Mr Speaker Denison's decision of 1860: existing text of a bill to be preserved

20.93The third principle which guides the Speaker in giving their casting vote was explained by Mr Speaker Denison in 1860. The numbers being equal on an amendment proposed to a bill, Mr Speaker Denison stated that as the House was unable to form a judgment on the propriety of the proposed amendment, he should best perform his duty by leaving this bill in the form in which the Committee had reported it to the House; accordingly, he gave his voice against the amendment.1

On 24 July 1862, the numbers being equal on a question for disagreeing to a Lords amendment, Mr Speaker Denison said he should support the bill, as passed by the House of Commons. This precedent has been followed on other occasions.2 On 12 March 1958, after a new clause had been read a second time on consideration of the Maintenance Orders Bill, the numbers were equal on the question that the clause be added to the bill; the Deputy Speaker stated that it was his duty to vote for the bill as it emerged from the Committee, and accordingly he gave his casting vote against the question that the new clause should be added to the bill.3

On 11 July 1974, the numbers being equal on an amendment proposed to be inserted in the Trade Union and Labour Relations Bill, on consideration as amended, Mr Speaker stated that he must vote for the bill as it came from committee and accordingly he cast his vote against the amendment.4

On 21 June 1990, when the numbers were equal on an amendment proposed to be inserted in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill [Lords], as amended in committee and in standing committee, the Deputy Speaker stated that he would vote to keep the bill as reported from the committee and from the standing committee and accordingly he cast his vote against the amendment.5

Footnotes

  1. CJ (1860) 235.
  2. CJ (1862–63) 365; Parl Deb (1862) 168, c 785; Denison 124; CJ (1975–76) 620, 628; ibid (1977–78) 463.
  3. CJ (1957–58) 122; HC Deb (1957–58) 584, cc 521 and 555–57.
  4. CJ (1974) 245; HC Deb (1974) 876, c 1691. See also ibid, cc 1719–20; ibid 877, cc 258–59. But see the case when the numbers being equal on an amendment proposed to be inserted in the Regency Bill, on consideration as amended, on 22 July 1910, the effect of which was to replace words which had been in the bill as introduced but had been left out in committee; the Speaker stated that he thought he ought to vote for the bill in the form in which it was originally introduced into the House, and accordingly he gave his voice with the ayes (CJ (1910) 265; HC Deb (1910) 19, c 1717).
  5. CJ (1989–90) 484.