Sixth report of session
2010-12 from the procedure committee|
Leave of Absence Sub-Committee
1. Further to the House's agreement to the Committee's
Fifth Report on Members Leaving the House, on 27 June 2011, we
have appointed a Leave of Absence Sub-Committee. The Sub-Committee
will be chaired by the Chairman of Committees, and made up of
those holding the offices of Chief Whip of the three main parties
and Convenor of the Crossbench Peers. The first Members of the
Sub-Committee are therefore as follows:
Baroness Anelay of St Johns
Lord Bassam of Brighton
Lord Brabazon of Tara (Chairman)
Lord Shutt of Greetland
Motions relating to negative instruments
2. We have considered a letter from Lord Knight
of Weymouth to the Chairman of Committees, suggesting that it
should in future be permissible to add "reasons" to
a prayer to annul a negative instrument.
3. Lord Knight draws attention to a comment in
the report of the Joint Committee on Conventions in 2006, that
"the most constructive way for the Lords, as the revising
Chamber, to reject an SI is by motion (or amendment) incorporating
a reason, making it clear both before and after the debate what
the issue is." The Joint Committee also remarked in a footnote
that while such reasons could, in the case of an affirmative instrument,
be set out in an amendment to the motion to approve the instrument,
appending such a reason to a prayer to annul a negative instrument
would be "novel".
4. We believe that it would be helpful to Members
and to the Government if reasons could be appended to prayers
to annul negative instruments. However, we emphasise that it is
for ministers to decide how to exercise powers delegated to them
by Parliament, subject to whatever form of parliamentary control
is set out in the primary legislation. A prayer to annul a negative
instrument, if agreed to, is final and irreversible. The reasons
added to such a motion should be just thatreasons explaining
why it has been tabled. It would be undesirable, and indeed constitutionally
inappropriate, for further conditions or requirements to be added
to the motion, for instance calls that the Government should take
certain steps before re-laying the instrument.
5. We therefore propose that such "reasoned
prayers" should typically take the following form: "Lord
[name] to move that a Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty
praying that the [title] Regulations 2011, laid before the House
on [date], be annulled, on the grounds that [insert reasons]."
The Clerks would be authorised to refuse to table motions which
did not follow this form.
6. We recommend that in future Members should
be permitted to add reasons to prayers to annul negative instruments.
Such motions should be in the form set out in paragraph 5 above.
MULTIPLE MOTIONS ON NEGATIVE INSTRUMENTS
7. At present motions relating to negative instruments
are, in accordance with Standing Order 40, required to be "entered
in the Order Paper in the order in which they are received at
the Table." Until recently this caused little difficulty,
as such motions were relatively rare. However, in a recent case,
on 22 March 2011, three motions were tabled on one instrument.
The first was non-fatal (a motion of regret), the second fatal
(a prayer to annul) and the third non-fatal (another motion of
regret). This does not make sense: a fatal motion, if agreed to,
would normally pre-empt non-fatal motions. It should therefore
be decided upon first.
8. The simplest way to allow greater flexibility
is to add negative instruments be added to those categories of
business listed in Standing Order 40(8), whose precedence may
be varied "if the convenience of the House so requires."
This would allow some adjustment to be made to the ordering of
multiple motions on a single negative instrument. We do not propose
that negative instruments be added to those categories of business
listed in Standing Order 40(4), which have precedence over other
types of business on all sitting days except Thursdays. Thus on
those days motions on negative instruments will continue to be
placed on the Order Paper after Public Bills, Measures, Affirmative
instruments and reports from Select Committees.
9. We therefore recommend that the words ",
negative instruments" should be added, after "affirmative
instruments", in Standing Order 40(8). The effect
of this change will be that a prayer to annul a negative instrument
will normally be entered in the Order Paper before other motions
relating to the same instrument.
Balloted Thursday debates
10. In its Third Report of this session the Committee
recommended as follows:
- 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.
11. These recommendations were agreed by the
House on 16 December 2010. As a result, the list of Motions for
balloted debate was withdrawn from House of Lords Business
on 4 April, after the final balloted debates covering the
period up to the end of May were drawn.
12. We have now decided that the list of motions
for balloted debate should be reopened on Monday 5 September.
The date for the first balloted debates, which will fall in October,
has yet to be agreed, but will be published when the list is opened.
13. We have also considered the timetable for
balloted Thursday debates for the remainder of this session and
for future sessions. Prior to the House's decision last December,
and to the change in the sessional timetable, the rule was that
in a normal full session every Thursday from the beginning of
the session until the end of June was set aside for general debates;
one Thursday in each month up to the Whitsun recess was set aside
for two balloted debates. With a view to replicating a similar
pattern, we recommend that in the current and in future sessions
one Thursday in each month up to the end of December should be
set aside for two balloted debates.
1 Report of the Joint Committee on Conventions, Session
2005-06 (HL Paper 265-I), p 63. Back