HL Deb 24 July 1991 vol 531 cc782-3

3.14 p.m.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

There is only one item on the report to which I need to draw your Lordships' special attention; that is the first item regarding the wearing of robes by Bishops. Your Lordships will recall that there was a slight difficulty a few weeks ago when the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chester was advised that he could not vote because he was not correctly robed. The committee has given consideration to that difficulty with the benefit of advice from the Bishops themselves. The conclusion is that whenever possible robes should be worn in the Lobby, but that in exceptional circumstances Bishops may wear other dress.

Moved, That the Third Report from the Select Committee be agreed to.—(The Chairman of Committees.)

Following is the report:



1. The Committee has considered the wearing of robes by bishops, with the benefit of advice from the bishops themselves. It reaffirms the requirement that the traditional robes of rochet and chimere should be worn in the Chamber. As for the division lobbies, the Committee supports the principle that the rules of dress and conduct in the lobbies should be as far as possible the same as in the Chamber. However, it is acknowledged that it would be unfair to insist on robes in the lobbies at all times, since under certain circumstances a requirement to robe might deprive bishops of the opportunity to vote. The Committee concludes that whenever possible robes should be worn in the lobby, but that in exceptional circumstances bishops can wear other dress. When bishops are outside the Chamber, but within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster, their dress should be a matter for individual discretion.


2. Standing Order 15 makes clear that when the House is:; fitting (except as a committee of the whole House) and the Lord Chancellor is present, he should be on the Woolsack. A consequence of this is that when a division takes place, the Lord Chancellor should vote from the Woolsack. The Lord Chancellor is always robed when on the Woolsack. Standing Order 59 similarly requires that if the Chairman of Committees is present while the House is in committee, he should vote in the Chair. The Committee believes that it would be unreasonable to deprive these officers of the right to vote by an absolute requirement that they vote on the Woolsack or in the Chair. The Committee therefore recommends that, in exceptional circumstances, they should be entitled to vote by passing through the lobbies.


3.The Committee recommends certain changes to the Minutes of Proceedings, to make the Minutes a more comprehensive procedural record, and more helpful to the reader. First, division lists should be printed at the back of the Minutes. Second, the long titles of bills should be printed at first reading. Finally, a new heading should be introduced for motions put down on the Order Paper under "No Day Named", highlighting motions concerning select committee reports. These should be tabled on publication of the report, and give the date of tabling in brackets after the motion.


4. The Committee recommends that instead of giving Lords committees the power to meet concurrently with Commons committees ad hoc, standing orders should be amended to allow all select committees to meet in this way. It recommends the following amendment to standing orders:

"64A Any Select Committee of the House shall have leave to confer and meet concurrently with any Committee or Sub-Committee of the Commons appointed to consider a similar matter, for the purpose of deliberating or taking evidence, and may communicate to any such Committee or Sub-Committee its evidence or any other documents relating to matters of common interest. Any Select Committee of the House shall also have leave to give this power to confer and meet concurrently to any Sub-Committee appointed by it."

The Lord Bishop of Manchester

My Lords, perhaps I may express the gratitude of the Bishops' Bench for what has been decided. That is a great convenience to US.

On Question, Motion agreed to.