Motion to Agree
That the 4th Report from the Select Committee, Explanatory statements on amendments; Oath taking; Topical oral questions and topical questions for short debate (HL Paper 135), be agreed to.
My Lords, the report proposes three changes to the House procedures that are designed to assist Members and the House. The first proposal introduces a procedure to allow Members to add explanatory statements to amendments to assist the House in consideration of a Bill. Explanatory statements would be allowed in Committee, on Report and at Third Reading, and should be drafted within the limit of 50 words. Further details on how explanatory statements would work are set out in the report. If agreed, this would be introduced for a trial period for selected Bills. After the trial, the committee would evaluate the result of the pilot and make a recommendation to the House on whether explanatory statements on amendments should be extended to all Bills.
Next, we make two proposals relating to arrangements for oath taking in response to concerns raised by Members. The first proposal would move oath taking on the opening day of debate on the Queen’s Speech in a new Parliament—that is, on the afternoon of the day of the Speech itself—so that it takes place at the end of business rather than at the start. This would avoid the delay to the start of business due to oath taking, which in June 2017 took 15 minutes. The proposal relates only to the day of the Queen’s Speech, and on subsequent sitting days the current arrangements would continue as usual.
Secondly, we propose that, after officeholders and Front-Bench Members have taken the oath, precedence is given to Members with a disability or impaired mobility. There would also be an expectation that, if there is a long queue, other Members will make way.
Finally, the report proposes new guidance on the criteria for assessing topicality for the topical Oral Questions ballot, and amends the criteria for Topical Questions for Short Debate so the two are aligned. The proposed new guidance is set out in the report. I hope noble Lords will support these proposed changes. I beg to move.
My Lords, I support the Motion and think this is a very good report. I was at the meeting that took place and supported all the recommendations. I also commend the Senior Deputy Speaker for the way in which he conducted the meeting and for his sympathetic consideration of all the points raised.
He’ll go far.
Given that surprise, I commend the Motion to the House.