First reading and referral to the Examiners

45.3A private bill is deemed to have been read the first time by being ‘laid on the Table of the House’.1 It is then recorded in the Votes and Proceedings and Journal as having have been read the first time and ordered to be read a second time.

A private bill brought from the House of Lords is deemed to have been read the first time on the day on which it is received from that House, and it is recorded in the Votes and Proceedings as having been so read. It is then referred to the Examiners for proof of compliance with such standing orders as have not been previously inquired into.2 For the procedure on personal bills, see para 43.3.

Whenever any alteration has been made in any work authorised by any bill in respect of which a plan or section is required under Standing Order 27 to be deposited during its progress through the House in which it originates, proof has to be given before the Examiner, when the bill reaches the second House, of compliance with certain conditions which are specified in detail in the Standing Order.3 These conditions correspond to those with which compliance has to be proved, before the presentation of such a bill, under the preliminary standing orders already mentioned, including notices to, and obtaining consents from, owners, lessees and occupiers of land through which the alteration is to be made. Compliance with this order is not necessary when alterations have been made upon a petition for additional provision in the first House.

Under what are known as the ‘Wharncliffe’ Standing Orders,4 bills conferring particular powers upon companies constituted by Act of Parliament or otherwise have to be referred, in both Houses, to the Examiners for proof that the bills have been duly approved of by the proprietors or members of the companies concerned, in the manner prescribed in the orders.5 Similarly, under Standing Order 68, where a bill proposes to set up a company, proof must be given to the Examiners that the bill has the agreement of any person named in it as a director, etc. The particular provisions of this Standing Order and of the six ‘Wharncliffe’ Orders are practically identical in both Houses, and are described here in their House of Commons form.

The ‘Wharncliffe’ Orders fall into three pairs: Standing Orders 62 and 65, 63 and 66, and 64 and 67, the second order of each pair dealing with the same subject as the first Order of the pair when the bill originates in the second House, or when provisions, of a kind specified in the order, have been inserted in that House. These pairs of standing orders deal, respectively, with the obtaining of the necessary consents of: proprietors of statutory companies promoting bills; members of registered companies, whether they fall within the meaning of the Companies Acts or are otherwise constituted; and members of companies which are not themselves promoters but are controlled by the promoting company. In the first House such bills are referred to the Examiners after second reading for proof of compliance with these standing orders. In the second House, when such a bill is referred to the Examiners after first reading, proof is given (if necessary) that there has been compliance with these standing orders.


  1. 1. SO 169.
  2. 2. SO 74 and 166.
  3. 3. SO 61.
  4. 4. SO 62–67. Named after Lord Wharncliffe, who was largely responsible for framing the first order of this nature and for its adoption in 1838 by the House of Lords. See O C Williams Historical Development of Private Bill Procedure (1949) Vol I, pp 162–68.
  5. 5. For the right of proprietors, etc dissenting under SO 62–68 to be heard before the Examiners, cf SO 76, and para 44.6.