Inadmissible amendments

28.105The general rules of order respecting amendments were set out in Chapter 20 (see paras 20.3720.39 ). This section describes the more specific rules relating to amendments to a bill in committee. Most of the rules cited in this section apply equally to amendments offered to bills at report stage, subject to the further description at paras 28.13328.137. Amendments which are out of order are normally included in the printed list of amendments, although in exceptional circumstances the Speaker has ordered that a grossly disorderly amendment should not be printed.

The question on an amendment which is out of order on any of the following grounds cannot be proposed from the Chair:

  1. An amendment is out of order if it is irrelevant to the subject-matter1 or beyond the scope of the bill (see para 28.81 ),2 or if it is irrelevant to the subject-matter3 or beyond the scope of the clause under consideration.4 Amendments which are irrelevant to the clause under consideration should, as a general rule, if they are within the scope of the bill, be moved as new clauses.
  2. An amendment cannot be admitted if it is governed by or dependent upon amendments which have already been negatived.5
  3. An amendment must not be inconsistent with, or contrary to, the bill as so far agreed to by the committee,6 nor must it be inconsistent with a decision of the committee upon a former amendment.7
  4. Amendments are inadmissible if they refer to, or are not intelligible without, subsequent amendments or schedules, of which notice has not been given,8 or if they are otherwise incomplete.9
  5. An amendment which is equivalent to a negative of the bill, or which would reverse the principle of the bill as agreed to on the second reading, is not admissible.10 Where the scope of a bill is very restricted, the extent to which it may be amended at all may thus be severely limited.11
  6. An amendment to leave out a clause is not in order, as the proper course is to vote against the clause standing part of the bill. The same rules apply in respect of schedules, although the form of the questions proposed from the Chair is different (see paras 28.114, 28.117 ). Consequently, it is out of order to propose to leave out the only effective words of a clause, or the words upon which the rest of the clause is dependent, or to offer any other amendment which is equivalent to a direct negative of the clause.12 Amendments to leave out a clause or schedule often appear upon the Notice Paper. While such amendments are never called, they provide an indication to the Chair that certain Members wish to speak, or to vote, on the question that the clause stand part of the bill. Furthermore, an amendment may not be moved to insert words at the beginning of a clause with a view to bringing forward an alternative scheme to that contained in the clause,13 or to leave out the whole substance of a clause in order to insert different provisions,14 or to substitute in effect a new draft for an existing clause.15 In all such cases the question that the clause stand part of the bill should be negatived and a new clause brought up at the proper time. In order to facilitate debate, however, it is normal practice to group an alternative new clause with debate on clause stand part of the clause which the movers of the new clause wish to omit.
  7. A single global amendment to make a series of identical or very similar amendments to different points in a bill is not in order.16
  8. If an amendment would make the clause which it is proposed to amend unintelligible or ungrammatical, or if it is incoherent and inconsistent with the context of the bill, it is out of order.
  9. Amendments which are vague,17 trifling18 or tendered in a spirit of mockery19 are held to be out of order.
  10. An amendment is out of order if it is offered at a wrong place in the bill.20
  11. Amendments or new clauses creating public charges cannot be proposed, if no Money resolution or Ways and Means resolution has been passed, or if the amendment or clause is not covered by the terms of such a resolution. This rule, which is of fundamental importance, is fully explained at paras 33.20, 35.27 and 36.4436.46.

It is to be noted that amendments affecting the interests of the Crown (see paras 30.7830.81 ) or which may make a bill hybrid (see paras 30.58 and 30.67 ) are admissible.21

Footnotes

  1. CJ (1856) 213; Parl Deb (1865) 179, c 521; ibid (1881) 258, c 1451; ibid (1893) 14, c 918; ibid (1896) 41, cc 12, 1702 (consideration), 1704 (consideration); ibid (1902) 114, c 912; ibid (1902) 116, c 1043; HC Deb (1919) 120, c 359.
  2. Parl Deb (1905) 147, c 311; ibid (1906) 158, c 355; HC Deb (1912) 41, c 2859; ibid (1914) 61, cc 128, 1069; ibid (1914) 68, c 745; ibid (1916) 78, c 661; ibid (1917) 99, c 526; ibid (1918) 105, c 1070; ibid (1918) 108, c 2045; ibid (1919) 121, c 1985; ibid (1923) 165, c 1357; ibid (1924) 169, c 1593; ibid (1926) 196, c 1627; ibid (1930) 234, cc 2123–29; ibid (1932) 264, c 595; ibid (1960–61) 630, cc 976–82.
  3. Parl Deb (1857) 147, cc 1189, 1190, 1198; ibid (1877) 232, c 1242; ibid (1877) 233, c 359; HC Deb (1959–60) 616, c 282.
  4. HC Deb (1914) 68, c 739; ibid (1917) 95, c 1048.
  5. Parl Deb (1862) 167, c 112; ibid (1872) 211, cc 137, 2026; ibid (1881) 258, c 1333; ibid (1885) 296, c 800; ibid (1886) 305, c 83; ibid (1889) 74, c 851; ibid (1902) 111, cc 962–65; HC Deb (1910) 18, c 647; ibid (1914) 61, c 128; ibid (1919) 117, c 1739.
  6. Parl Deb (1881) 258, cc 1239, 1455; ibid (1896) 41, c 360; ibid (1902) 113, c 493; ibid (1908) 198, c 883 (consideration); HC Deb (1911) 30, c 449; ibid (1912) 44, c 2199.
  7. HC Deb (1911) 22, c 1666; ibid (1915) 75, c 927; ibid (1916) 83, c 1738; CJ (1920) 303; HC Deb (1920) 132, c 319.
  8. Tithe Rent-Charge Recovery Bill, 29 January 1891, private ruling: Parl Deb (1899) 70, c 449; ibid (1902) 112, c 203; HC Deb (1909) 7, c 496; ibid (1911) 23, c 2251; ibid (1917) 97, c 1284; ibid (1917) 98, c 96; ibid (1919) 119, c 1499; ibid (1921) 143, c 2205; ibid (1939–40) 357, cc 2293–95.
  9. HC Deb (1918) 106, c 1703. This rule is sometimes relaxed in minor cases, and was held not to apply to the Canada Bill 1982, which contained both an English and French text, so far as the tabling of consequential amendments to the French text was concerned (HC Deb (1981–82) 18, c 290).
  10. HC Deb (1910) 19, c 2398; ibid (1917) 92, cc 790, 823, 824, 1679; ibid (1917) 100, c 1875; ibid (1918) 107, c 136; ibid (1943–44) 400, c 1809.
  11. Parl Deb (1880) 251, cc 1134–37; ibid (1903) 122, cc 1886, 1897; cf also the Speaker's ruling on a proposed amendment to sch 2 to the Air Force Bill, HC Deb (1917) 99, c 817; ibid (1981–82) 18, c 762.
  12. Parl Deb (1869) 196, c 74; HC Deb (1915) 72, c 1961; ibid (1915) 74, c 1648; ibid (1916) 82, c 473; ibid (1917) 95, c 1048; ibid (1920) 129, c 92; ibid (1920) 131, c 2421.
  13. Parl Deb (1896) 41, cc 873–75; ibid (1899) 74, c 326; ibid (1908) 197, c 1107. But see also Parl Deb (1870) 200, c 1058.
  14. Parl Deb (1851) 116, c 666; ibid (1870) 200, c 1057; cf HC Deb (1911) 30, c 1938, where the same ruling was applied in the case of an amendment to leave out part of the first subsection of a clause in order to insert an alternative scheme. Cf also the Chairman's ruling on the Ottawa Agreements Bill, HC Deb (1932) 269, cc 1330–38.
  15. HC Deb (1916) 85, c 2163.
  16. HC Deb (6 September 2011) 532, c 186.
  17. Parl Deb (1908) 195, c 551; HC Deb (1915) 73, c 558; ibid (1915) 75, c 887; ibid (1916) 78, c 235; ibid (1917) 92, c 1713. In the case of a new clause on consideration, HC Deb (1913) 53, c 1195.
  18. HC Deb (1914) 61, c 189.
  19. Parl Deb (1882) 270, c 862; ibid (1898) 58, c 461; HC Deb (1910) 19, c 1718 (consideration); ibid (1915) 71, c 2172 (consideration); ibid (1976–77) 926, c 1670.
  20. Parl Deb (1898) 57, c 54; ibid (1898) 60, c 651; ibid (1899) 74, c 326.
  21. In accordance with the latter rule, amendments were made to the Park Lane Improvement Bill 1957–58 (already a hybrid bill), which, if it had been a private bill, would have required a petition for additional provision. The bill was referred to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills on motion at report stage (CJ (1957–58) 147).