Matters already decided during the same session
This paragraph (or sub-paragraphs) have been updated, added or deleted since publication of the 2019 edition. Any sub-paragraphs updated since the 2019 edition can be highlighted by clicking ‘Highlight updates’ below. The most recent updates to this publication were made on August 2021. See the summaries and schedules for each successive update from the Home page.
20.12A motion or an amendment which is the same, in substance, as a question which has been decided during a session may not be brought forward again during that same session.1 Since 1994 this rule has been applied so that, in the case of ten-minute rule motions under Standing Order No 23, refusal by the House of leave to introduce a bill should be treated as the rejection of that bill at a substantive stage, with the effect that a bill with the same or a very similar long title could not be presented again in the same session.2 Attempts have been made to evade this rule by raising again, with verbal alterations, the essential portions of motions which have been negatived. Whether the second motion is substantially the same as the first is finally a matter for the judgment of the Chair;3 in coming to a decision, the Chair may take into account external developments which may change the effect of an otherwise similar motion.3A The same rule has been applied to an amendment renewing a motion which had been already negatived.4 Some motions, however, have been framed with sufficient ingenuity to avoid the rule.5 On rare occasions where the House has been offered a series of alternative proposals for its consideration, an order was made specifically directing the Chair to put the questions on later motions notwithstanding any decision of the House on earlier motions.6
However, a question which has not been definitely decided may be raised again. Thus, a motion or amendment which has been withdrawn,7 or on which the Chair has declared the question not decided when it appeared that fewer than 40 Members had taken part in a division,8 or for some other reason,9 may be repeated. In such cases a Member may speak again on the second occasion.10 Where a certain course in relation to the procedure of the House has been rejected on a particular day, it may be revived on a subsequent day.11
- 1. CJ (1547–1628) 162, 306, 434. Cases when the Speaker has intervened to enforce this rule, CJ (1840) 495; Parl Deb (1844) 76, c 1021; ibid (1860) 158, c 1348; ibid (1870) 201, c 824; ibid (1873) 214, c 287; CJ (1900) 139; ibid (1902) 236; Parl Deb (1906) 160, c 364; CJ (1908) 225; HC Deb (1912) 38, c 1754; CJ (1920) 167; ibid (1920) 129, c 931; ibid (21 October 2019) 666, c 695 (on that occasion the Order Paper carried a note against the text of the relevant motion indicating that the Speaker intended to make a statement to the House, and in doing so he ruled that he would not allow the motion to be moved). For the application of the rule to a notice of motion which raised a question discussed on an amendment to the Address in the same session, see ibid (1912) 35, c 1043. The rule also prevents a matter which has been decided in secret session being reopened in open session, ibid (1943–44) 402, cc 1608–9.
- 2. CJ (1993–94) 454; for application of the rule to bills, see para 28.17.
- 3. Parl Deb (1870) 201, c 824; ibid (1864) 176, c 497; ibid (1882) 269, c 340. See also Parliamentary Affirmation, ibid (1880) 253, c 1266; Mr O'Donnell's suspension, ibid (1881) 261, c 1985; Railway Servants (Hours of Labour), ibid (1890–91) 349, c 1176.
- 3A. HC Deb (18 March 2019) 656, c 775; ibid (21 October 2019) 666, c 695.
- 4. Parl Deb (1844) 76, c 1021.
- 5. CJ (1780–82) 814, 861; ibid (1833) 195, 317; ibid (1845) 59, 69, 81; ibid (1845) 42, 54, 185, 199, 214.
- 6. See CJ (2002–03) 156 and ibid (2006–07) 187 (Business of the House orders governing debates on options for House of Lords reform); and Votes and Proceedings, 27 March 2019 and 1 April 2019 (Business of the House orders governing debates on options for exiting the European Union).
- 7. Parl Deb (1845) 80, cc 432, 798; CJ (1977–78) 152, 168, 169.
- 8. CJ (1972–73) 269, 273; ibid (1977–78) 405.
- 9. CJ (1972–73) 414–15, 435.
- 10. HC Deb (1983–84) 57, c 1266.
- 11. HC Deb (1912) 42, cc 367–68.