SECOND REPORT FROM THE SELECT COMMITTEE
ON PROCEDURE OF THE HOUSE
TUESDAY 4 APRIL 2000
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.
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.
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.
The Committee agreed to a new sub judice resolution
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
(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
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
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.
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