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House of Commons
Session 2000-01

Arrangement of Clauses (Contents)

Standing Orders of the House of Commons - Public Business 2001
 
 
 
The Speaker
Election of the Speaker.     1. - (1) Whenever it is necessary to proceed forthwith to the choice of a new Speaker in consequence of the Speaker having ceased for any reason to be a Member of this House, the chair shall be taken by that Member, present in the House and not being a Minister of the Crown, who has served for the longest period continuously as a Member of this House.
 
      (2) Whenever it is necessary to proceed to the choice of a new Speaker in consequence of an intimation to Her Majesty by the Speaker of his wish to relinquish that office then the Speaker shall continue to take the chair and shall perform the duties and exercise the authority of Speaker until a new Speaker has been chosen, whereupon the Speaker shall leave the chair and shall cease to perform those duties and to exercise that authority and the Speaker Elect shall take the chair accordingly:

Provided that, if when this House proceeds to choose a new Speaker the unavoidable absence of the Speaker has been announced, the Deputy Speaker shall forthwith leave the chair and the chair shall be taken in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (1) of this order.
 
      (3) A Member taking the chair under the provisions of paragraph (1) of this order shall enjoy all those powers which may be exercised by the Speaker during proceedings under paragraph (2) thereof.
 
      (4) When a motion has been made, in accordance with the provisions of this order, that a certain Member do take the chair of this House as Speaker, a question shall be proposed on that motion and the question on any further such motion shall be put as an amendment thereto.
 
 
Deputy Speaker and Chairmen
Deputy Chairmen.     2. At the commencement of every Parliament, or from time to time, as necessity may arise, the House may appoint two Deputy Chairmen of Ways and Means, who shall be known respectively as the First and the Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means, and who shall be entitled to exercise all the powers vested in the Chairman of Ways and Means, including his powers as Deputy Speaker.
 
Deputy Speaker.     3. - (1) The Chairman of Ways and Means or a Deputy Chairman shall take the chair as Deputy Speaker when requested so to do by the Speaker, without any formal communication to the House.
 
      (2) Whenever the House shall be informed by the Clerk at the Table of the unavoidable absence or the absence by leave of the House of the Speaker, the Chairman of Ways and Means shall perform the duties and exercise the authority of the Speaker in relation to all proceedings of this House, as Deputy Speaker, until the Speaker resumes the chair or, if he does not resume the chair during the course of the sitting, until the next meeting of the House, and so on from day to day, on the like information being given to the House, until the House shall otherwise order:

Provided that if the House shall adjourn for more than twenty-four hours the Chairman of Ways and Means shall continue to perform the duties and exercise the authority of Speaker, as Deputy Speaker, for twenty-four hours only after such adjournment.
 
      (3) Whenever the House has been informed by the Clerk at the Table of the unavoidable absence or the absence by leave of the House both of the Speaker, and of the Chairman of Ways and Means, the First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means shall perform the duties and exercise the authority of the Speaker in accordance with paragraph (2) of this order; and if the House should be so informed of the unavoidable absence or the absence by leave of the House of the First Deputy Chairman also, the Second Deputy Chairman shall perform those duties and exercise that authority.
 
Chairmen's Panel.     4. - (1) The Speaker shall nominate, for every session, not fewer than ten Members to act as temporary chairmen of committees when requested by the Chairman of Ways and Means.
 
      (2) The Members nominated in accordance with the preceding paragraph together with the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Deputy Chairmen of Ways and Means shall constitute the Chairmen's Panel.
 
 
Members (Introduction and Seating)
Affirmation in lieu of oath.     5. Every person returned as a Member of this House may make and subscribe a solemn affirmation in the form prescribed by statute instead of taking an oath.
 
Time for taking the oath.     6. Members may take and subscribe the oath required by law at any time during the sitting of the House, before the orders of the day and notices of motions have been entered upon, or after they have been disposed of; but no debate or business shall be interrupted for that purpose.
 
Seats not to be taken before prayers.     7. No Member's name shall be affixed to any seat in the House before the hour of prayers; and the Speaker shall give directions to the doorkeepers accordingly.
 
Seats secured at prayers.     8. Any Member having secured a seat at prayers shall be entitled to retain the same until the rising of the House.
 
 
Sittings of the House
Sittings of the House.     9. - (1) The House shall meet on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at half-past two o'clock and will first proceed with private business, motions for unopposed returns and questions.
 
      (2) No motion for the adjournment of the House shall be made on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday until all the questions asked at the commencement of public business shall have been disposed of, and, save as provided in paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 24 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration), no Member other than a Minister of the Crown may make such a motion on any day before the orders of the day or notices of motions shall have been entered upon.
 
      (3) At ten o'clock on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the proceedings on any business then under consideration shall, save as otherwise provided in paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business), be interrupted; and, if the House be in committee, the chairman shall leave the chair, and report progress and ask leave to sit again; and if a motion has been made for the adjournment of the House (unless that motion is included in a motion to be made after the interruption of business under paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business)), or of the debate, or in committee that the chairman do report progress, or do leave the chair, every such motion shall lapse.
 
      (4) On the interruption of business the closure may be claimed; and if moved, or if proceedings under Standing Order No. 36 (Closure of debate) be then in progress, the Speaker or the chairman shall not leave the chair until the questions consequent thereon and any further question, as provided in Standing Order No. 36 (Closure of debate), have been decided.
 
      (5) An order of the day not disposed of before the termination of a sitting shall be deferred to such day being a day on which the House ordinarily sits as the Member in charge of that order may appoint and any order of the day not reached before the termination of a sitting shall, unless the Member in charge of the order has given other instructions to the Clerk at the Table, stand over until the next sitting.
 
      (6) After the business under consideration at ten o'clock has been disposed of, no opposed business shall be taken, save as provided in Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business).
 
      (7) The House shall not be adjourned except in pursuance of a resolution or by the Speaker in pursuance of Standing Order No. 46 (Power of the Speaker to adjourn House or suspend sitting):

Provided that, when a substantive motion for the adjournment of the House has been made at or after ten o'clock in the evening the Speaker shall, after the expiration of half an hour after that motion has been made, adjourn the House without putting any question.
 

Wednesday sittings. 10.*  (1) The House shall meet on Wednesdays at half-past nine o'clock and shall between that hour and two o'clock proceed with a motion for the adjournment of the House made by a Minister of the Crown.
 
      (2) Save as provided in paragraphs (3) and (4) below, the subjects for debate on the said motion shall be chosen by ballot under arrangements made by the Speaker; and no subject shall be raised without notice.
 
      (3) On the last Wednesday before any adjournment of the House for more than four days, the subject for debate on the said motion until half-past twelve o'clock shall be "matters to be considered before the forthcoming adjournment".
 
      (4) On not more than three Wednesdays in each session to be appointed by the Speaker, the subject or subjects for debate on the said motion until half-past twelve o'clock shall be select committee reports chosen by the Liaison Committee.
 
      (5) Not more than two subjects shall be raised before half-past twelve o'clock, and not more than three between that hour and two o'clock.
 
      (6) A motion for the adjournment of the House not disposed of at two o'clock shall lapse and the sitting shall be suspended until half-past two o'clock; the House will then proceed with private business, motions for unopposed returns and questions; no subsequent motion for the adjournment of the House shall be made until all the questions asked at the commencement of public business have been disposed of; and, save as provided in paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 24 (Adjournment on a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration), no Member other than a Minister of the Crown may make such a motion before the orders of the day or notices of motions shall have been entered upon.
 
Friday sittings.     11. - (1) The House shall meet on Fridays at half-past nine o'clock, and will first proceed with private business, petitions, and motions for unopposed returns.
 
      (2) Standing Orders No. 9 (Sittings of the House) and No. 15 (Exempted business) shall apply to the sittings on Fridays with-

 
    (a) the omission of paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 9; and

 
    (b) the substitution of references to half-past two o'clock for references to ten o'clock in relation to the interruption of business; and

 
    (c) the substitution of reference to half-past three o'clock for reference to eleven o'clock in relation to proceedings on nomination of members of departmental select committees.

      (3) In the application of Standing Order No. 17 (Delegated legislation (negative procedure)) to the sittings on Fridays there shall be substituted references to four o'clock for references to half-past eleven o'clock.

      (4) At eleven o'clock the Speaker may interrupt the proceedings in order to permit questions to be asked which are in his opinion of an urgent character and relate either to matters of public importance or to the arrangement of business, statements to be made by Ministers, or personal explanations to be made by Members.

      (5) If the House is in committee at eleven o'clock, on an occasion when the Speaker's intention to permit such questions, statements or explanations has been made known, the Chairman shall leave the chair without putting any question, and report that the committee have made progress and ask leave to sit again.

      (6) The House, when it meets on Friday, shall, at its rising, stand adjourned until the following Monday without any question being put.

House not to sit on certain Fridays.     12. - (1) The House shall not sit on ten Fridays in each session to be appointed by the House.
 
      (2) If a motion to appoint such Fridays is made by a Minister of the Crown the question thereon shall be put forthwith and may be decided at any hour, though opposed.
 
      (3) At its rising on the Thursday before each of the Fridays so appointed the House shall stand adjourned till the following Monday without any question being put, unless it shall have resolved otherwise.
 
      (4) Unless the House shall have resolved to adjourn otherwise than from the previous Thursday to the following Monday, the Fridays so appointed shall be treated as sitting days for the purpose of calculating any period under any order of the House and for the purposes of paragraph (8) of Standing Order No. 22 (Notices of questions, motions and amendments) and of Standing Order No. 64 (Notices of amendments, &c., to bills); and on such Fridays-
 
 
    (a) notices of questions may be given by Members to the Table Office, and
 
    (b) notices of amendments to bills, new clauses and new schedules and of amendments to Lords amendments may be received by the Public Bill Office,
 between eleven o'clock and three o'clock.
Earlier meeting of House in certain circumstances.     13. - (1) Whenever the House stands adjourned and it is represented to the Speaker by Her Majesty's Ministers that the public interest requires that the House should meet at a time earlier than that to which the House stands adjourned, the Speaker, if he is satisfied that the public interest does so require, may give notice that, being so satisfied, he appoints a time for the House to meet, and the House shall accordingly meet at the time stated in such notice.
 
      (2) The government business to be transacted on the day on which the House shall so meet shall, subject to the publication of notice thereof in the order paper to be circulated on the day on which the House shall so meet, be such as the government may appoint, but subject as aforesaid the House shall transact its business as if it had been duly adjourned to the day on which it shall so meet, and any government order of the day and government notices of motions that may stand on the order book for any day shall be appointed for the day on which the House shall so meet.
 
      (3) In the event of the Speaker being unable to act owing to illness or other cause, the Chairman of Ways and Means, or either Deputy Chairman, shall act in his stead for the purposes of this order.
 
 
Arrangement and Timing of Public and Private Business
Arrangement of public business.     14. - (1) Save as provided in this order, government business shall have precedence at every sitting.
 
      (2) Twenty days shall be allotted in each session for proceedings on opposition business, seventeen of which shall be at the disposal of the Leader of the Opposition and three of which shall be at the disposal of the leader of the second largest opposition party; and matters selected on those days shall have precedence over government business provided that-
 
 
    (a) two Friday sittings shall be deemed equivalent to a single sitting on any other day;
 
    (b) on any day other than a Friday, not more than two of the days at the disposal of the Leader of the Opposition may be taken in the form of four half days, and one of the days at the disposal of the leader of the second largest opposition party may be taken in the form of two half days; and
 
    (c) on any such half day, proceedings under this paragraph shall either-
 
      (i) lapse at seven o'clock if not previously concluded, or
 
      (ii) be set down for consideration at seven o'clock and, except on days on which private business has been set down for consideration under the provisions of paragraph (5) of Standing Order No. 20 (Time for taking private business), shall be entered upon at that time:

      Provided that on days on which business stands over until seven o'clock under the provisions of Standing Order No. 24 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) proceedings under this sub-paragraph shall not be entered upon until such business has been disposed of, and may then be proceeded with for three hours, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 9 (Sittings of the House).
      (3) For the purposes of this order 'the second largest opposition party' shall be that party, of those not represented in Her Majesty's Government, which has the second largest number of Members elected to the House as members of that party.
 
      (4) Private Members' bills shall have precedence over government business on thirteen Fridays in each session to be appointed by the House.
 
      (5) On and after the eighth Friday on which private Members' bills have precedence, such bills shall be arranged on the order paper in the following order:
 
 
         consideration of Lords amendments, third readings, consideration of reports not already entered upon, adjourned proceedings on consideration, bills in progress in committee, bills appointed for committee, and second readings.
     
      (6) The ballot for private Members' bills shall be held on the second Thursday on which the House shall sit during the session under arrangements to be made by the Speaker, and each bill shall be presented by the Member who has given notice of presentation or by another Member named by him in writing to the Clerks at the Table, at the commencement of public business on the fifth Wednesday on which the House shall sit during the session.
 
      (7) Until after the fifth Wednesday on which the House shall sit during the session, no private Member shall-
 
 
    (a) give notice of a motion for leave to bring in a bill under Standing Order No. 23 (Motions for leave to bring in bills and nomination of select committees at commencement of public business); or
 
    (b) give notice for presenting a bill under Standing Order No. 57 (Presentation and first reading); or
 
    (c) inform the Clerks at the Table of his intention to take charge of a bill which has been brought from the Lords.
      (8) A private Member's bill to which the provisions of paragraphs (2) to (6) of Standing Order 97 (Scottish Grand Committee (bills in relation to their principle)) have applied, and which has been considered by a Scottish Standing Committee (or by a special standing committee), shall not be set down for consideration on report so as to have precedence over any private Member's bill so set down which was read a second time on a day preceding that on which the bill was reported from the Scottish Grand Committee under paragraph (3) of that Standing Order.
 
      (9) An order appointing a day for the second reading of a private Member's bill shall lapse at the rising of the House on the preceding sitting day if at that time the bill has not been printed and delivered to the Vote Office, and the House shall make no further order appointing a day for the second reading of the bill until it has been printed.
 
*  Not in effect during the 2000-2001 session of Parliament and until the end of the next session of Parliament. back to *
 
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© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 26 January 2001