Bills taken in Committee of the whole House

28.83Bills which have had their committee stage in Committee of the whole House have generally fallen into one of the following categories: bills of major constitutional importance;1 emergency and other expedited legislation;2 bills of a very uncontroversial nature such as Consolidation Bills;3 or Private Members' Bills which are unopposed and of which all the stages are taken without debate.4 At the beginning of the 2017 Parliament, a number of bills were committed to a Committee of the whole House prior to the establishment of a committee empowered to nominate members of public bill committees.5 Bills may be divided between a public bill committee and Committee of the whole House and, generally, Finance Bills are dealt with in this way (see para 28.64 ).6 Particularly controversial clauses of other government bills (for example, those which raise questions of conscience) have been committed to a Committee of the whole House and the remaining clauses to a public bill committee.7 Bills containing a number of alternative schemes for legislation on a particular topic have been divided in this way to enable the Committee of the whole House to approve one of those schemes; a public bill committee has then undertaken the detailed consideration of the provisions giving effect to the approved scheme (and has made any amendments consequential on the rejection of the other schemes).8


  1. 1. For example, European Communities Bill (1971–72); European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (2017–19). See also para 28.63.
  2. 2. For example, Social Security (Contributions) Bill (1993–94); Statutory Sick Pay Bill (1993–94); Banking (Special Provisions) Bill (2007–08); Northern Ireland (Regional Rates and Energy) Bill (2017–19); Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Pay) Bill (2017–19).
  3. 3. For example, Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Bill [Lords] (1996–97). See also paras 28.53–28.55.
  4. 4. For example, Criminal Cases Review (Insanity) Bill [Lords] (1998–99).
  5. 5. Air Travel Organisers' Licensing Bill, Votes and Proceedings, 3 July 2017; Telecommunications Infrastructure (Relief from Non-Domestic Rates) Bill, Votes and Proceedings, 10 July 2017.
  6. 6. For example, Finance (No. 2) Bill (2017–19), Votes and Proceedings, 11 December 2017.
  7. 7. For example, Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill [Lords] (1989–90); Criminal Justice Bill (1990–91); Sunday Trading Bill (1993–94); Family Law Bill [Lords] (1995–96); Firearms (Amendment) Bill (1996–97); Government of Wales Bill (1997–98) (order for committal subsequently discharged); Greater London Authority Bill (1998–99); Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill (1998–99); Hunting Bill (2000–01); Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill (2002–03); Electoral Administration Bill (2005–06); Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill (2005–06); Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill [Lords] (2007–08).
  8. 8. Sunday Trading Bill, CJ (1993–94) 25, 64; HC Deb (1993–94) 234, cc 326–433; Hunting Bill, CJ (2000–01) 37, 69–71; HC Deb (2000–01) 360, cc 469–87; ibid 361, cc 354–474.