Inadmissible instructions

28.75Instructions are out of order if they attempt to embody in a bill principles that are foreign or not cognate to it; if their objects are inconsistent with the decision of the House on second reading or seek to replace that decision by means of an alternative scheme or postponement; or if they propose to amend Acts which are not cognate to the bill, or attempt to introduce into a bill a subject which should properly constitute a distinct measure. They are out of order if they seek to authorise the committee to go beyond any Money resolution or Ways and Means resolution passed in connection with the bill.1 They are also out of order if they seek to confer powers on a committee which it already has,2 or are otherwise superfluous, if they propose an impracticable division of the bill into two or more bills3 or generally are not clear and specific.

The following are examples of instructions that have been ruled inadmissible.

On the Representation of the People Bill 1947–48 an instruction was put down to give the committee power to provide for the suspension of the issue of writs for the return of Members in Northern Ireland during such times as in the opinion of Parliament free elections were impossible in Northern Ireland. The Speaker ruled the instruction out of order on the ground that it was outside the scope of the bill and raised a matter of such magnitude that it could only be introduced by a separate statute.4

An instruction put down on the Scotland and Wales Bill 1976–77 sought to provide for alterations to the structure and functions of government in any or all parts of the United Kingdom. As the bill was to provide for changes in the government of Scotland and Wales, this object was ruled not to be cognate to the bill, and the instruction was ruled out of order.5

On the Merchant Shipping (Pollution) Bill [Lords] 2005–06 an instruction was put down which related to the procedure for orders under the Harbours Act 1964. It was ruled out of order because it related to matters which were unrelated to the content of the Bill.6


  1. 1. HC Deb (1929–30) 234, c 1721.
  2. 2. For example, HC Deb (1955–56) 551, c 1789; ibid (1987–88) 124, cc 1113–14.
  3. 3. Parl Deb (1901) 97, c 453.
  4. 4. HC Deb (1947–48) 448, c 1892. For cases of similar instructions ruled out of order, see Demise of the Crown Bill, HC Deb (1901) 93, c 1259; London Water (re-committed) Bill, ibid (1902) 111, c 9; Education (Provision of Meals) (re-committed) Bill, ibid (1906) 166, c 1273; Parliament Bill, ibid (1911) 23, cc 1815, 1849; Solicitors (Examination) Bill [Lords], ibid (1917) 97, c 1339; Trade Disputes and Trade Unions Bill, ibid (1927) 206, cc 401, 402.
  5. 5. HC Deb (1976–77) 941, c 1663.
  6. 6. HC Deb (2005–06) 441, c 1445.