Special procedure orders

42.18The provisional order system introduced in the latter half of the nineteenth century (and which is now virtually redundant)1 was gradually superseded by a system of special procedure orders under the Statutory Orders (Special Procedure) Acts 1945 and 1965. The scope of these Acts has in turn been eroded by subsequent legislation, and special procedure orders are now usually required only in cases where certain protected categories of land are subject to compulsory acquisition.

After a special procedure order is laid by a Minister before Parliament, along with a certificate stating that various preliminary proceedings have been complied with,2 objectors have 21 days to deposit petitions against the order or in favour of amendments. The Chairman of Ways and Means and the Senior Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords determine any questions on the right of petitioners to be heard before reporting to both Houses whether any petitions remain against the order.3 Within 21 days of their report, any Member of either House may move that the order be annulled or that petitions against the order be not referred to a joint committee. If the order is annulled there can be no further proceedings upon it, although a fresh order may later be introduced. If no further petitions remain against, or seeking amendments to, the order, it comes into force.4 Otherwise the remaining petitions are referred to a joint committee, where it is for the petitioners to prove the facts of their case. The committee may approve the order, with or without amendments, or decline to approve it.5

If the order is reported from the committee without amendment, or with amendments which are accepted by the Minister, it comes into force. Even if, however, the order is reported with amendments which are not accepted, or the order is not approved by the committee, a Minister may nevertheless introduce a public bill to confirm the order. Such bills, after presentation in both Houses, proceed directly to report stage and then to third reading: although bills introduced to confirm orders which have not been approved by a joint committee, and where a petition for amendment has not been dealt with, are committed after second reading to the original joint committee for consideration of the petition, and after being reported from the committee are considered on report and read the third time and in the second House proceed directly from presentation to report stage.6


  1. 1. See Erskine May (21st edn, 1989), pp 953–56. No bills to confirm provisional orders have been introduced since 1980.
  2. 2. Erskine May (21st edn, 1989), p 952.
  3. 3. Erskine May (21st edn, 1989), pp 969, 961.
  4. 4. Erskine May (21st edn, 1989), pp 956–60.
  5. 5. Erskine May (21st edn, 1989), pp 960–62.
  6. 6. Erskine May (21st edn, 1989), pp 962–63.