Select Committee on Procedure of the House Second Report



SECOND REPORT FROM THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE OF THE HOUSE


TUESDAY 4 APRIL 2000


BY THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON PROCEDURE OF THE HOUSE

ORDERED TO REPORT:

1.  REVISION OF THE COMPANION TO THE STANDING ORDERS:

APPOINTMENT OF SUB-COMMITTEE

  The Committee appointed Lord Carter, Viscount Colville of Culross, Viscount Falkland and Lord Skelmersdale as the members of the sub-committee on revision of the Companion to the Standing Orders.

2.  THE QUEEN'S SPEECH

  The Committee agreed that the Lord Chancellor should no longer read out The Queen's Speech at the beginning of the resumed sitting after the State Opening of Parliament, but that instead the Speech should be printed in Hansard.

3.  PROCEDURE ON CONSIDERATION OF COMMONS AMENDMENTS

  The Committee agreed a simplification of the procedure for considering Commons Amendments or Reasons. In future the Lord in charge of the bill should always move the initial motion (which is usually to agree with the Commons); and any motion to disagree should be tabled and moved as an amendment to the motion of the Lord in charge.

  This would deal with all eventualities according to a standard procedure, similar to that with which the House is familiar for amendments to amendments at other stages of bills. It would apply to motions to disagree with Commons amendments, to insist on Lords amendments, and to make amendments in lieu or consequential amendments. It should replace the present complication of having different procedures for different circumstances, which sometimes leads to confusion.

4.  SUB JUDICE

  The Committee agreed to a new sub judice resolution as follows:

"MATTERS SUB JUDICE

    That, subject to the discretion of the Leader of the House, and to the right of the House to legislate on any matter or to discuss any delegated legislation, the House in all its proceedings (including proceedings of committees of the House) shall apply the following rules on matters sub judice:

    1.  Cases in which proceedings are active in United Kingdom courts shall not be referred to in any motion, debate or question.

      (a)(i)  Criminal proceedings are active when a charge has been made or a summons to appear has been issued, or, in Scotland, a warrant to cite has been granted.

        (ii)  Criminal proceedings cease to be active when they are concluded by verdict and sentence or discontinuance, or, in cases dealt with by courts martial, after the conclusion of the mandatory post-trial review.

      (b)(i)  Civil proceedings are active when arrangements for the hearing, such as setting down a case for trial, have been made, until the proceedings are ended by judgment or discontinuance.

        (ii)  Any application made in or for the purposes of any civil proceedings shall be treated as a distinct proceeding.

      (c)  Appellate proceedings, whether criminal or civil, are active from the time when they are commenced by application for leave to appeal or by notice of appeal until ended by judgment or discontinuance.

    But where a ministerial decision is in question, or in the opinion of the Leader of the House a case concerns issues of national importance such as the economy, public order or the essential services, reference to the issues or the case may be made in motions, debates or questions.

    2.  Specific matters which the House has expressly referred to any judicial body for decision and report shall not be referred to in any motion, debate or question, from the time when the Resolution of the House is passed, until the report is laid before the House.

    3.  For the purposes of this Resolution—

      (a)  Matters before Coroners Courts or Fatal Accident Inquiries shall be treated as matters within paragraph 1(a);

      (b)  `Question' includes a supplementary question."

  The resolution was recommended by the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege because it is desirable that each House should be in the same position to debate a sub judice matter when the circumstances warrant it. The resolution adds to the discretion already exercised by the Leader of the House to allow discussion of matters which are sub judice in cases of ministerial decisions and issues of national importance. In being asked to exercise that discretion the Leader must be given at least 24 hours' notice; and the exercise of the Leader's discretion may not be challenged in the House.[1] These conditions should also apply to the wider discretion which the Committee now recommends should be conferred on the Leader.


1   Procedure, 1st Rpt 94-95. Back


 
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