173).

Printing of amendments

7.54  All amendments to a particular bill tabled on the same day are printed in one daily sheet, and are not numbered at this stage. The names of members supporting an amendment are printed above it, up to a maximum of four names, or five if the Lord in charge of the bill adds his name.[263]

Rules of marshalling

7.55  Subject to the rules listed below, amendments are printed in the order of their page, line and word references in the bill, taking account of any instruction that has been tabled. The rules are as follows:

7.56  Accordingly amendments are marshalled as follows:

Clause 1
  • Amendment No.
  • 1  Page 1, line 5, leave out subsection (1)
  • 2  Page 1, line 5, leave out subsection (1) and insert- "(1) —"
  • 3  Page 1, line 6, leave out "word"
  • 4  Page 1, line 6, leave out "word" and insert "words"
  • 5  Page 1, line 6, after "word" insert "usually"
  • 6  Page 1, line 7, leave out "4" and insert "5"
  • 7  Page 1, line 7, leave out "4" and insert "6"
  • 8  Page 1, line 7, leave out "4" and insert "7"
  •   (If amendment 6 is agreed to, the Question is put on amendment 7 thus:
    • "Page 1, line 7, leave out "5" and insert "6"
  • and on amendment 8 thus:
    • "Page 1, line 7, leave out "5" [or "6"] and insert "7"".)
  • 9  Leave out Clause 1 and insert the following new Clause—"—"
  • Lord A gives notice of his intention to oppose the Question that Clause 1 stand part of the bill
  • 10  Transpose Clause 1 to after Clause 46
  • Marshalled lists

    7.57  On the day before that appointed for the committee, the various amendments are numbered and published as a "marshalled list", arranged in the order they will be considered, taking account of any instruction. Italic notes to leave out a clause or Schedule are not given a number when printed in the marshalled list. If further amendments are tabled on the day before the committee they are printed on supplementary sheets or are incorporated in a revised marshalled list. Any amendments not previously published, and amendments which have been altered since they were last published, are distinguished from other amendments by being marked with a on the marshalled list, but are otherwise treated identically to other amendments.[266] When the committee stage is not completed in one day, further amendments may be tabled, which are printed on sheets supplementary to the marshalled list and on further marshalled lists.

    Manuscript amendments

    7.58  Whenever possible, notice should be given of any amendments. However, except on third reading it is in order to move, as manuscript amendments, amendments of which notice has not been given on the marshalled list. Occasionally a manuscript amendment is justified, even in the course of debate, for instance to correct an amendment already tabled or when an amendment under consideration is objected to and it is clear that with slight alteration of language it would become acceptable to the committee. However, manuscript amendments should rarely be moved, since other members of the House will not have had an opportunity to consider them and may be deprived of the opportunity of moving amendments to them.

    7.59  When a manuscript amendment is moved, the text of the amendment is read out to the committee both by the mover and by the Lord on the Woolsack or in the Chair when putting the Question, unless the House or committee otherwise directs.

    All amendments to be called

    7.60  There is no selection of amendments. Every amendment printed on a marshalled list, and manuscript amendment, is called in turn by the Lord on the Woolsack or in the Chair, subject only to pre-emption. An amendment which has been tabled need not be moved, but if none of the members named as supporters of the amendment moves it any other member may do so.[267] Once an amendment has been moved, it can be withdrawn only by leave, which must be unanimous. If there is no such unanimity the Question on the amendment is put.


    7.61  If an amendment has been pre-empted by one previously agreed to by the House, e.g. because the text proposed to be amended has been left out of the bill, the amendment will not be called. The Lord on the Woolsack or in the Chair alerts the House to this possibility, normally when putting the text of the pre-empting amendment after it has been moved, but sometimes (e.g. when the amendment is a key one which is certain to be divided on) when calling the pre-empting amendment.

    Grouping of amendments

    7.62  In order to avoid repetition, related amendments are often grouped and debated together. Lists of such groupings are prepared by agreement between the members tabling the amendments and the Government Whips' Office, and are made available to the House. Groupings are informal and not binding. A member may speak to a group of amendments (not necessarily consecutive or in his own name) when the first amendment in the group is called. Usually only the first amendment in a group is moved (in the technical sense that there is a Question specifically on it before the House) and the rest are at this stage merely spoken to. The debate takes place on the first amendment in the group, even though it may be a minor or paving amendment. But each amendment in the group must be called, moved (if desired) and disposed of separately at its place in the marshalled list. Proceedings on later amendments in a group are often formal but further debate may take place and an amendment previously debated may be moved at its place in the bill.[268] When proceedings on later amendments in a group are formal, the amendments are moved as follows:

      "My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move."

    7.63  If the first amendment in a group is agreed to, it does not follow that the other amendments in the group will all be agreed to, unless they are directly consequential. It is a matter for the House or committee to judge in each case how the decision on the first amendment affects the others.


    7.64  If a member believes that an amendment at committee or report stage has been wrongly grouped, he should make this clear in debate. Otherwise, under the rule against reopening at third reading an issue which has previously been decided, he may be precluded from retabling his amendment at third reading, if another amendment in the group was decided at committee or report stage (see paragraph 7.142).[269]

    260   Procedure 2nd Rpt 1976-77. Back

    261   Procedure 1st Rpt 1998-99. Back

    262   See HL Deb. 6 February 1968, cols 1075-1086. Back

    263   Procedure 1st Rpt 1974-75. Back

    264   HL Deb. 11 June 1964, cols 986-1001; Procedure 1st Rpt 1983-84. But on report and third reading an intention to leave out a clause or Schedule is a substantive amendment. Back

    265   e.g. HL Deb. 21 January 1997, col. 586. Back

    266   But see paragraph 7.49. Back

    267   HL Deb. 21 March 1984, col. 1325. Back

    268   Procedure 2nd Rpt 1976-77, 1st Rpt 1987-88. Back

    269   Procedure 2nd Rpt 1991-92. Back

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