Select Committee on Procedure of the House Third Report


Third Report from the Select Committee on Procedure of the House



MONDAY 3 JULY 2000



BY THE SELECT COMMITTEE on Procedure of the House

ORDERED TO REPORT:

1.  Humble Address for Queen's Consent

  When a private member's bill in the Lords is directed substantially to the Queen's prerogative, the practice is for the private Member to move an Address seeking the Consent of the Crown before the bill is introduced. This motion may be debated and opposed.

  The origins of this procedure are unclear and it is confined to private members' bills. The procedure does not exist in the Commons. The procedure can have the effect of denying the House any sight of the bill because the bill cannot be introduced if the motion for the Humble Address is successfully opposed.[1] In the opinion of the Committee, it is not desirable that the House should, on a technicality, be able to reject a bill before seeing it and debating it.

  The Committee therefore recommends that the practice relating to Queen's Consent should be the same for private members' bills as for government bills. In the case of a bill substantially affecting the prerogative, the government should, on behalf of the private Member, seek Queen's Consent and, if it is granted, a minister who is a Privy Counsellor should announce it to the House before second reading.

  Her Majesty the Queen has been consulted about this recommendation and is content to let the House decide the issue.

2.  Human Rights: changes to Standing Orders arising from the appointment of a Joint Committee

  In the expectation that the two Houses of Parliament will agree to appoint a Joint Committee on Human Rights before the summer recess, and in view of the coming fully into force of the Human Rights Act 1998 on 2 October 2000, the Committee recommends amendments to standing orders consequential on such an appointment. A motion to amend the Standing Orders would only be tabled after the House has agreed to the appointment of a Human Rights Committee.

  The changes proposed are set out below. They would have the following effects:

    —  to add the new joint committee to the list of sessional committees whose business is not interrupted by prorogation; and

    —  to make the joint committee responsible for scrutiny of remedial orders made under the Human Rights Act 1998, and to relieve the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments of that responsibility.

  The Committee also recommends that the rotation rule should be applied to the new joint committee, giving Lords members a maximum period of service of four sessions. An extension of three years should be given to any Lord who may be chosen as chairman of the joint committee.

  The Committee recommends one further amendment to Standing Order 73 (Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments) to bring it into line with an amendment already made in the House of Commons. The amendment is consequential on the devolution legislation. It would exclude from the consideration of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments any statutory instrument made by a member of the Scottish Executive or by the National Assembly for Wales, unless such a statutory instrument is required to be laid before the United Kingdom Parliament or either House of it.

Proposed amendments to Standing Orders

Standing Order 40 (arrangement of the Order Paper)

  After paragraph (6), insert the following new paragraph:

    ("(6A)  Any motion relating to a report from the Joint Committee on Human Rights on a remedial order or draft remedial order laid under Schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act 1998 shall be entered before a motion to approve that order or draft order.")

Standing Order 64 (sessional committees)

  After ("House of Lords' Offices Committee") insert ("Human Rights Committee")

Standing Order 72 (affirmative instruments)

  In paragraph (1)(a), after ("Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994") insert ("or a draft remedial order or remedial order laid under Schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act 1998")

  In paragraph (b), after ("Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee") insert:

    ("(c)  in the case of a draft remedial order or remedial order laid under Schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act 1998, there has been laid before the House the report thereon of the Joint Committee on Human Rights:

    Provided that the report is laid

    (i)  in the case of a draft remedial order, within 60 days of the laying of the draft order or

    (ii)  in the case of an order not approved in draft, within 119 days of the making of the original order,

such periods to be calculated in the manner prescribed by Schedule 2 to the Act;")

Standing Order 73 (Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments)

  In paragraph (1), after ("Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994") insert ("and any remedial order or draft remedial order under Schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act 1998")

  In paragraph (2), line 4, after ("but") insert ("not including any statutory instrument made by a member of the Scottish Executive or by the National Assembly for Wales unless it is required to be laid before Parliament or either House of Parliament and").

3.  The Companion to the Standing Orders

  The Committee considered and approved a revised text of the Companion to the Standing Orders, as drafted by the sub-committee appointed on 4 April 2000. The Committee expressed its gratitude to the sub-committee for undertaking this arduous task.

  The Committee agreed that the Companion should be printed on standard A5 paper and continue to be a single volume.

  It is intended to revise and publish later in the year the Brief Guide to the procedure and practice of the House of Lords, drawing on the new edition of the Companion. The page size of the Brief Guide will be the same as it is now.



1   This happened on the motion for an Humble Address on Lord Forsyth of Drumlean's Succession to the Crown Bill: 2 December 1999, HL Deb, cols 917-9. Back


 
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