Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill — Committee Stage — Approval of Public Spending — 19 Jun 2018 at 18:41

The majority of MPs voted against giving a committee considering a proposal to retain 650 MPs in the House of Commons express permission to carry out its work. The majority of MPs also voted not to prevent the proposal making progress towards becoming law without MPs approving the consequential public spending.

The motion rejected by the majority of MPs in this vote was:

  • That, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 48 and the practice of the House relating to the authorisation of charges upon the public revenue, the Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill Committee has leave to consider the Clauses of the Bill and any new Clauses that may be proposed to it; but the Bill may not be reported from the Committee before this House has passed a Money Resolution, for which the Queen’s Recommendation has been signified, in relation to the Bill.

The Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill[1] provides for there to be 650 MPs in the House of Commons. The Bill provided for a reversal of a reduction to 600 provided for in Section 11 of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011[2].

The Parliamentary Constituencies (Amendment) Bill[1] also provided for a fixed allocation of 18 constituencies in Northern Ireland and to increase the permitted variation in the size of the electorate between constituencies from +/-5%, to +/-7.5% of the mean average.

The rejected motion would have prevented the Bill from making progress to the report stage of the process of becoming a law without the House of Commons passing "a Money Resolution, for which the Queen’s Recommendation has been signified"; it may also have given the Bill Committee the confidence to make progress with its work, with the express backing of the House of Commons.

The rejected motion would have had both positive and negative impacts on the progress of the Bill to becoming law. The most critical real impact would have been making the money resolution a prerequisite for the Bill entering the report stage, however the context of the vote was a committee which did not consider it was able to consider the Bill, an issue the motion, if passed, would have addressed. When the Bill Committee met for the first time on the 9th of May 2018 Afzal Khan MP (Manchester Gorton, Labour) stated[3]:

  • we cannot discuss a single issue of substance without a money resolution

The committee chair Nadine Dorries MP (Conservative, Mid Bedfordshire) agreed stating[4]:

  • the Committee cannot consider the clauses of the Bill until the House has agreed to a money resolution

Subsequently the committee then met weekly, many times, each time adjourning its proceedings on the grounds it considered it could not consider the Bill without a money resolution[5].

The committee's understanding may well be based on a statement in the 24th edition of Erskine May: Parliamentary Practice, 24th Edition, which reportedly states on page 542:[6]

  • If ... a bill is of the kind which does not require to be brought in on financial resolutions, any financial provisions which it may contain must be authorized by a resolution of the House before they can be considered by the committee on the bill.

This statement is apparently not supported by any reference to the House of Commons Standing Orders, or any precedents in the official record of proceedings in Parliament, nor is it sourced in any other way. A genuine copy of the book has not been consulted to confirm this understanding, and in any case isn't freely available online to cite via an easily checkable link. When speaking in the debate prior to this vote Andrea Leadsom MP (Conservative, South Northamptonshire) the Leader of the House of Commons stated: "The conventions of the House are very clearly set out in 'Erskine May'"[7] and quoted part of the section which has been quoted here.

The motion refers to House of Commons standing order 48[8], titled: Recommendation from Crown required on application relating to public money which in effect means a money resolution must be moved by a member of the Government. This appears to explain why the motion in question, rather than a money resolution, was being moved.

The rejected motion was moved by Valerie Vaz MP, who spoke to say the motion[9]:

  • proposes that we can debate the Bill before the Report stage, at which point it will be given its money resolution.

however the text of the rejected motion does not appear to have the effect of ensuring a money resolution would be forthcoming. The rejected motion does explicitly give the Bill committee to carry out its work.

House of Commons Standing Order 52[10] is titled: "Money resolutions and ways and means resolutions in connection with bills", it states:

  • (1)The Speaker shall put the questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on motions authorising expenditure in connection with a bill and on ways and means motions in connection with a bill—
  • (a)forthwith, if such a motion is made at the same sitting as that at which the bill has been read a second time; or
  • (b)not later than three-quarters of an hour after the commencement of those proceedings, if the motion is made otherwise.
  • (2)Business to which this order applies may be proceeded with at any hour, though opposed.

It appears this did not happen in the case of this Bill, apparently as the money resolution was not moved by a member of the Government.

House of Commons Standing Order 63(1)[11] states:

  • When a public bill (other than a Consolidated Fund or an Appropriation Bill, or a tax law rewrite bill, or a bill for confirming a provisional order) has been read a second time, it shall stand committed to a public bill committee unless the House otherwise orders.

The Official Record of the House of Commons on the 1st of December 2017[12] records, in respect of the Bill:

  • Bill accordingly read a Second time; to stand committed to a Public Bill Committee (Standing Order No. 63.)

The reference to the Public Bill Committee does not relate to anything actually said in the House of Commons[13], nor anything on the order paper[14]. That may explain why the motion was seeking more explicit approval from the House of Commons for the committee to continue its work.

Parliament's glossary entry for "Money resolutions"[15] states:

  • A Money resolution must be agreed to by the House of Commons if a new Bill proposes spending public money on something that hasn't previously been authorised by an Act of Parliament.
  • Money resolutions, like Ways and Means resolutions, are normally put to the House for agreement immediately after the Bill has passed its Second reading in the Commons.

The committee stage follows the second reading[1].

During the debate leading up to the vote Andrea Leadsom MP (Conservative, South Northamptonshire) the Leader of the House of Commons stated[16]:

  • the Government bring forward money resolutions for private Members’ Bill on a case-by-case basis.

Given the rejected motion would have had impacts which both helped and hindered the Bill's path to becoming law this division will not be taken into account when making statements on TheyWorkForYou about MPs' stance on the number of MPs, or the distribution of the electorate between constituencies. If passed the motion might well have prompted the committee to consider the Bill, however the new barrier of requiring a money resolution before the report stage would have been introduced.

Debate in Parliament |

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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 (No)Minority (Aye)BothTurnout
Con298 (+2 tell) 0094.9%
DUP0 0110.0%
Green0 10100.0%
Independent0 3050.0%
Lab0 235 (+2 tell)091.9%
LDem0 9075.0%
PC0 3075.0%
SNP0 32091.4%
Total:298 283191.3%

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

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no rebellions

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