7

See the Programme Motion

Paragraph (3)(b) States:

When the Bill has been read a Second Time the Speaker shall leave the Chair whether or not notice of an Instruction has been given.

Paragraph (7) States:

(7)For the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph (1), the Chairman or Speaker shall forthwith put the following Questions in the same order as they would fall to be put if this Order did not apply—

(a) any Question already proposed from the Chair;

(b) any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed;

(c) the Question on any amendment moved or Motion made by a Minister of the Crown;

(d) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded; and shall not put any other questions, other than the question on any motion described in paragraph (18)(a) of this Order.

And (9) and (10) read:

(9)If two or more Questions would fall to be put under paragraph (7)(c) on successive amendments moved or Motions made by a Minister of the Crown, the Chairman or Speaker shall instead put a single Question in relation to those amendments or Motions.

(10)If two or more Questions would fall to be put under paragraph (7)(d) in relation to successive provisions of the Bill, the Chairman shall instead put a single Question in relation to those provisions, except that the Question shall be put separately on any Clause or Schedule of the Bill which a Minister of the Crown has signified an intention to leave out.

This to me reads as though it would have the following effects:

  1. Bercow deposed for the duration of the consideration of the Bill, a deputy takes over
  2. No votes on amendments moved by Members other than a Minister
  3. No granular control of amendments; they'll be lumped together so the House has to vote on both or neither.

My question is; am I reading this correctly, and if so is there any precedence for such a restrictive programming motion?

Edit: I found four other instances of a Programming Motion containing the Phrase "the Speaker shall leave the Chair whether or not notice of an Instruction has been given" by searching Hansard. Still unclear what it means though.

  • Related: the programme motion for today (30 Oct 2019) for the much-less-contentious Northern Ireland Budget Bill is very similar to this - in particular, paragraph (6) of that is almost identical to paragraph (7) above. – Steve Melnikoff Oct 30 '19 at 11:55
  • @SteveMelnikoff yes I noticed that, and I note that nobody has bothered trying to amend it this time! – Dan Scally Oct 30 '19 at 12:37
  • AFAICT, the Opposition appear to be on board with it. Regarding the NI bill, the nature of the bill - mainly money-related admin - makes it hard to amend. For a start, only ministers can propose amendments relating to money (standing order 48). – Steve Melnikoff Oct 30 '19 at 12:56
9

Bercow deposed for the duration of the consideration of the Bill, a deputy takes over

No. After a bill has received its second reading, it is sent to a committee. For particularly important bills, or for bills which need to be considered quickly, a Committee of the Whole House is used. For historical reasons, this is chaired by the Chairman of Ways of Means, not by the Speaker.

Normally, the decision to send a bill to a Committee of the Whole House requires the Commons to agree a motion to that effect, and (normally on a different day) a motion for the Commons to turn itself into the Committee.

The key part of paragraph (3)(b) is that, in this case, that agreement is being done in advance, so the bill will automatically be sent to the Committee, and the Committee will sit immediately - hence the Speaker must leave the chair so the Chairman can take over.

No votes on amendments moved by Members other than a Minister

Yes, this appears to be the case, and is very unusual.

However, Stella Creasy's amendment was subsequently agreed to, and allows amendments by any MP (so long as those amendments are selected by the Chair).

No granular control of amendments; they'll be lumped together so the House has to vote on both or neither.

Essentially, yes. Paragraph (9) only refers to (7)(c), hence that only applies to government amendments, which will be voted on together. Paragraph (10) refers to (7)(d), and requires (I think) procedural motions to be grouped together, subject to certain exceptions.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer. I had no idea a Committee of the Whole House was not chaired by the Speaker - do you happen to know what those historical reasons are? Regarding Paragraphs (7) and (10) I remain unsure of those, though I agree that your reading is reasonable I note that Stella Creasy has lodged an amendment to the motion which adds (7) (ba) the Question on any amendment, new Clause or new Schedule selected by the Chair for separate decision; - the obvious implication being that she's reached the same conclusion I did and wants to amend the Programming Motion to fix that. – Dan Scally Oct 29 '19 at 10:25
  • 2
    @DanScally: re chairing the Committee, Wikipedia (citing a book on Commons procedure) says: "The Committee originated as [a] means to consider legislation without the presence of royal officers and without a formal record being made of the proceedings. The Speaker was not only relieved of his chair but also excluded from the chamber since he was then regarded as partial to the Crown". The Speaker is still appointed by the Crown (after being elected by the Commons), though this is now a formality. – Steve Melnikoff Oct 29 '19 at 10:29
  • 1
    Re Creasy amendment: yeah. I guess that would cover backbench amendments which were not moved in time. (I'm not 100% sure about these parts of the programme motion.) – Steve Melnikoff Oct 29 '19 at 10:33
  • 1
    Ah neato. I love historical quirks that stop making sense hundreds of years ago but are weirdly still followed. See also Erskine May (as always!) – Dan Scally Oct 29 '19 at 10:37
  • 1
    On further reading, it looks like my original answer to question 2 was incorrect. I've updated the answer. – Steve Melnikoff Oct 29 '19 at 15:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .