Suspension or revival of bills

45.37If a private bill is not expected to receive Royal Assent before the end of a session, the promoters may apply to the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Lord Chairman of Committees for leave to suspend proceedings on the bill, with a view to continuing them in the following session. Alternatively, if proceedings to suspend a bill are not successful or (in the case of a dissolution) have not been attempted, promoters may apply in the new session for the bill to be revived. Suspension and revival are governed by Standing Orders 188A and 188B respectively (150A and 150B in the Lords). Suspension or revival motions are not always agreed to by the House;1 and the Chairman is generally unwilling to entertain an application for a suspension motion where a bill originating in the Commons has not received a second reading by the end of a normal session.2 Suspension is equally effective for a new session of the same Parliament or for a new Parliament.3

Motions to suspend bills originate in the House in which the bill is at that time, and a message is sent to the other House to acquaint them with the order passed. If the other House has already passed the bill it makes parallel orders, but if it has not yet received the bill it concurs with the orders made by the first House.4 (Revival motions are dealt with similarly.) The making of a suspension order does not preclude further progress by the bill in the same session. Orders have also been made for the suspension or revival of a hybrid bill5 and for the suspension of private business standing orders relating to a hybrid bill.6

The rule that no Member may speak twice to the same question has been relaxed in the case of a suspension motion to permit a Member who has already spoken to move amendments to it.7

In the session following that in which an order for suspension was made (or in the same session as a revival order), the agent for the bill deposits in the Private Bill Office a copy of the bill together with a declaration that the bill is in the form required by the standing order. If the bill has been brought from the Lords in the previous session and amended, the order provides for it to be reintroduced in the form in which it was brought from the Lords and for the same amendments to be made to it as were made by the committee on the bill in the previous session.8 Otherwise the order provides that the deposited bill should be the same in every respect as the bill at the last stage of proceedings in the previous session. In either case the bill is then deemed to have passed through the same stages as in the previous session and no further fees are charged for those stages. The standing orders also make provision for outstanding petitions against the bill to remain valid.

A bill may be suspended before being reported from the committee to which it has been referred.9

A bill may be suspended or revived more than once.10

It was formerly the practice, in the case of a dissolution, to suspend (or revive) all private bills in a single motion, and the same procedure has occasionally been adopted after a prorogation.11 It is now more usual for bills to be dealt with individually or in small groups of related bills.


  1. See proceedings on Kent River Board (Harbour of Rye) Bill 1962, CJ (1961–62) 313; Ashdown Forest Bill [Lords] 1973, ibid (1972–73) 490; Cromarty Petroleum Order Confirmation Bill 1976, ibid (1975–76) 572; Southampton Rapid Transit Bill [Lords] (revival), CJ (1990–91) 145.
  2. Bodmin Moor Commons Bill [Lords] 1998. The Chairman of Ways and Means declined to entertain an application for a suspension.
  3. HC Deb (1977–78) 955, cc 340–41.
  4. Examples: Commons and Lords Bills pending in Lords (suspension): CJ (2005–06) 857, 874; ibid (2006–07) 16; LJ (2005–06) 1212–13, 1243; ibid (2006–07) 7, 24; two Lords and four Commons Bills pending in Commons (revival): CJ (2008–09) 285, 331, 343; LJ (2008–09) 321, 355, 377. Debate should be related to the merits of the motion: HC Deb (2008–09) 491, cc 177, 179, 200.
  5. Suspensions: Channel Tunnel Bill, CJ (1985–86) 600 and ibid (1986–87) 394; Cardiff Bay Barrage Bill, ibid (1991–92) 313; Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill, ibid (1994–95) 537; Crossrail Bill, CJ (2004–05) 328, ibid (2005–06) 858, ibid (2006–07) 601. Revival: Channel Tunnel Bill, CJ (1974–75) 58. In the cases of the Crossrail Bill and the Channel Tunnel Bill, the order was framed in such a way as to render unnecessary any further Money or Ways and Means resolution.
  6. Relating to the Channel Tunnel Bill, CJ (1973–74) 160.
  7. HC Deb (1977–78) 955, cc 338–39.
  8. This procedure exists to enable the Lords to consider the Commons amendments in due course. Before 2005, suspension orders in such cases required the bill to be committed to the Chairman of Ways and Means to make the necessary amendments (eg CJ (1997–98) 71). The amendments would now be made in the Private Bill Office.
  9. CJ (1989–90) 628; ibid (1992–93) 767, 826–27.
  10. For example, of the ten bills revived at the start of Session 2010–12, eight had been previously suspended or revived at least once, one of which originated in Session 2006–07: the Transport for London (Supplemental Toll Provisions) Bill [Lords].
  11. For example, HC Deb (1974–75) 880, cc 382–83 (dissolution); ibid (1989–90) 163, cc 911–31 (prorogation).