House of Commons Modernisation — 20 Nov 2000

John Prescott MP, Kingston upon Hull East did not vote.

I beg to move,

That this House approves the Third Report on Thursday Sittings (HC 954) and the Fourth Report on Sittings in Westminster Hall (HC 906) of the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons.

That, from the next Session of Parliament until the end of the first Session of the next Parliament, the Standing Orders and practice of the House shall have effect subject to the modifications set out below:

A. (1) The House shall meet on Thursdays at half-past Eleven o'clock, and will first proceed with private business, motions for unopposed returns and questions;

(2) proceedings on business on Thursdays shall be interrupted at Seven o'clock; and

(3) in their application to Thursday sittings of the House, reference to a specified time in the Standing Orders shall be interpreted as reference to a time three hours before the time so specified, save that reference to half-past Ten o'clock shall be substituted for reference to Twelve o'clock in Standing Order No. 24 (Adjournment on a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration).

B. Standing committees shall have leave to sit at any hour and notwithstanding any adjournment of the House, subject to the following provisions:

(a) on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays when the House is sitting, no standing committee sitting at Westminster shall sit between the hours of One o'clock and half-past Three o'clock, except as provided in paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 88 (Meetings of standing committees); and

(b) on Thursdays when the House is sitting, no standing committees sitting at Westminster shall sit between the hours of twenty-five minutes past Eleven o'clock and half-past Twelve o'clock, except as provided in paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 88 (Meetings of

That, from the next session of Parliament until the end of the first Session of the next Parliament, the Standing Orders and practice of the House shall have effect subject to the modifications set out below:

(1) On days on which the House shall sit after an address has been agreed to in answer to Her Majesty's Speech there shall be a sitting in Westminster Hall--

(a) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between half-past Nine o'clock and Two o'clock; and

(b) on Thursdays beginning at half-past Two o'clock and continuing for up to three hours (and in calculating that period no account shall be taken of any period during which the sitting may be suspended owing to a division being called in the House or a committee of the whole House).

(2) Any Member of the House may take part in a sitting in Westminster Hall.

(3) Subject to paragraph (13) below, the business taken at any sitting in Westminster Hall shall be such as the Chairman of Ways and Means shall appoint.

(4) The Chairman of Ways and Means or a Deputy Chairman shall take the chair in Westminster Hall as Deputy Speaker; and the House may appoint not more than four other members of the Chairmen's Panel to sit in Westminster Hall as Deputy Speaker.

(5) Any member of the Chairmen's Panel may also take the chair at a sitting in Westminster Hall when so requested by the Chairman of Ways and Means, with the duties and powers conferred on additional Deputy Speakers; and Members so appointed shall be addressed by name.

(6) Any order made or resolution come to at a sitting in Westminster Hall (other than a resolution to adjourn) shall be reported to the House by the Deputy Speaker and shall be deemed to be an order or resolution of the House.

(7) If a motion be made by a Minister of the Crown that an order of the day be proceeded with at a sitting in Westminster Hall, the question thereon shall be put forthwith, but such motion may be made only with the leave of the House and may not be made on a Friday.

(8) The quorum at a sitting in Westminster Hall shall be three.

(9) If at a sitting in Westminster Hall the opinion of the Deputy Speaker as to the decision of a question (other than a question for adjournment) is challenged, that question shall not be decided, and the Deputy Speaker shall report to the House accordingly; and any such question shall be put forthwith upon a motion being made in the House.

(10) If any business other than a motion for adjournment is under consideration at a sitting in Westminster Hall, and not fewer than six Members rise in their places and signify their objection to further proceedings, that business shall not be further proceeded with in Westminster Hall, and the Deputy Speaker shall report to the House accordingly, and any order under paragraph (7) above relating thereto shall be discharged.

(11) At the end of each sitting in Westminster Hall, unless a question for adjournment has previously been agreed to, the Deputy Speaker shall adjourn the sitting without putting any question; and proceedings on any business which has been entered upon but not disposed of shall lapse.

(12) The provisions of Standing Orders No. 29 (Powers of chair to propose question), No. 36 (Closure of debate), No. 37 (Majority for closure or proposal of question), No. 38 (Procedure on divisions), No. 39 (Voting), No. 40 (Division unnecessarily claimed), No. 41 (Quorum), No. 43 (Disorderly conduct), No. 44 (Order in debate), No. 45 (Members suspended, &c. to withdraw from precincts), No. 45A (Suspension of salary of Members suspended) and No. 163 (Motions to sit in private) shall not apply to sittings in Westminster Hall.

(13) In each Session, the Speaker shall appoint not more than six Thursdays on which the business to be taken in Westminster Hall should be debates on select committee reports chosen by the Liaison Committee.

(14) The House shall meet on Wednesdays at half-past Two o'clock, and paragraphs (1) and (2) of Standing Order No. 9 (Sittings of the House) shall have effect on Wednesdays; and Standing Order No. 10 shall not have effect.

there are some Members who for years have been used to a full traditional Parliamentary day until 10.00 pm on a Thursday and who find the experiment not to their liking.

Flexibility is of the essence in Westminster Hall.

non-controversial business agreed through the usual channels which at present finds no place whatsoever in the time of the House

The Committee may also consider whether all sitting days should start in the morning and conclude by 5 pm or 6 pm. While this might suit those Members whose constituencies and homes are within easy distance of London, there are many Members who would not be able to get home each evening however early the House rose. In this respect the House is not like most other organisations. MPs have to work both in London and in their constituencies.

It will be up to the Committee to balance these competing interests, but the Government is not persuaded that a change of sitting hours to normal office hours is in the best interests of the House, individual Members or the Government.

Normal procedure at meetings is that the Minister or Ministers make a statement and then answer questions (for up to one hour or, if the Chairman sees fit, for 1½ hours), following which the motion is debated.

the era of pure representative democracy is coming to an end.

The Chamber's primacy as a forum for political debate . . . is now being challenged by the media, the judges, a devolved parliament and Europe.

The failure to recall Parliament during the fuel crisis of September 2000 was interpreted by many commentators as evidence of its irrelevance and the extent to which direct action has now superseded parliamentary representation.

The crisis illustrated the problem for Parliament. The chamber's work can often appear irrelevant to most voters. It rarely sets the day's news agenda and is often slow to respond to issues of public concern.

has serious implications for democracy.

Let us make a start by remembering that the function of Parliament is to hold the Executive to account . . . That is the role for which history has cast the Commons.--[ Official Report , 26 July 2000; Vol. 354, c. 1114.]

Parliament is one of the most important things in our democratic country. We must protect it; we must improve it. We must take back the power that others seek to take away from us.--[ Official Report , 23 October 2000; Vol. 355, c. 34.]

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House approves the Third Report on Thursday Sittings (HC 954) and the Fourth Report on Sittings in Westminster Hall (HC 906) of the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons.

THURSDAY SITTINGS AND STANDING COMMITTEES

Question put:--

The House divided: Ayes 275, Noes 22.

Historical Hansard | Online Hansard |

Party Summary

Votes by party, red entries are votes against the majority for that party.

What is Tell? '+1 tell' means that in addition one member of that party was a teller for that division lobby.

What are Boths? An MP can vote both aye and no in the same division. The boths page explains this.

What is Turnout? This is measured against the total membership of the party at the time of the vote.

PartyMajority (Aye)Minority (No)BothTurnout
Con2 20 (+2 tell)015.0%
Lab240 (+2 tell) 1058.8%
LDem31 0066.0%
PC2 0050.0%
UUP0 1011.1%
Total:275 22047.6%

Rebel Voters - sorted by party

MPs for which their vote in this division differed from the majority vote of their party. You can see all votes in this division, or every eligible MP who could have voted in this division

Sort by: Name | Constituency | Party | Vote

NameConstituencyPartyVote
Peter BottomleyWorthing WestCon (front bench)aye
Mr Ian BruceSouth DorsetConaye
Steve PoundEaling NorthLab (minister)no

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