Proceedings null and void

20.100An order declaring proceedings to be null and void is employed where there has been some form of irregularity in procedure.1 It is used either where there is no resolution which can be rescinded or order which can be discharged,2 or where the status quo ante cannot be restored merely by rescinding the resolution or discharging the order, as where a resolution is irregularly reported from a committee. If, however, the status quo could be restored merely by discharging an order, there would be no question of annulling and voiding the proceedings.

On 11 July 1974, divisions took place on two amendments to a bill on consideration. The numbers of ayes and noes were equal in each case, and the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker respectively gave their casting votes against the amendments. On 16 July, the House was acquainted that as the result of an irregularity a Member had been incorrectly recorded as voting with the noes (see para 20.82 ). The Speaker directed that the numbers should be corrected accordingly and it therefore appeared that there had been a majority for each amendment. The proceedings relating to the Speaker's and the Deputy Speaker's casting votes were declared null and void by notice in the Journal, no motion being made in the House. The proceedings in relation to the third reading of the bill were ordered to be null and void on a motion moved in the House without notice. It was further ordered that a message should be sent to the Lords requesting them to return the bill (which had been sent to them on 11 July), and that when the bill had been returned by the Lords and corrected, it should be read the third time.3

On Friday 31 January 1986, the Protection of Military Remains Bill (a Private Member's Bill) passed through all stages up to and including its third reading without debate. It was immediately discovered that no money resolution had been passed after second reading to cover two italicised clauses contained in the bill. A motion was tabled forthwith to nullify the irregular proceedings (ie committee and third reading), which was passed without objection on the next sitting day. It was held that since the motion to nullify the proceedings had been tabled immediately, the bill should not be sent to the Lords and there was therefore no requirement to send a message requesting its return.4

Footnotes

  1. 1. CJ (1956–57) 201; ibid (1962–63) 196, etc.
  2. 2. CJ (1938–39) 95, 96, etc.
  3. 3. CJ (1974) 245, 256, 257; HC Deb (1974) 877, cc 248–65.
  4. 4. CJ (1985–86) 152, 155, 158 and 166.