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‘Double insistence’ and the loss of the bill

30.25In order to secure agreement and save the bill, every effort at compromise is usually made, and this interchange of amendments, as has been already stated (para 30.13 ), can be carried still further. Usually, however, the proceedings do not go beyond the stage already described, and one House or the other does not persist in its disagreement.

A situation where one House insists on its amendment after the other House has insisted on its disagreement to it is described as ‘double insistence’. A bill is normally lost on ‘double insistence’. This is also referred to as ‘three shots at the same target’. The chain of events by which a bill originating in the Commons and amended by the Lords would normally be lost may be shown as follows:

  • the Commons disagree to the amendment with a reason;
  • the Lords insist on their amendment with a reason;
  • the Commons insist on their disagreement to the amendment, or take no action before the end of the session.

Thus, each House has one opportunity of drawing back from the position which it has taken up, unless it offers alternative proposals.

In more complex exchanges between the two Houses, a bill may also be lost without ‘double insistence’ when it becomes apparent that stalemate has been reached. In the last of the exchanges on the European Parliamentary Elections Bill (1997–98), the Commons insisted on their disagreement to Lords amendments and offered an amendment in lieu, and the Lords insisted on their amendments and disagreed to the amendment in lieu, at which point the Bill was lost.1

It must be remembered, however, that there is no binding rule of order which governs these proceedings in either House, and, if there is a desire to save a bill, some variation in the proceedings may be devised in order to effect this object.2


  1. 1. CJ (1997–98) 821, 823.
  2. 2. See eg CJ (1907) 453; ibid (1948–49) 401–10; ibid (1983–84) 508, 550, 609, 625. For prolonged and ultimately successful attempts to find a compromise on an amendment to the European Parliamentary and Local Elections (Pilots) Bill, see CJ (2003–04) 159, 180, 202, 204, 211, 237, 241, 245, 250, 252, 259; see also HL Deb (2003–04) 661, cc 151–55.