Other exceptions

28.63In the case of any other public bill which receives a second reading,1 Standing Order No 63(2) provides that a motion may be made by any Member that the bill be committed to a Committee of the whole House, or to a select committee,2 or that it is expedient that the bill be committed to a joint committee,3 or to give the public bill committee to which the bill has been committed power to send for persons, papers and records; but only one such motion may be made.4 Such a motion, if made immediately after the bill has been read a second time, does not require notice5 and must be decided without amendment or debate. It may be made and, if opposed, decided after the moment of interruption.6 If the motion is negatived, the bill stands committed to a public bill committee.7 If a motion to commit a bill to a Committee of the whole House is agreed to, the usual practice is to make an order for the committee on a future day. If it is signified by the Member in charge that the committee stage should follow immediately and objection is taken, the Member in charge of the bill must then move that ‘This House will immediately resolve itself into the said Committee’. This question is debatable.8 It is not exempted business and if further objection is taken after the moment of interruption a future day must be named.9

It is common practice for government bills of ‘first-class’ constitutional importance to be committed to a Committee of the whole House,10 although there is no invariable rule to that effect, nor any settled definition of what ‘“first-class” constitutional importance’ should be taken to mean (see para 28.83 ).11 Less significant bills may also be committed to a Committee of the whole House.12

For Scottish provisional order bills, see para 42.19; and for provisional order confirmation bills, see Erskine May (23rd edn, 2004), p 590.


  1. 1. Bills presented pursuant to the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Act 1936, s 7 and bills to confirm orders pursuant to the Statutory Orders (Special Procedure Act) 1945, s 6 by statute omit the second reading stage.
  2. 2. For example, CJ (1972–73) 145; ibid (1975–76) 76. Bills have sometimes been committed to a select committee to which other bills have been committed, CJ (1851) 243; ibid (1861–62) 146, etc; or to a select committee appointed to inquire into a related matter (see para 38.11 ). The Railways Bill 1999 was referred to a departmentally-related select committee, which was instructed to consider its provisions and report on it by a specified date, CJ (1998–99) 455; HC Deb (1998–99) 335, cc 894–927.
  3. 3. Wills and Intestacies (Family Maintenance) Bill, CJ (1930–31) 135, 156, 176; Customs and Excise Bill, CJ (1951–52) 98, 103, 108.
  4. 4. HC Deb (1914) 61, c 2079; ibid (1924) 170, c 1885.
  5. 5. Notice is, however, often given, eg Local Government Finance Bill, Order Paper (1987–88) p 2167.
  6. 6. Or, if opposed private business has been set down, after the time for taking such business, HC Deb (1909) 3, c 417.
  7. 7. For example, CJ (1985–86) 136–137; ibid (1994–95) 294; ibid (1995–96) 66, 358. Committal was then to a standing committee.
  8. 8. HC Deb (1997–98) 300, cc 437–42.
  9. 9. HC Deb (1994–95) 253, c 1385.
  10. 10. For example, CJ (1971–72) 160; ibid (1977–78) 28; ibid (1984–85) 511; Votes and Proceedings, 11 September 2017.
  11. 11. In their Memorandum to the 1945 Procedure Committee, the Government sought to illustrate what was meant by ‘first-class constitutional importance’ by reference to the Parliament Act 1911 and the Statute of Westminster 1931, but this was clearly not intended as a comprehensive or exclusive definition of the term, the choice of bills to be taken in Committee of the whole House to be left to government initiative. See First Report from the Select Committee on Procedure, HC 9-I (1945–46) p xi; CJ (1945–46) 81; ibid (1992–93) 52–53; and HC Deb (1980–81) 996, c 750. Certain clauses only of the Government of Wales Bill 1997 were committed to a Committee of the whole House, but the committal order was subsequently discharged and the entire bill so committed, CJ (1997–98) 266, 307; HC Deb (1997–98) 302, cc 900–6.
  12. 12. Air Travel Organisers' Licensing Bill, Votes and Proceedings, 11 July 2017; Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Bill [Lords], Votes and Proceedings, 30 April 2018.