Hybrid instruments

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31.29In the House of Lords but not in the House of Commons, there is a procedure for the consideration of hybrid instruments. House of Lords Private Business Standing Order 216 provides that, where in the opinion of the Chairman of Committees (known as the Senior Deputy Speaker), an affirmative instrument, as defined by Lords Public Business Standing Order No 73(2), is such that, apart from the provisions of the Act authorising it to be made, it would require to be enacted by a private or hybrid bill, the Chairman shall report that opinion to the House and to the Minister or other person responsible for it. An instrument upon which such a report has been made is known as a hybrid instrument1 and is subject to petitioning procedure. No motion to approve a hybrid instrument may be moved until the proceedings under Standing Order 216 have been terminated.2

Any petition asking the House not to affirm a hybrid instrument must be deposited with the Clerk of the Parliaments within 14 days following the day on which the Chairman's report is laid before the House. If no petition is received, the Chairman reports accordingly to the House. Any petition received during the period, together with the instrument petitioned against, stands referred to the Hybrid Instruments Committee.

The Hybrid Instruments Committee, after considering any representations by the parties to the proceedings, decides whether the petitioner has a right to have their petition considered (locus standi ). If it so decides, the Committee reports to the House, in accordance with the criteria specified in Standing Order 216, whether there ought to be a further inquiry by a select committee into all or any of the matters specified by the petitioner.

A select committee on a hybrid instrument consists of five members, appointed by the House on the proposal of the Committee of Selection, with orders of reference specified by the House.3 Where the Hybrid Instruments Committee reports that there ought not to be an inquiry, or where the House so resolves, proceedings under the Standing Order are concluded.4

The procedure is modified in the case of an expedited hybrid instrument which is defined in Standing Order 216A as an instrument which, by virtue of the Act authorising it to be made, is, after the expiry of a period prescribed by that Act (the ‘prescribed period’), to proceed in Parliament as if its provisions would, apart from that Act, require to be enacted by a public bill that is not hybrid.5

The hybrid instruments procedure does not apply to negative instruments or those not subject to parliamentary control.


  1. 1. SO 216 provides that orders made under the Manoeuvres Act 1958 (c 7), s 1 shall not be the subject of a report. It is not uncommon for a statute to contain a provision requiring an instrument to be treated for the purposes of the standing orders as if it were not a hybrid instrument, see eg Local Government Finance Act 1988 (c 41), s 143(11); Railways Act 1993 (c 43), sch 11, para 13(3); Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (c 24), s 13; Licensing Act 2003 (c 17), s 197(5); Charities Act 2006 (c 50), s 74(6). This approach was debated in relation to the Railways Bill 1993, HL Deb (1992–93) 548, cc 715–44; ibid 549, cc 166–76 and 595–604.
  2. 2. A motion has been moved to dispense with Private Business SO 216 in respect of an amending order laid to give effect to the recommendations of the Hybrid Instruments Committee; London Docklands Development Corporation (Area and Constitution) (Amendment) Order 1981, HL Deb (1980–81) 421, cc 965–66.
  3. 3. For examples of select committees on hybrid instruments, see London Docklands Development Corporation (Area and Constitution) Order 1980, LJ (1980–81) 123; Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (Area and Constitution) Order 1987, ibid (1986–87) 202, 292; Bristol Development Corporation (Area and Constitution) Order 1988, ibid (1987–88) 842, 953; and West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (Area and Constitution) Order 2004, ibid (2003–04) 677. In all four cases, the House agreed that the proceedings should be conducted ‘as if they were a committee on an opposed Private Bill’.
  4. 4. In 1990, the House agreed to the report of the Hybrid Instruments Committee that the London Docklands Development Corporation (Vesting of Land) (London Borough of Southwark) Order 1989 be referred to a select committee, and so ordered. The House subsequently discharged the orders and referred the order back to the Hybrid Instruments Committee which concluded that no inquiry by a select committee should take place, LJ (1988–89) 729, 742; ibid (1989–90) 195–245; HL Deb (1988–89) 512, c 1319; ibid (1989–90) 516, c 833.
  5. 5. Expedited hybrid instruments may be made under the Offshore Petroleum Development (Scotland) Act 1975, s 1(7). There have been no instances of expedited hybrid instruments since SO 216A was made (LJ (1974–75) 437).