Select Committee on Procedure of the House Third Report

Third Report from the Select Committee on Procedure of the House


BY THE SELECT COMMITTEE on Procedure of the House


1. Application of the rotation rule to the new domestic committees

The Committee has considered what form of rotation rule should apply to the new domestic committees appointed at the start of this session. We recommend as follows:


A five-session rotation rule should apply to members other than those who are exempt.


The normal three-session rotation rule should apply to members other than those who are exempt. Chairmen should be exempt for up to four sessions from appointment. In order to avoid a sudden exodus of members at the end of three sessions, the Committee of Selection should apply the rules so as to count service on the relevant predecessor sub-committee of the Offices Committee, except where that would lead to disproportionate turnover.

2. Quorum of the Joint Committee on Human Rights

The Joint Committee on Human Rights comprises six members from each House. At present the quorum is three from each House, or two when evidence is being taken. The Chairman of the Joint Committee has written to the Chairman of Committees and the Leader of the House of Commons asking that the membership from each House be increased to seven, or the quorum be reduced to two from each House for all meetings, or preferably both.

We recommend that the Committee's quorum should be reduced to two members from each House. At this stage we do not recommend any increase in the membership of the Committee.

3. Recording of deaths of Members in the Minutes of Proceedings

The Committee has considered a proposal for recording in the Minutes of Proceedings the deaths of members of the House, whether or not they are the subject of obituary tributes.

We recommend that such a record should be introduced with effect from the coming summer recess. The Minute entry would, in common with other notifications to the House which are not announced in the Chamber, record that the Lord Chancellor had acquainted the House that the member concerned had died.

4. Orders of reference of the select committee on the merits of statutory instruments

In its First Report of this session the Liaison Committee recommended that, with effect from the next session of Parliament, a select committee should be established to consider the merits of statutory instruments. The Liaison Committee agreed that this Committee should be invited to agree the orders of reference of the Committee.

We propose the following orders of reference for the new committee:

"There shall be a Select Committee consisting of nine Lords, to consider every instrument which is laid before each House of Parliament and upon which proceedings may be or might have been taken in either House of Parliament, in pursuance of an Act of Parliament; being—

  (i)  a statutory instrument, or a draft of a statutory instrument;

  (ii)  a scheme, or an amendment of a scheme, or a draft thereof, requiring approval by statutory instrument; or

  (iii)  any other instrument (whether or not in draft), where the proceedings in pursuance of an Act of Parliament are proceedings by way of an affirmative or negative resolution;

but excluding any Order in Council or draft Order in Council made or proposed to be made under paragraph 1 of the Schedule to the Northern Ireland Act 2000 and any remedial order or draft remedial order under Schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act 1998 and any draft order proposed to be made under section 1 of the Regulatory Reform Act 2001, or any subordinate provisions order made or proposed to be made under that Act;

with a view to determining whether the special attention of the House should be drawn to it on any of the following grounds—

  (a)  that it is politically or legally important or gives rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House;

  (b)  that it is inappropriate in view of the changed circumstances since the passage of the parent Act;

  (c)  that it inappropriately implements EU legislation;

  (d)  that it imperfectly achieves its policy objectives."

We propose that these terms of reference should be reviewed after the new committee has been in existence for one session.

5. Debates on select committee reports

The Committee considered a memorandum by the Chairman of the European Union Committee putting forward proposals for improving the House's arrangements for securing time for debates on select committee reports.

Several of the proposals made - for example, in relation to the use of Fridays and "spare Wednesdays", and the linking of European policy issues to party debates on Wednesdays - are matters for the usual channels and the parties rather than for this Committee, and the Committee invited those concerned to consider the proposals further.

The Committee will give further consideration to the procedural steps which would be needed to allow some reports to be debated in the Moses Room in a manner similar to the Grand Committee procedure for bills.

6. Appellations: Archbishops sitting as Lords Temporal

The Committee considered a proposal that an Archbishop sitting as a peer should be referred to as "the noble and most reverend Lord" instead of "the noble and right reverend Lord" as at present.

The only peer in this category is Lord Eames. He is referred to as "most reverend" outside the House of Lords. The present practice of the House is therefore anomalous and we recommend the proposed change to the House.

Retired Archbishops will, in accordance with practice outside the House, continue to be referred to as "right reverend".

7. Thursday sittings

The Committee considered a letter from Lord Carter calling attention to the proceedings on his starred question on 4 June and inviting the Committee to review the arrangement whereby the House sits at 11 a.m. on Thursdays but adjourns between 1.30 and 3.00 p.m. The Committee will examine this matter further at its next meeting and proposes to seek the views of members of the House.

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