§ 2.35 p.m.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (THE EARL OF LISTOWEL)
My Lords, I beg to move that the Third Report from the Committee on the Procedure of the House be now considered.
§ Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.
§ The Committee's Report was as follows
§ 1. THE RECORDING OF DIVISIONS IN TIM JOURNALS
The Committee have reviewed the provisions of S.O. 53, which stipulates that the names of Lords voting in Divisions are to be recorded alphabetically in the Minutes of Proceedings, but are to be recorded in the Journals in the order in which they stand in the Roll of the Lords. The Committee recommend that in future the names should be recorded alphabetically in both places. Accordingly, they recommend the following amendments to S.O.s 8 and 53:—
Standing Order 8
Line 5, leave out ("except") and insert ("but")
Line 6, leave out ("where") and insert ("except where divisions are recorded").
Standing Order 53
Paragraph (1) at end insert:—("and entered in the Journals")
Leave out paragraph (2)
§ 2. APPOINTMENT OF DEPUTY SPEAKERS
The Committee have considered the arrangements for the authorisation of Lords to take th place of the Lord Chancellor on the Woolsack during his absence from the House. At present Deputy Speakers are appointed by the Queen by the issue of a Commission under the Great Seal. The Committee recommend that in future Deputy Chairmen as well as
Deputy Speakers be authorised to take the place of the Lord Chancellor on the Woolsack during his absence from the House, and for that purpose S.O. 17 be amended to read as follows:
17. 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.
§ 3. DIVISIONS
§ The Committee have considered the amendment of Standing Orders necessary to fulfil the Committee's recommendations in their Second Report in relation to divisions. They recommend that S.O. 48 should be amended to read:—
§ "48.—(1) When, on the question being put, a division is called for, the Lord on the Woolsack or in the Chair shall order the Bar to be cleared, and thereupon the Bar and also the division lobbies shall be cleared of strangers, but not the galleries and the space within the rails of the Throne, unless the House shall so order.
§ (2) As soon as the order has been given for the Bar to be cleared, the Clerk at the Table shall turn a four-minute sand glass, to be kept on the Table for that purpose: and the doors shall be locked after the lapse of four minutes as indicated by the said glass, and the Lord on the Woolsack or in the Chair shall then again put the question.
§ (3) During the four minutes after the Bar has been ordered to be cleared, two Tellers shall be appointed by the Contents and two by the Not-contents, and their names communicated to the Clerk at the Table.
§ (4)If, after the lapse of four minutes, Tellers have not been so appointed either for the Contents or for the Not-contents, a division cannot take place, and the Lord on the Woolsack or in the Chair shall, instead of again putting the question, declare the question decided in favour of the side which has appointed Tellers.
§ (5) On a division, the Contents shall go forth through the door on the right side of the House near the Throne which leads to the right lobby, and shall proceed through the right lobby, and re-enter the House through the door on the right of the Bar; and the Not-contents shall go forth through the door on the left of the Bar which leads to the left lobby, and shall proceed through the left lobby, and re-enter the House through the door on the left side of the House near the Throne.
§ (6) One Teller for the Contents and one for the Not-contents shall be appointed for each division lobby without respect to their degree; and Clerks shall be in attendance in each lobby to record the names of the Contents and Not-contents respectively; the 1055 Tellers shall count the votes and announce the numbers to the Lord on the Woolsack or in the Chair."
§ 4. STANDING ORDER 36 ("ARRANGEMENT OF THE ORDER PAPER")
§ In their last Report the Committee recommended inter alia that the Lord Chairman be given discretion "to set down Private Bills at the end of the day's business as well as before public business …"
§ The Committee have reconsidered this recommendation and propose that the words "at the end of the day's business" be qualified by the addition of the words: "save for Unstarred Questions". In this way the wording of the present S.O. 36(6): "Unstarred Questions shall be entered last" can remain unaltered.
§ In order to give effect to their other recommendations on S.O. 36 the Committee recommend that S.O. 36 should be amended as follows:
§ "36. Notices shall be entered in the Order Paper in the order in which they are received at the Table, provided that:—
- (1) Starred Questions shall be entered before other business.
- (2) Notices relating to Private Business may be entered before Public Business. At the discretion of the Chairman of Committees they may also be entered later in the Order Paper.
- (3) Notices relating to the Business of the House and to the Chairman of Committee's Business, shall, if he so desires, have priority over other Public Business except Starred Questions.
- (4) On all sitting days except Wednesdays notices and orders relating to Public Bills, Measures and Orders shall have precedence over other notices and orders save the foregoing; and on such days the precedence of notices and orders relating to Public Bills, Measures and Orders may be varied, if the convenience of the House so requires.
- (5) Unstarred Questions shall be entered last."
§ 5. SPEAKING TWICE TO ONE MATTER (S.O. 29)
§ The attention of the Committee has been drawn to the growing disregard of S.O. 29 ("No Lord to speak twice to one matter"), particularly on the Report stage of Bills. The Committee have under consideration the terms of this Standing Order, on which they will be making recommendations in due course. Meanwhile, they consider that the House should be reminded to observe this Standing Order, especially on Report.
§ 6. PUBLIC BILL COMMITTEE OFF THE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE
§ The Committee were informed that the Government intend to propose to the House a repetition of the practice whereby suitable Bills are referred to Select Committees, known 1056 as "Public Bill Committees", off the floor of the House. The Committee have reviewed the procedure and make the following recommendations:—
§ Divisions in the House
§ The Committee are of opinion that the decision whether or not to adjourn for divisions in the House is one for each Public Bill Committee to decide for itself at the beginning of its proceedings; they recommend, nevertheless, that committees should adjourn for divisions. Each Committee should decide at its first meeting whether each such adjournment should be for a fixed period of time, or be terminated as soon as the result of the division in the House is announced.
§ Divisions in Committee
§ The Committee recommend that where divisions are called in Public Bill Committees there should normally be no interval of time before the Committee divides.
§ Chairman's Right to Vote
§ The Committee observe that in the last Public Bill Committee the Chairman never voted. They confirm that the Lord in the Chair has the same unrestricted right to vote in a Public Bill Committee as in Committee of the Whole House.
§ Time of Sittings
§ The Committee have noted that difficulties arose in the last Public Bill Committee because the times of sitting of the Committee were not fixed but were varied at short notice to suit the convenience of its members. The Committee recommend that Public Bill Committees should normally sit between 3 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. except on Thursday when they should sit from 3.30 to 6 p.m.
§ Each such committee should decide on its own programme of sittings on a business motion at the outset, which would thereafter not be subject to alteration.
§ Formality of Proceedings
§ The Committee recommend that members of Public Bill Committees should speak standing; and that, so far as practicable, the same degree of formality should be observed in the committee's proceedings as in Committee of the Whole House.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be now agreed to, and in doing so I should like to bring the attention of your Lordships to Section 6 of the Report. This deals with the procedure for a Public Bill that is taken off the Floor of the House. It is a matter of some urgency, as it is proposed that the Committee stage of the Highways Bill should be taken off the Floor of the House to-morrow. It is therefore important that your Lordships should decide during the course of this 1057 afternoon about the procedure regulating this Committee. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Report be agreed to.—(The Earl of Listowel.)
§ LORD CHAMPION
My Lords, my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday, in reply to the Motion moved by the Chief Whip, that this side were in agreement with the proposals which embodied the proposals now appearing in the Amendments to the Standing Orders. We certainly have no objection to this.
§ LORD ROYLE
My Lords, I wonder whether the Lord Chairman could help me in this matter relating to our experience of Committee stage of a Bill off the Floor of the House in previous Sessions. It seems to me that we shot Id conduct these Committees more in line with the customs of the House, and perhaps, if I may say so, more in line with Standing Committees in another place, standing to speak rather than remaining seated. It seemed to me, as a Deputy Chairman of Committees who presided on one or two occasions, that there was far too much backchat, if one may use the term, rather than a definite contribution towards a debate, and that there is much to be desired in our conduct of such a Committee. If the Lord Chairman would give consideration to this matter, I feel sure that the work of such Committees would be of greater advantage to the House.
§ THE EARL OF LISTOWEL
My Lords, I have listened with very great interest, as other noble Lords have done, to the observations of the noble Lord, Lord Royle. He will no doubt have noticed that at the end of Section 6 the proposal made by the Procedure Committee is to recommend to the House that members of Public Bill Committees should speak standing. If this recommendation is approved by the House this afternoon, then it will be a decision that will be binding upon the Committee, and of course on subsequent Committees of this kind taken off the Floor of the House.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.