The decision-making process for and the timing of initial certification on bills
27.13All decisions on certification are for the Speaker.1 In relation to bills, the Speaker is provided with advice from the Public Bill Office and from the Office of Speaker's Counsel. The latter Office takes the lead in advice relating to statutory instruments.2
The government set out their view on territorial application and devolved legislative competence in the Explanatory Notes to a bill when first published in the House of Commons. The Government also provides such information in relation to statutory instruments.3
After a Government bill has been introduced, a note is published in Future Business to the effect that the Speaker has not yet considered it for certification. The same process is followed for statutory instruments requiring consideration. If the Speaker signs a certificate, the note on Future Business or the Order Paper is changed accordingly. Any certification is also recorded in the Votes and Proceedings. Decisions not to certify are not recorded; the absence of any note on the Order Paper indicates that no certification has been made.4 On occasions, particularly in respect of bills and statutory instruments with little notice, the Speaker's decision on certification has been announced orally in the House.5
The Speaker does not generally give reasons for decisions on certification.6 Information has been published about some instances of divergence between the Government's assessment of the relevant criteria and the Speaker's decision, and the Procedure Committee has recommended that, in due course, the Speaker might wish to publish rulings on established precedent relating to certification.7 The practice has been for the decision on certification not to take place until a date for the next stage is imminent, in part to allow time for representations to be received.8 The Speaker may consult two members of the Panel of Chairs appointed for the purpose by the Committee of Selection in reaching a decision on certification of a bill or instrument, by analogy with the procedure in respect of certification of Money bills under s 1 of the Parliament Act 1911.9
- 1. SO Nos 83J(1) and 83P(1). Certificates may be issued by a Deputy Speaker, usually on the basis of a provisional certificate issued by the Speaker: HC Deb (26 October 2015) 601, c 23.
- 2. Public Bill Office Memorandum for Procedure Committee inquiry into EVEL – Technical review (EVL 14), paras 16, 14.
- 3. Cabinet Office, Guide to Making Legislation, July 2017, paras 11.80–11.97; Public Bill Office Memorandum for Procedure Committee inquiry into EVEL – Technical review (EVL 14), paras 17, 14.
- 4. HC Deb (26 October 2015) 601, c 23.
- 5. See, for example, HC Deb (12 November 2018) 649, c 54.
- 6. HC Deb (26 October 2015) 601, c 23.
- 7. HC (2016–17) 189, paras 14–27; Public Bill Office Memorandum for Procedure Committee inquiry into EVEL – Technical review (EVL 14), paras 18–29.
- 8. Public Bill Office Memorandum for Procedure Committee inquiry into EVEL – Technical review (EVL 14), para 16. Representations have also been received in respect of a statutory instrument: see ibid, para 15.
- 9. SO Nos 83J(8)(a) and 83P(4). They may also undertake a comparable role in respect of certification of motions for founding resolutions for a Finance Bill under SO No 83U(6), on which see para 27.27. For the appointment, see Votes and Proceedings, 13 September 2017. On the equivalent procedure in relation to certification for the purposes of s 1 of the Parliament Act 1911, see para 37.30.