Questions

In either House there are two principal usages for the word question. Curiously, the two are procedurally direct opposites. The sequence of Member moving a motion, and the Speaker ultimately putting the same proposition as a Question to the House is the basic building block of parliamentary procedure.

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Pairs and Proxies

P is for Pairs and Proxies, both ways of ensuring that individual members of Parliament can be absent without affecting the outcome of any vote, and while P is not for substitutes, since these can be aimed at achieving a similar end, we might as well deal with them here too. The current interest in… Continue reading Pairs and Proxies

Notice (and Notice of Motion)

The requirement to give advance notice of any motion other than very narrowly procedural ones is now one of the fundamental principles of parliamentary business in both Houses. It’s a basic requirement these days for just about any action of significance in just about any formal process. But it seems to have been relatively late… Continue reading Notice (and Notice of Motion)

Motions

M is for Motions, the key devices by which anything is initiated in either House of Parliament. They are to be distinguished from Questions, the form in which the Speaker puts proposals to the House for decision. These days the two are always essentially the same. But in earlier times the relationship between them has been rather more complicated.

Leader of the House of Commons

L is for Leader of the House of Commons, the minister in charge of Commons business on behalf of the government, and a position which used to be virtually synonymous with the premiership. The most frequently quoted description of the role of Leader of the House of Commons seems still to be Gladstone’s, in an… Continue reading Leader of the House of Commons

Kangaroo closure

K is for ‘Kangaroo closure’, a procedure invented in 1909 in the context of a bitter parliamentary battle over the Liberal government’s budget proposals. It then attracted execration; these days, known as the selection of amendments, its association with efforts to limit the opportunities for debate has been largely forgotten. Lord Robert Cecil, the conservative… Continue reading Kangaroo closure