In the Commons

30.32In 1997 the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons recommended a variety of methods by which the House's scrutiny of legislation might be improved. Since these would tend to increase the time bills took to complete their passage through Parliament the Committee recommended that in certain defined circumstances it should be possible to carry a bill over to complete its remaining stages in the next session.1 The Committee was also concerned to spread the burden of legislation more evenly through the session. It subsequently recommended that bills should be carried over by means of ad hoc motions; that in the interests of simplicity the procedure should be used in respect of bills which had not yet left the first House; and that the eligibility of bills for carry-over should be settled by agreement. It did ‘not see carry-over as an expedient to be resorted to if the Government were to lose its grip on its own legislative programme’.2 The type of ad hoc motion envisaged by the Committee was applied to just one bill, the Financial Services and Markets Bill, introduced in the Commons in 1999.3

A further report from the Modernisation Committee in 2002 called for a longer time-perspective for legislation so as to permit more thorough scrutiny within the parameters set by the duration of a Parliament and the associated mandate, and recommended that standing orders be amended to allow a bill to be carried over by resolution for an experimental period. It also recommended that no bill should be carried over for more than one extra session, and that if a bill was not completed (or had not arrived from the Lords) more than 12 months after its introduction it should not be further proceeded with in the Commons unless a fresh motion had been passed. The Committee saw carry-over as relevant to those bills introduced after Easter,4 and did not envisage that it should be restricted to those bills which had undergone pre-legislative scrutiny following publication in draft.5

On 29 October 2002, the House agreed to a temporary standing order embodying the Committee's proposals, and a number of carry-over motions were agreed to under its provisions.6 The temporary standing order was replaced by Standing Order No 80A on 26 October 2004.7 Specific provision for carry-over of bills brought in upon Ways and Means resolutions is made by Standing Order No 80B, to facilitate the carry-over of finance bills once it became standard for prorogation and the State Opening of Parliament to take place in the spring rather than the autumn and when Budgets took place in the spring.8

For the suspension of hybrid and private bills, see para 45.37.


  1. 1. First Report, The Legislative Process, HC 190 (1997–98) paras 67–69, 102.
  2. 2. Third Report, Carry-over of Public Bills, HC 543 (1997–98).
  3. 3. CJ (1998–99) 383. See Erskine May (24th edn, 2011), p 640 for more detail.
  4. 4. At the time, sessions normally began and ended in the autumn.
  5. 5. Second Report, Modernisation of the House of Commons: A Reform Programme, HC 1168-I (2001–02) paras 35–44.
  6. 6. CJ (2002–03) 441; CJ (2002–03) 638; CJ (2003–04) 530, 579, 583.
  7. 7. First applied to Welfare Reform Bill, CJ (2005–06) 780; for a more recent example, see Prisons and Courts Bill, Votes and Proceedings, 20 March 2017. For other examples of bills subject to carry-over motions, see R Kelly Carry-over of public bills (House of Commons Library Briefing Paper SN03236, 2017).
  8. 8. CJ (2010–12) 1039; HC Deb (14 December 2011) 537, c 814. First applied to Finance (No. 4) Bill, CJ (2010–12) 1289. See also Votes and Proceedings, 11 April 2016 and para 33.16.