Part Eight: Proceedings on Amendments

Part Eight: Proceedings on Amendments

8.1 This part of the guidance deals with how proceedings on amendments unfold in the Private Bill Committee or in the Parliament. Most of it applies to all Stages, and in the context of proceedings at Final Stage or Reconsideration Stage, references to the convener should be read as references to the Presiding Officer, and references to the committee as references to the Parliament. Guidance that applies only at Consideration Stage is set out at the end.

Proceedings at all Stages

Calling amendments

8.2 It is for the convener to call amendments in turn from the Marshalled List. Each amendment is called – and, if moved, disposed of – individually in its place in the list.

8.3 The only situation in which an amendment on the Marshalled List may not be called is where it would be inconsistent with a decision already taken at the same Stage (Rule 9A.12.11). Instances of this are described as “pre-emptions”. This will arise in a case where one amendment would, if agreed to, remove the text on which the later amendment relies. An amendment to leave out subsection (1), for example, would pre-empt any amendment to the text of that subsection. Pre-emptions may also arise with amendments aiming at the same result but at different points in the Bill, where agreeing to the later amendment would be inconsistent with disagreement to the earlier. (This will not, however, be treated as a pre-emption in any case where the later amendment may be regarded as the better means of achieving the shared intention.) In any instance of pre-emption, the convener will, before calling the earlier amendment, draw the Committee’s attention to the implications for the later amendment of agreeing to the earlier amendment.

8.4 However, this rule does not preclude all of a number of alternative amendments to the same place in the Bill being taken. Amendments to a provision setting a time limit (of, say, one month) might variously propose changing that limit to two, three and six months. Agreement to the first of those amendments would not prevent the others also being taken – since agreement to the first may be taken to involve only a decision that two months is better than one (which does not preclude a decision that three or six months is better still).

Moving amendments

8.5 If the member in whose name an amendment appears does not move it, any other member entitled to participate in the proceedings (limited, at Consideration Stage, to members of the Private Bill Committee) may do so (Rule 9A.12.15). The suggested form of words for moving an amendment – that is usually done at the end of the speech in support of it – is “Accordingly, I move amendment X”. The convener then calls other members of the Private Bill Committee to speak on the amendment (Rule 9A.12.13). At the end of the debate, the convener gives the member who moved the amendment an opportunity to reply to points made by other speakers, and to indicate whether he or she wishes to press the amendment to a decision.

Withdrawing amendments that have been moved

8.6 At any time after an amendment is moved, but before the question is put, the member who moved it may seek to withdraw it (Rule 9A.12.16). In that event, the convener must ask the Committee whether it agrees to the amendment being withdrawn. If any member dissents, the amendment cannot be withdrawn and the question on it must be put. If no member dissents, the amendment is withdrawn, and the next amendment is immediately called.

Putting the question and voting on amendments

8.7 After the debate on an amendment or a group of amendments is concluded, the convener “puts the question”, normally by saying “The question is that amendment X be agreed to. Are we all agreed?” Members who agree say “Yes”, those who disagree say “No”. If no member disagrees, the amendment is agreed to. If any member of the Committee disagrees to the question on an amendment, the convener will call a division.

8.8 Divisions normally take place by a show of hands (Rule 11.8.3). The convener says “Those in favour?”, “Those against?”, “Those abstaining?”, ensuring that hands are raised for long enough in each case to allow the clerks to note the names of those concerned. (If a Committee member requests a roll-call vote, and the convener agrees, the committee votes by the convener calling the members of the Committee in alphabetical order, each responding “Yes”, “No” or “Abstain”.)

Amendments in groups

8.9 As explained above, amendments are grouped in order to avoid repetition and to allow a single debate on the issue raised by a number of amendments. But grouping does not affect the requirement that each amendment is called, moved and disposed of in its place in the Marshalled List. The result is that a lengthy debate on a group of consecutive amendments may be followed by the disposal of those amendments in quick succession.

8.10 Where amendments are debated in a group because they are so closely related that they must stand or fall together then, if the first is agreed to, it can be expected that the others will also be agreed to when they are called. But each must be called and moved before it can be so agreed to.

8.1 Where an amendment is called having already been debated earlier, it cannot be debated again (Rule 9A.12.12). If the member wishes to move it he or she need only say “Moved” or “Moved formally” – but the convener may allow him or her to make a brief remark before the question is put. Where a number of such amendments in the name of the same member (and, at Consideration Stage, to the same section or schedule) are consecutive in the Marshalled List, they may be moved en bloc. If no member of the Committee objects, a single question on those amendments may also be put, but if any member does object, the amendments must be disposed of individually to the extent desired. If it is clear that the member who lodged a sequence of previously-debated amendments does not wish to move them, they need not be called individually. However, if any other member present entitled to participate in the proceedings (limited, at Consideration Stage, to members of the Private Bill Committee) indicates a wish to move such an amendment not moved by the member who lodged it, they may exercise their right to do so.

Amendments to amendments

8.12 Where there are amendments to an amendment, these will usually be grouped together. The procedure is similar to that described above, except that the amendments to the original amendment must be disposed of before that amendment is disposed of (Rule 9A.12.10). The procedure is as follows:

The convener calls the member who lodged the original amendment (amendment 35, say), who speaks in support of it, and may comment on the amendments to it, before moving it.
Immediately the convener calls the member who lodged amendment 35A, who speaks in support of it (and may comment on the original amendment and on the other amendments to it) before moving it.
The debate then takes place on amendment 35A. The convener calls other speakers, including the members who lodged the other amendments to the original amendment (35B and 35C, say), all of whom may comment on the relative merits of all the amendments under consideration.
At the end of the debate, the convener puts the question “that amendment 35A be agreed to”.
The convener then calls amendment 35B, which is moved formally (or not moved) by the member who lodged it.
If moved, the convener puts the question “that amendment 35B be agreed to”.
The convener then calls amendment 35C, which is moved formally (or not moved) by the member who lodged it.
If moved, the convener puts the question “that amendment 35C be agreed to”.
Finally, the convener puts the question “that amendment 35 (or amendment 35 as amended) be agreed to”.
Manuscript amendments

8.13 Amendments lodged after the normal deadline established by Rule 9A.12.2 or 2A are referred to as “manuscript amendments”. All late amendments fall into this category, whether they are lodged only minutes after the deadline or immediately before the point in proceedings on the Bill when they would have to be moved. Like any other amendment, a manuscript amendment must be lodged in writing with the clerk, and is subject to the criteria of admissibility set out in Rule 9A.12.5. A manuscript amendment at Final Stage is also subject to selection by the Presiding Officer under Rule 9A.10.4.

8.14 A manuscript amendment may be moved only with the convener’s agreement. The convener gives that agreement only if he or she “considers it is justified, in the circumstances, taking account of the disadvantages of lack of proper notice” (Rule 9A12.6). In applying that test, the convener should keep in mind that, although there may be a justification for manuscript amendments in particular circumstances, their frequent use erodes the effectiveness of the normal deadline, the purpose of which is to ensure that adequate notice is given of all amendments, both to members and to outside parties with an interest in the Bill. The disadvantages of reduced notice depend on the scope and complexity of the amendment, and are generally greater the less notice that is given – particularly at Final Stage (or Reconsideration Stage), normally the final opportunity to amend the Bill. There is a particular disadvantage in taking a last-minute manuscript amendment at a meeting of the Parliament, given the greater disruption that a suspension causes to Chamber proceedings. A last-minute Final Stage (or Reconsideration Stage) manuscript amendment may still be justified, however, if it would, for example, correct a defect in the Bill (such as a missed consequential) that had only just come to light. Agreement should not normally be given to move a manuscript amendment that could equally well have been lodged before the deadline. But where a non-manuscript amendment was lodged immediately before the normal deadline, and so is only available in print after that deadline has passed, agreement should normally be given to move any manuscript amendments that are lodged directly in response to that amendment, and on the first available day thereafter.

8.15 If a manuscript amendment is lodged in time for it to be included in the Marshalled List, it will be printed with an asterisk beside its number to indicate that it is a manuscript amendment. If it is lodged after the Marshalled List has been finalised, the amendment will normally be made available in print separately before it is moved. If the amendment is lodged during the proceedings, it may be necessary for the meeting to be suspended to allow the amendment to be made available. A manuscript amendment to leave out a section or schedule, however, may be moved without being available in print.

Proceedings at Consideration Stage

Agreement to sections and schedules

8.16 Rule 9A.9.5 requires every section and schedule to be agreed to at Consideration Stage. The question that is put is “that section/schedule x be agreed to” (and no motion is required for this). Before the question is put, the convener may give members the opportunity to raise any issues relevant to the section or schedule that have not been adequately discussed during consideration of amendments to it.

8.17 The question on a section or schedule is only put if there is no amendment to leave out the section or schedule. In other words, any substantive decision on whether the section or schedule should remain in the Bill is taken on an amendment. If an amendment to leave out the section or schedule is disagreed to, the question that the section or schedule be agreed to is not put (under the final sentence of Rule 9A.9.8). And if such an amendment is agreed to, it is no longer possible to agree to the section or schedule, since it no longer exists.

8.18 If no amendment to leave out the section or schedule has been lodged in advance, any member who does not wish to agree to the section or schedule must do so by moving a manuscript amendment to leave it out. So long as such an amendment is admissible, the convener should always consent to it being taken. In the case of a section containing provisions central to one of the principal purposes of the Bill, a manuscript amendment to leave it out may be inadmissible under Rule 9A.12.5(c) – which precludes “wrecking” amendments.

8.19 Because the only mechanism available to leave a section or schedule out of a Bill is by means of an amendment, putting the question on each section and schedule is, in practice, a formality. There is no obligation on members to agree when the question is put on the section or schedule, but disagreement does not lead to a division and cannot result in the omission of the section or schedule from the Bill.

8.20 Where there is a section or schedule to which no amendments have been lodged, the convener puts the question on that section or schedule at the appropriate point (i.e. immediately after the last amendment to the previous section or schedule has been disposed of) (Rule 9A.9.8). Where there are two or more consecutive sections or schedules to which no amendments have been lodged, a single question that they be agreed to may be put (Rule 9A.9.5). (But a manuscript amendment to leave out more than one section or schedule is not permitted – separate such amendments would be required.)

8.21 Although all amendments to a section or schedule are taken before the question is put on the section or schedule, amendments to divide or move the section or schedule are taken after the section or schedule has been agreed to. This is in order to allow the substance of the section or schedule to be finalised before deciding any issue of where in the Bill the section or schedule should go.

Consideration of the long title

8.22 At the end of Consideration Stage, any amendments to the long title are disposed of and the question is then put “that the long title be agreed to”.