Third Report Of Session
2010-11 From The Procedure Committee
Motions to fill Select Committee
vacancies en bloc
1. The Chairman of Committees is already authorised
to move motions to reappoint Select Committees at the start of
a new session en bloc. The normal rules regarding the taking
of motions en bloc apply: two sitting days' notice must
be given, by means of an italic note in House of Lords Business;
and if any Member objects, the motions are moved separately to
the extent desired.
2. We recommend that the same procedure, and
the same safeguards, be applied to motions to fill casual vacancies
on Select Committees. This will remove the need for a series
of motions to be taken one at a time, as has happened on two occasions
(on 22 July and 15 November) in the present session.
3. In light of the current two-year session,
which will run until around Easter 2012, and the Government's
plans to run annual sessions thereafter from spring to spring,
the Leader of the House has proposed the following changes to
the arrangements for Thursday debates:
· That general debate days in the current
session should run from the start of the session (May 2010) to
the end of May 2011, and from the return of the House in October
2011 until the end of January 2012;
· That in future sessions general debate
days on Thursdays should run from the start of the session until
the end of January the following year.
4. The Clerk of the Parliaments has provided
data on Thursday debates in previous one-year sessions, along
with projections for the current session. These show that, allowing
for unavoidable uncertainties regarding recess dates, the Leader's
proposals will provide the same number of general debate days
on Thursdays as the current rules:
|Number of Thursday debate days
|Number of Government Thursdays
|8 (June-Sept 2011)
8 (Feb-March 2012)
5. We therefore support the Leader's proposals,
as set out in paragraph 3 above, and recommend them to the House.
Marine Policy Statement
6. We have agreed that the same procedure as
that applying to National Policy Statements should be applied
in respect of the draft United Kingdom Marine Policy Statement,
which was laid before the House on 21 July. The procedure was
set out in full in our Second Report of 2008-09,
and is summarised in the Companion, paragraphs 10.72-10.73.
It is not expected that there will be any further Marine Policy
7. Earlier this year, following the announcement
on 28 May of 56 new Peers, the House agreed that up to three introductions
should be allowed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in order
to allow these new Peers to be introduced before the summer recess.
8. On Friday 19 November the Prime Minister announced
a further 54 new Peers. In order to assist their timely introduction,
we recommend that the House again make use of the flexibility
allowed for in exceptional circumstances by paragraph 1.13 the
Companion, to increase the maximum number of introductions
each week to 11. This would mean a maximum of three introductions
on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and two on Wednesdays. We
recommend that this increase in the rate of introductions should
run until the House rises for the February half term recess, at
which point the usual arrangements would resume.
9. In order to minimise the impact on business,
we further propose that on days where there are three introductions
planned, the House should sit 15 minutes earlier than the usual
sitting time (in other words, at 2.15pm on a Monday or Tuesday,
and at 10.45am on a Thursday). There will be no change to
Wednesday sitting times.
Topical oral questions
10. We have considered a proposal from the Leader
of the Opposition and the Opposition Chief Whip to increase, for
the duration of the current two-year session, the limit on the
number of balloted topical oral questions allowed for each Member.
11. The limit is currently set at four topical
questions per Member per session (Companion, paragraph
6.31). This limit was raised from two in 2002 when, for a trial
period, the number of topical questions was increased to five
per week. Even though the trial was not a success, and the number
of topical questions was cut to three per week in 2004, the limit
of four per member per session remained in place. The limit applies
regardless of the length of the session: the same limit applied
in the long 2005-06 session as in the short 2009-10 session.
12. We agree that, in light of the exceptionally
long session now under way, there should be a one-off increase
in the limit. However, we are aware that, with many new Members
joining the House, there is a growing pool of Members who may
wish to enter the ballot for topical questions.
13. We therefore recommend that, for the duration
of the current session, the limit on the number of balloted topical
oral questions should be increased to five per Member.
14. We have considered a letter from Lord Jopling
to the Chairman of Committees, in which he points out that the
guidance in paragraph 4.32 of the Companion regarding attendance
at debates (namely that it is "considered discourteous for
a member not to be present for the opening speeches") does
not apply to oral statements. As a result, Members of the House
may come into the Chamber while a statement is being read out,
and then ask questions, to the detriment of those Members who
have been present throughout.
15. We are persuaded that this is an anomaly,
which should be rectified. We therefore invite the House to
agree the following provision, to take effect immediately and
to be incorporated in the next edition of the Companion
after the present paragraph 6.07:
"As a matter of courtesy, Members who wish
to ask questions on an oral statement should be present to hear
the whole of the statement read out."
16. We are conscious that the new provision will
have to be applied with a degree of flexibility, given that the
timing of repeated oral statements is often uncertain. We look
to the front benches in particular to ensure that the new provision
is applied sensitively, and in accordance with the spirit of self-regulation.
1 This assumes that no Thursdays will be required
for emergency Government business. Back
Estimated figure, as recess dates are not known. For the purpose
of making the estimate it is assumed that one Thursday will be
lost for a February recess, and that prorogation will take place
on Wednesday 4 April 2012 (Easter falls on Sunday 8 April). Back
HL Paper 165. Back
See Procedure Committee, First Report, session 2010-11 (HL Paper
10), agreed on 24 June 2010. Back