Arrangements alternative to allocation of time orders

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28.44Programme orders, which are the means by which provision is most commonly made for time for scrutiny of bills, are described in paragraph 28.59.

Instead of the compulsory provisions of an allocation of time or programme order, an agreement between parties in the House for the purpose of securing the completion of business within a limited time is sometimes arrived at. A regular example of such voluntary arrangements was the annual Finance Bill, before it became common for Finance Bills to be programmed. In such cases, compliance with the agreed timetable has been secured on an entirely voluntary basis.1

On other occasions, time limits agreed between Government and Opposition have been put to the House for approval in the form of business of the House motions applying to specified business at one or more specified sittings. Most such motions affect business other than bills.2 Business of the House motions applying to proceedings on a bill may be used when the motion cannot be considered an allocation of time motion within the terms of Standing Order No 83, for example because the motion also contains provisions outside the scope of that Standing Order, or because the motion has been set down for consideration other than for up to three hours.3 A business of the House motion for consideration in Committee of the whole House of the European Union (Amendment) Bill in 2008 provided for separate blocks of time for debates on policy themes and then for specified proceedings on the Bill.4


  1. 1. For instances where the details of such agreements have been communicated to the House, see Erskine May (20th edn, 1983), p 462.
  2. 2. For example, CJ (1994–95) 167, 198–99.
  3. 3. CJ (1993–94) 174–75. See also HC Deb (1996–97) 285, cc 173–74; ibid (15 July 2014) 584, c 682. For a Business of the House motion making provision to timetable proceedings on a Private Member’s Bill, see Votes and Proceedings, 3 April 2019. For a motion moved under SO No 24 (emergency debates) to timetable proceedings on a Private Member’s Bill, see Votes and Proceedings, 3 September 2019.
  4. 4. CJ (2007–08) 153.