Proceedings in committee
30.67The proceedings in a select committee on a hybrid bill are conducted in the main in the same manner as those in a committee on a private bill (see paras 45.20 –45.25 ) and not those in a select committee on a public bill (see paras 38.88 –38.89 ). Unless the House has given any instruction or indication to the contrary, the second reading is considered to remove from the promoters the onus of proving the expediency of the bill and committees have declined to hear evidence on the principle of the bill as already endorsed by the House.1
The petitioner, therefore, opens to the committee, calling such relevant evidence as they wish. If the committee determines that there is a case to answer, the promoters then answer the petitioner's case, and if they call evidence this entitles the petitioner to a right of reply. The procedure is, however, subject to the will of the committee and the requirements imposed by each bill.2 This procedure is not affected by the presence or absence of a preamble to the bill.
Chairs of select committees on hybrid bills have exercised only a casting vote (and not, as in a private bill committee, an original vote).3
All opponents who have submitted petitions within the time allowed by the order of the House,4 and who have a right to have their petition considered according to the rules and usage of Parliament, are entitled to be heard, but may not argue on matters beyond the scope of their right to have their petition considered. If the petitioner's right to have their petition considered is objected to, it is decided by the committee, upon whom the decisions of the Court of Referees (see para 44.4 ) are binding.5 The committee also decides the limits of the right of each petitioner to have their petition considered.6
Witnesses before a committee on a hybrid bill are usually, though not always,7 examined on oath.
When the case for the petitioners has been concluded and the promoters heard in reply, the committee goes through the clauses of the bill and reports it with or without amendments.8
If the House passes a suitable instruction, either following second reading or at a later stage, amendments may be made in committee which, if the bill were a private bill, would require a petition for additional provision.9 Such amendments make necessary further reference to the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills (see para 28.105 ).
When a joint committee has not considered it expedient to proceed further with a hybrid bill, it has reported the bill without amendment to the House and made a special report to that effect.10
If the committee wishes to express its views upon the matters dealt with in the bill, it makes a special report to the House.11
Similarly, if a committee on a hybrid bill is informed that it is not intended to proceed with the bill, it reports the fact to the House.12
Fees are charged to opponents of a hybrid bill as if it were a private bill.13 Fees are also charged in like manner to promoters, except in the case of bills introduced by the Government, but these fees are payable only in respect of those proceedings which are of a character analogous to those on a private bill.
The evidence taken before a committee on a hybrid bill is printed by order, and at the expense, of the House. Committees are normally given power to report the evidence from day to day, and the evidence is published on the Committee website.
- 1. HC 728i–xii (1994–95) p 2.
- 2. HC 191 (1947–48) para 34. See, for example, HC 235i-v (2006–07).
- 3. HC 34 (1986–87) p clviii.
- 4. If an opponent fails to present a petition in due time, that opponent must be invited to give a written explanation of why the petition was late. The relevant Minister may provide a written response to this explanation. The Standing Orders Committee decides whether the petition should be accepted, and, if it decides to accept the petition, the Committee must report this to the House. There is no appeal from the decision of the Standing Orders Committee (SO 171C).
- 5. For example, Proceedings of Select Committees on the Severn Bridges Bill (HC 439 (1990–91)) and on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill (HC 728-i (1994–95)).
- 6. HC 191 (1947–48) paras 20–25.
- 7. See proceedings of the Select Committee on the Mercantile Marine (Memorial) Bill, HC 57 (1927) p iv.
- 8. Parliament Square (Improvements) Bill, CJ (1948–49) 420; in this case the committee obtained leave to report minutes of speeches delivered by counsel.
- 9. In 1958, an instruction was moved by the Government to the committee on the Park Lane Improvement Bill (a hybrid bill), empowering it to make certain amendments which would have required an additional provision had they been made to a private bill. The bill as amended was subsequently referred to the Examiners and, after they had found a non-compliance with standing orders, to the Standing Orders Committees of both Houses, who recommended that the Bill should be allowed to proceed, CJ (1957–58) 147, 153, 169. The committee on another hybrid bill, the Channel Tunnel Bill 1985–87, was given power by instruction to make alternative provision for access by road to the terminal area, CJ (1985–86) 512. In the event, it did not exercise this power, although the select committee in the Lords subsequently amended the bill to include such a provision. Similarly, the committee on the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill was empowered by instruction to make a number of amendments which required dispensation from the respective Standing Orders Committees before they could be formally agreed by the committee, CJ (1994–95) 538–39; ibid (1995–96) 154. The committee on the Crossrail Bill was also given power to consider a wide range of matters and to make amendments with respect to any of them, CJ (2005–06) 364.
- 10. CJ (1927) 321.
- 11. For example, Special Reports of the Committees on the Channel Tunnel Bill (HC 34 (1986–87)), the Severn Bridges Bill (HC 439 (1990–91)), the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill (HC 204 (1995–96)) and the Crossrail Bill (HC 235 (2005–06)). The final Special Report of the Select Committee on the High Speed Rail (London–West Midlands) Bill (Second Special Report of Session 2015–16, HC 129) not only gave an account of the Committee's views on the bill's provisions but also set out a number of recommendations for changes to the procedures for petitioning against hybrid bills and for select committees on such bills.
- 12. CJ (1890–91) 398.
- 13. See Table of Fees in Standing Orders (Private Business) and paras 43.18 –43.19.