1st Report from the Procedure
House of Lords Reform Act 2014:
consequential changes to the procedures of the House
1. The House of Lords Reform Act received Royal
Assent on 14 May 2014. There are various consequential changes
that need to be made to the procedures of the House to reflect
the provisions of the Act.
2. Section 1 of the Act, which comes into force
on 14 August, provides that a member may retire or resign from
the House by giving notice in writing to the Clerk of the Parliaments.
Resignation may not be rescinded. The recommendations of the Leader's
Group on Members Leaving the House, taken forward in the 5th report
of the Procedure Committee 2010-12, established a voluntary retirement
scheme. The voluntary retirement scheme was not underpinned by
legislation so members who retire will continue to receive a writ
of summons at the beginning of every Parliament, theoretically
allowing them to return to the House if they wished. It was widely
suggested at the time when that informal scheme was introduced
that it was a temporary measure until legislation could put such
a scheme on a formal footing.
3. We recommend that the informal retirement
scheme set out in paragraphs 1.32 to 1.37 of the Companion to
Standing Orders should be discontinued and that those members
who have taken advantage of the informal scheme should be invited
to consider whether they wish to retire under the new statutory
4. Section 2(1) of the Act states that "a
member of the House of Lords who is a peer and does not attend
the House of Lords during a Session ceases to be a member of the
House at the beginning of the following session." This section
of the Act comes into force on 14 August and applies from the
following session, i.e. a peer who does not attend during the
first session of the new Parliament will cease to be a member
at the beginning of the second session. Members who have taken
Leave of Absence or are disqualified from attending are excluded
from this provision.
5. There are currently few members who do not
attend the House at least once in a session who have not taken
Leave of Absence. This is in large part due to the system set
out in paragraph 1.28 of the Companion to Standing Orders whereby
the Clerk of the Parliaments, having consulted a sub-committee
of this Committee comprising the Chairman of Committees, the Chief
Whips and the Convenor, writes to those peers who attended very
infrequently in the previous session, inviting them to apply for
leave of absence.
6. We recommend that at the start of each
session the Clerk of the Parliaments should continue to write
to members who attended infrequently in the previous session inviting
those members to take Leave of Absence. This system should be
used to ensure that all members are aware of the provisions of
section 2 of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014.
7. Section 4(7) of the Act states that Standing
Orders of the House must make provision requiring the holding
of a by-election to fill any vacancy which arises if an elected
hereditary member leaves the House under any of the provisions
of the Act. Since Standing Order 10, which governs by-elections,
refers only to filling "vacancies occurring by death",
the Standing Orders need to be amended so that a by-election is
held if a peer resigns or is excluded under the provisions of
8. We recommend that Standing Order 10 should
be amended as follows:
10(1): after "death" insert ",
or resignation or expulsion from the House under the House of
Lords Reform Act 2014,"
10(2) and 10(3): after "death" insert
"or resignation or expulsion".
Tabling Questions for Written
Answer in recesses
9. Questions for Written Answer (QWAs) may not
be tabled during recesses, except for two days during the summer
recess: normally the first Monday in September and the first Monday
in October. The two tabling days in the summer recess were first
introduced in 2006 and echoed a similar move in the House of Commons,
where three September tabling days were introduced explicitly
to compensate MPs for the decision to stop sitting in September
after several years of doing so.
10. In 2007, this House agreed to the Procedure
Committee's recommendation that the two tabling days should become
a permanent fixture, subject to the Leader of the House being
given "discretion to vary the standard pattern of dates,
by agreement through the Usual Channels, in case of exceptional
recess dates". The House of Commons reintroduced September
sittings in 2010 and accordingly they no longer have any recess
11. We have considered whether there is a case
for increasing the number of tabling days during summer recesses
and concluded that there should be one tabling day in each week
that the House of Commons sits but the House of Lords does not.
12. We recommend that with immediate effect,
there should be one tabling day for Questions for Written Answers
for every week when the House of Commons sits but the House of
Lords does not, in addition to retaining the tabling day on the
first Monday of October. The Leader should retain discretion to
vary the pattern of dates, by agreement of the Usual Channels,
in case of exceptional recess dates.
Legislative Consent Motions
13. Legislative Consent Motions are the mechanism
by which the devolved assemblies indicate their consent to certain
categories of legislation that are being considered by the UK
Parliament but affect Scotland, Wales and/or Northern Ireland.
When a Legislative Consent Motion has been agreed by a devolved
assembly this is indicated next to the bill it relates to in the
Bills in Progress section of the House of Lords Business.
There is however no system of making the House aware when a devolved
assembly has rejected a Legislative Consent Motion. In these circumstances
it is up to the relevant Secretary of State to inform Parliament.
14. The House has received representations from
the Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales asking
whether we would review our procedures so that Members are informed
through the Order Paper when a Legislative Consent Motion has
been rejected by a devolved legislature. The Scottish Parliament
and Northern Ireland Assembly support such a change.
15. We recommend that the House should be
informed through a note in the House of Lords Business document
when a devolved assembly has rejected a Legislative Consent Motion
relating to legislation under consideration by this House.