Standing Orders Committee (House of Commons)

43.9The composition of the Standing Orders Committee is prescribed by Standing Order 103 (HC). It consists of the Chairman of Ways and Means, who is ex officio Chair of the committee, the Deputy Chairmen, and eight members nominated by the Committee of Selection at the beginning of every Parliament. The quorum of the committee is three, and the committee has the assistance of the Counsel to the Speaker.

All the reports of the Examiners of Petitions for Private Bills in which they report that the standing orders have not been complied with are referred to the Standing Orders Committee, irrespective of whether the bills to which the reports relate are to originate in the Lords or in the Commons. The committee has to determine and to report to the House, in each case, whether the standing orders not complied with ought or ought not to be dispensed with, and whether, in its opinion, the parties should be permitted to proceed with their bill, or any portion of it, and upon what terms and conditions (if any).

When the Examiner has found that the standing orders have not been complied with in the case of a petition for a bill, and the Standing Orders Committee of the House in which the bill originates has reported that they should be dispensed with, the Standing Orders Committee of the second House does not defer its decision until the bill reaches its House, but at once considers and pronounces upon the Examiner's report also. By adopting this course it removes the possibility of a promoter proceeding with their bill through the first House and then finding its subsequent progress barred because the Standing Orders Committee in the second House takes a different view from that taken in the first House. In practice, the view taken by both committees in these cases has, as a rule, been the same.1

Where the Examiner has made a special report under Standing Order 79 as to the construction of a standing order, the committee has to determine, according to its construction of the order and on the facts stated in the report, whether the standing orders have or have not been complied with. It reports to the House either that the standing orders have been complied with or, if not complied with, proceeds to consider whether the standing orders ought to be dispensed with and reports to the House accordingly.2


  1. 1. For cases in which there were differences in the reports made, see Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Traction, Petition for Bill, CJ (1946–47) 127, LJ (1946–47) 144; Great Northern London Cemetery (Crematorium), Petition for Bill, CJ (1952–53) 96, LJ (1952–53) 58; St John d'el Rey Mining Company, Petition for Bill, CJ (1959–60) 166, LJ (1959–60) 170; Clerical, Medical and General Life Assurance Society, Petition for Bill, CJ (1959–60) 185, LJ (1959–60) 192; Great Yarmouth Borough Council Bill [Lords] (petition for additional provision), CJ (1980–81) 333, LJ (1980–81) 452.
  2. 2. CJ (1934–35) 160, 173; ibid (1946–47) 56, 116; ibid (1975–76) 195, 217; ibid (1989–90) 637.