Select Committee on Procedure of the House First Report



  This Appendix lists existing conventions of which, in our opinion, Lords particularly need to be reminded. It is not a comprehensive list of the conventions of the House; and it is NOT a summary of our proposals for changes to procedure.

Starred Questions

  1. Supplementaries should be short, and confined to no more than two points.

  2. Supplementaries should keep to the subject of the Question, and should seek information rather than state opinion.

  3. Supplementaries should NOT be read.


  4. Lords who find, in a debate such as a Second Reading, that all their points have been made already by others, should say so and sit down.

  5. Speeches on amendments should be confined to the point of the amendment. Second Reading speeches on amendments are unacceptable.

  6. A Lord who decides not to move an amendment should rise and say "Not moved" when it is called; he should not make a speech. If he wishes to make a speech, he should say "I beg to move" (at either the beginning or the end of his speech); then, after other Lords have spoken, he should reply to the debate, and either beg leave to withdraw or seek a decision.

  7. At Report and Third Reading, and when considering Commons amendments, Lords should speak to each amendment only once, and should not continue the debate after the Minister's speech. The device of speaking "before the Minister (or other noble Lord) sits down" is legitimate for a genuine intervention, but must not be used to make a second speech.


  8. Only brief comments and questions for clarification are allowed.

General courtesies

  9. Lords should bow to the Cloth of Estate on entering the Chamber, though not on leaving. Lords should also bow when the Mace passes.

  10. A Lord who is taking part in a debate is expected to attend the greater part of that debate. It is considered discourteous for him not to be present for the opening speeches, for at least the speech before and that following his own, and for the winding-up speeches.

  Ministers cannot be expected to answer, orally or in writing, points made by a speaker who does not stay to hear the Minister's closing speech.

  A Lord who becomes aware in advance that he is unlikely to be able to stay until the end of a debate should normally remove his name from the list of speakers. Putting it another way, a Lord who expects the House to listen to what he has to say should extend the same courtesy to others.

  11. Reading of speeches is alien to the custom of the House. In practice, some speakers may wish to have extended notes from which to speak, but it is not in the interests of good debate that they should follow them too closely.

  12. Lords should never address one another in debate as "you". Speeches are not private conversations.

  13. Lords should refer to "the noble Lord, the Minister", or simply "the Minister", but NOT "the noble Minister".

  14. The Lord who follows a maiden speaker (and ONLY that Lord) should congratulate him on behalf of the whole House. Other Lords should not leave the Chamber while this takes place.

  15. Lords should not pass between the Lord who is speaking and the Lord on the Woolsack or in the Chair.

  16. Lords should not move about the Chamber while a Question is being put from the Woolsack or the Chair. This does not of course apply when the Lord Chancellor is speaking as a Minister, whether from beside the Woolsack or from the front bench.

  17. Lords should not bring books or newspapers into the Chamber, except for reference in debate.

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