Select Committee on Speakership of the House First Report


Appendix 2 Amendments to Standing Orders

We list below all those Standing Orders which mention the Lord Chancellor and indicate what amendments, if any, we propose in implementation of our proposals:

Standing Order 11: Register of hereditary peers

11. Any hereditary peer (not previously in receipt of a writ of summons) who wishes to be included in the register maintained by the Clerk of the Parliaments pursuant to Standing Order 10(5) shall petition the House and any such petition shall be referred to the Lord Chancellor to consider and report upon whether such peer has established his right to be included in the register.

Recommendation

We recommend no change. While the Register remains in existence the Lord Chancellor or his successor, with responsibility for the Crown Office, remains the appropriate person to consider petitions.

Standing Order 17: Recall of the House

17.—(1) If, during any adjournment of the House, the Lord Chancellor is satisfied that the public interest requires that the House should meet at a time earlier than that appointed, he may signify that he is so satisfied and notice shall be given and thereupon the House shall meet at the time stated in the notice, as if it had been duly adjourned to that time.

(2) If the Lord Chancellor is unable to act for the purposes of this Standing Order, the Chairman of Committees, after consultation with Her Majesty's Government, may act in his stead.

(3) Notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, the House may meet for judicial business at a time earlier than that appointed if the Lord Chancellor or, in his absence, the senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary is satisfied that it should do so and has signified that he is so satisfied and has given notice to such Lords as he thinks fit.

Recommendation

In Standing Orders 17(1) and (2), the reference to the Lord Chancellor should be amended to refer to the Lord Speaker. Standing Order 17(3) will no longer be needed if and when the new supreme court is established, and in the meantime no amendment is required.

Speaker of the House

18.—(1) It is the duty of the Lord Chancellor ordinarily to attend the Lords House of Parliament as Speaker of the House; and in case the Lord Chancellor be absent, his place on the Woolsack may be taken either by a Deputy Speaker, authorised under the Great Seal from the Queen to supply that place, or by a Deputy Chairman, appointed by the House; and if neither a Deputy Speaker nor a Deputy Chairman be present, the Lords may then choose their own Speaker during that vacancy.

(2) In order better to discharge his duties as a Minister of the Crown, the Lord Chancellor may, if he thinks fit, leave the Woolsack and sit in such other part of the House as he may find convenient; and in such circumstances his place on the Woolsack shall be taken by a Deputy Speaker or Deputy Chairman.

Recommendation

In Standing Order 17(1), both references to the Lord Chancellor should be amended to refer to the Lord Speaker. The words "or in the Chair" should be inserted after "Woolsack". Standing Order 17(2) should be repealed.

The Lord Chancellor

19. The Lord Chancellor, when he speaks to the House, is always to speak uncovered, and is not to adjourn the House, or do anything else as Mouth of the House, without the consent of the Lords first had; and any matter on which there is a difference of opinion among the Lords is to be put to the Question; and if the Lord Chancellor will speak to any thing particularly, he is to go to his own place as a Peer or such other part of the House as he may find convenient.

Recommendation

This Standing Order should be repealed. The new Speaker will be given no powers to act in the House without consent, and no Standing Order is needed to curtail powers which will not have been granted.

Joint Committee on Consolidation Bills

52. There shall be a Select Committee consisting of twelve Lords, who shall be appointed on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor at the commencement of every session, to join with a Committee of the House of Commons as the Joint Committee on Consolidation etc. Bills, to which shall be referred: …

Recommendation

The words "on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor" should be left out. The effect would be that the members would be nominated in the usual way by the Committee of Selection.

Committees of the Whole House

63. To have more freedom of debate, and that arguments may be used (pro and contra), Committees of the Whole House are appointed, sometimes for Bills, sometimes to discuss matters of great moment. Whenever the House resolves itself into a Committee, the Lord Chancellor leaves the Woolsack and the Lord Chairman of Committees presides over the Committee; Standing Order No. 31. (No Lord to speak more than once to a Motion) shall not apply when the House is in Committee.

Recommendation

The words "Whenever the House resolves itself into a Committee, the Lord Chancellor leaves the Woolsack and the Lord Chairman of Committees presides over the Committee;" should be left out.

Notifications

72. In cases where it has been necessary to bring a Statutory Instrument into operation before it has been laid before Parliament, the notification thereof (which is required by the Statutory Instruments Act 1946 to be sent to the Lord Chancellor) shall be laid upon the Table of the House.

Recommendation

This Standing Order should be left as it stands while the Lord Chancellor retains his role under the Statutory Instruments Act 1946.

Proceedings upon opening the Parliament

76.—(1) At the beginning of Parliament, after prayers shall have been said, the Lord Chancellor shall take the oath appointed to be taken, according to the Act of Parliament made for that purpose, and then all the Peers and Lords of Parliament present shall in like manner take and subscribe the said oath.

(2) After Her Majesty's Speech from the Throne, some Bill (pro formâ) is to be read; which being done, the Lord Chancellor is to report Her Majesty's Speech, and then the House shall proceed to nominate the Chairman of Committees.

(3) At the beginning of every other Session during the same Parliament, after prayers said, some Bill (pro formâ) is to be read, Her Majesty's Speech reported and the Chairman of Committees nominated.

Recommendation

Both references to the Lord Chancellor should be amended to refer to the Lord Speaker.

Claims of Peerage

79. In claims of Peerage the following directions shall apply in regard to claims by Petition which have been referred to the Committee for Privileges:

(1) The Petitioner shall lodge his case, pedigree and proofs with the Clerk of the Parliaments within six weeks from the date of the presentation of his Petition to the House.

(2) Records and documents in public custody may be proved before the Committee by copies officially certified as in ordinary legal proceedings. The production of originals of such documents shall not be required except on an order of the Lord Chancellor or Chairman of Committees.

Originals of records and documents in private custody, together with copies thereof, must be produced and proved before the Committee.

(3) In unopposed claims the record of the documentary evidence given before the Committee shall be examined by an examiner appointed by the Crown Agent. The Crown Agent may, if he think fit, similar appoint an examiner in opposed claims. The cost of the examination shall be borne by the claimant.

(4) The fees to be charged shall be such as shall be authorised from time to time by the House.

Recommendation

The reference to the Lord Chancellor should be amended to refer to the Lord Speaker.

Claims of Irish Peerages

80. A claim to any Peerage of Ireland shall be made by Petition to the House, which Petition shall be referred to the Lord Chancellor to consider and report upon to the House.

Recommendation

As in relation to Standing Order 11, we propose no change.

Appellate and Appeal Committees

87.—(1) For the purposes of its appellate jurisdiction, the House shall have Appellate and Appeal Committees, of which all Lords qualified under the Appellate Jurisdiction Acts 1876 and 1887 shall be members.

(2) These Committees shall be:

(a) two Appellate Committees, which shall hear any cause or matter referred to them and shall report thereon to the House;

(b) two Appeal Committees, which shall consider any Petition or application for leave to appeal that may be referred to them and any matter relating thereto, or to causes depending, or formerly depending, in this House, and shall report thereon to the House.

(3) In any criminal matter, or in any matter concerning extradition, an Appeal Committee may take decisions and give directions on behalf of the House.

(4) In any Appellate or Appeal Committee the Chair shall be taken by the Lord Chancellor or, in his absence, by the senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary present, such seniority being determined in accordance with the Commission for the time being appointing Speakers for the purpose of the hearing and determination of Appeals.

(5) For the purposes of section 8 of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876, any Appellate Committee may sit and act while Parliament is prorogued.

Recommendation

This Standing Order will no longer be needed if and when the new supreme court is established, and in the meantime no amendment is required.


 
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