Memorandum from the Public Bill Office,
House of Commons
INFORMATION ON THE OPERATION OF PROGRAMME
Attached are two Tables on the operation of
Programme Orders on Bills in Session 2001-02 to date. The Public
Bill Office has found that the Orders have been capable of being
operated consistently so that it has been possible to advise the
Chair and Members how proceedings would work out in practice.
But it should be noted that particular circumstances apply to
each Bill and to each programme.
Table B shows that Sessional Order B has been
regularly disapplied. This has had the effect that proceedings
on Report have taken place without consideration by the Programming
Committee of the allocation of time to such proceedings.
Below are some notes which apply to the data
contained in the Tables.
1. The Tables do not differentiate between
Bills in relation to their length nor their importance. For example,
large Bills may have many technical clauses in them or in the
case of some Bills make parallel provisions for different parts
of the United Kingdomthereby reducing the number of debates
on issues of principle or political interest to be covered.
2. Table A does not seek to assess the relative
importance of groups of amendments. For example, the table cannot
show where groups at the end of a selection list for a Bill may
be less important than those in the early part of the list, as
a result of which the Committee (or the House on Report) may be
content to devote most of the time available to the initial debates.
Some groups of amendments not debated may be simply of a drafting
nature or respond to Government undertakings which the House (or
Committee) would have passed over in any event.
3. The Tables do not directly show where
a programme has operated largely by co-operation even where the
introduction of a programme order was opposed (eg on the Proceeds
of Crime Bill, see Official Report 26 February 2002, c583) or
where there was no such co-operation (eg on the Education Bill).
4. When Table A shows that a knife has fallen,
this does not indicate whether this occurred after a full or very
brief or truncated debate.
5. In Standing Committee, some groups of
Amendments, which otherwise would have been disposed of rapidly,
have not been reached before an approaching knife when a Committee
has had to suspend for a division in the House.
Clerk of Legislation
11 April 2002