Transfer of bill from one kind of committee to another

28.67A bill which stands committed to a public bill committee may instead be committed, on a motion, to a Committee of the whole House1 or a select committee.2 The motion begins with a proposal that that committee be discharged from considering the bill.3 Such a motion may be made after consideration of the bill has been entered upon in committee, in which case the wording of the motion is ‘discharged from further considering the bill’.4 On occasion, the House has ordered that new clauses dealing with specific issues be committed to a Committee of the whole House, the bill having already been committed to a standing committee.5

With the exceptions stated at paras 28.61–28.63 above, bills stand committed to a public bill committee, unless the House otherwise orders. Hence a motion to transfer a bill, which has been specially committed to a Committee of the whole House, to a public bill or select committee is a most unusual occurrence. It is possible, however, to move to discharge the order and commit the bill to a public bill or select committee.6 Similarly, after the Finance Bill had been divided between a standing committee and Committee of the whole House, the latter was subsequently discharged from considering certain clauses, which were then committed to the standing committee.7 An amendment to such a motion, whereby only parts of such a bill would have been committed to a standing committee, was ruled privately not to come within the terms of what is now Standing Order No 63(3).8

Motions for the committal of a bill to a committee other than that first ordered by the House are debatable, but debate should be confined to the effect or expediency of referring the bill to the proposed committee, and general debate upon the merits or clauses of the bill is not permitted.9


  1. 1. For example, CJ (1953–54) 46; ibid (1964–65) 238.
  2. 2. CJ (1909) 179.
  3. 3. For example, CJ (1987–88) 361; ibid (1994–95) 233. See also ibid (1921) 247, where an allocation of time order provided for the reallocation of part of a bill to a different standing committee.
  4. 4. CJ (1964–65) 161; ibid (1966–67) 193; ibid (1969–70) 341. See also CJ (1933–34) 256, 336. For orders discharging standing committees from considering such provisions of bills as they had not yet considered and for the occupant of the Chair to report the provisions which had been considered, and providing for further proceedings on the bills in Committee of the whole House and on report, see CJ (1986–87) 379, 382.
  5. 5. CJ (1990–91) 55; ibid (1993–94) 151.
  6. 6. CJ (1917–18) 19, 26; ibid (1951–52) 288; ibid (1966–67) 494; ibid (1992–93) 349 (standing committees); CJ (1854–55) 143; ibid (1856) 207; ibid (1857) 337; ibid (1955–56) 195–96 (select committees).
  7. 7. CJ (1989–90) 399.
  8. 8. See Notices of Motions (1951–52) p 3032.
  9. 9. Parl Deb (1883) 278, cc 335, 341; ibid (1884) 287, c 1870; ibid (1892) 4, cc 305, 1310; HC Deb (1951–52) 502, c 2667.