This petition was submitted during the 2015–2017 Conservative government
Petition Reform the rules on filibustering or 'talking a bill to death'.
Philip Davies MP spoke for 90 minutes during a debate on free hospital parking for carers, wasting time so a vote could not take place and the Bill be blocked.
Tenant rights have also been affected in this manner.
Such a tactic is archaic, repugnant, and has no place in a modern parliament.
Lowering the number of MPs needed to win a vote on a motion for closure, or limiting the length of speeches in certain sessions, would be options for reform worth considering.
This petition is closed This petition ran for 6 months
This response was given on 10 December 2015
Procedure within the Chamber is a matter for the House of Commons authorities and the Speaker or Deputy Speaker chairing the debate.
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The House has established rules to protect debate from unnecessarily long speeches and it is for the Chair of the debate to give effect to these rules if they consider that it is necessary.
There is already an important rule of the House to protect debate from unnecessarily long speeches which might be described as filibustering. Standing Order No. 42 allows the Speaker to direct a Member to discontinue his speech if that Member 'persists in irrelevance, or tedious repetition either of his own arguments or of the arguments used by other members in debate'. Awareness of this rule, even if it seldom has to be enforced, is a key factor in forcing Members to ensure that their speeches are to the point. Speeches may be lengthy, so long as they are relevant. Often the apparent length of a speech can be misleading, because a Member will be taking a great number of interventions from other Members. There is a procedure, known as ‘the closure’ for Members to use in cases where there is a risk of business before the House being ‘talked out’: this is used where the Speaker or Deputy Speaker is satisfied that there has been sufficient time for all points of view to have been expressed in the debate and where 100 Members vote in favour of ‘closing’ the debate.
The Procedure Committee in the 2010-15 Parliament considered the procedures of the House on Private Members' Bills and published a report on the matter in September 2013, to which the Government responded. In March 2014 the Committee produced a further report in light of the Government's response. The central recommendation of this report was that it should be possible to timetable or programme Private Members' Bills. The previous administration did not respond to the report before the General Election. It is understood that the Procedure Committee in this Parliament plans to consider the matter further.
Leader of the House
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MPs look into private Members’ bills procedures
We thought you would like to know about a select committee inquiry on an issue closely related to this petition.
The Procedure Committee is looking into the rules on how the House of Commons deals with draft laws suggested by backbench MPs (known as “private Members’ bills”).
At 2.45pm on Wednesday 6 January, the Committee will be asking a panel of journalists for their views. The panel will be:
Mark D’Arcy, Parliamentary Correspondent, BBC News
Isabel Hardman, Assistant Editor, The Spectator
Michael White, Associate Editor, The Guardian
You can watch the session online at www.parliamentlive.tv
A transcript will be published a few days after the session on the Procedure Committee’s website: http://www.parliament.uk/proccom
You can follow the Procedure Committee on Twitter @CommonsProcCom
Procedure Committee inviting views on private Members’ bills
As explained in a previous e-mail, the Procedure Committee is looking into the rules on how the House of Commons deals with draft laws suggested by backbench MPs (known as “private Members’ bills”).
The Committee is examining how the process for passing these bills works at the moment and how it could be changed. This follows the review of the system undertaken by the Committee in the last Parliament and the experience of the procedure so far in the new Parliament, including the ‘filibustering’ criticised in e-petition 111441, which you signed.
If you are interested in learning more, you can read more information about the inquiry here:
You can follow the Procedure Committee on Twitter @CommonsProcCom
MPs debate filibustering
On 13 April, MPs debated the procedure for debating and voting on Private Members’ Bills, which included discussion about filibustering. This debate was scheduled following an application from Jeff Smith MP.
You can watch the debate here: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/e3469e6a-cf30-4b4a-b0a4-808b82ec9f6e?in=09:30:00
You can read the transcript here: https://hansard.digiminster.com/commons/2016-04-13/debates/16041334000001/PrivateMembers%E2%80%99Bills
You can follow the House of Commons on Twitter: @HouseofCommons
There are other ways you can get involved in the work of the UK Parliament.
Find out how to contact your MP or a Lord, contribute to a Parliamentary Committee, and search for free Parliament events taking place in your local area here: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/
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You can find out more about the work of the Petitions Committee on its website here: www.parliament.uk/petitions-committee
You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @hocpetitions
Procedure Committee refers to petition and makes recommendations about filibustering
On 18 April, the House of Commons Procedure Committee published a report on Private Members’ Bills, which makes reference to this petition.
The report states that tactics such as talking out a Bill [filibustering] “cause confusion and frustration to members of the public observing such debates and expecting reasoned discussion on matters important to them.”
The Committee recommends a change to the Standing Orders [the rules] to guarantee a vote on second reading on the first seven bills of a session [a Parliamentary year]. This change would give the Speaker the authority to impose time limits on speeches if necessary to enable this to happen.
Any such change is envisaged only for Second Reading, when the general principles behind a Bill are discussed, and not for all stages of a Bill’s progress. As Committee Chair Charles Walker stated when introducing the report in the House of Commons, the Committee is “not recommending a guaranteed vote on Report [stage of the bill]. What these Bills need is a bit of space on Second Reading to get approved at that stage so that negotiations can take place with the Government before the Bills go into Committee and there is a chance of some output.”
This proposal is part of a wider package of recommendations to the Government, including giving the Backbench Business Committee a role in assessing bids from Back-Bench MPs for some Bills in order to encourage more engaged debate.
The Government will respond to the Procedure Committee's report and recommendations. We will let you know when this happens.
You can read the full Procedure Committee report here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmselect/cmproced/684/684.pdf
You can read the debate on the Committee’s findings here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-04-18/debates/16041810000002/PrivateMembers%E2%80%99Bills
You can watch MPs debate the Committee’s report on Parliament TV: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/9ff57b89-d23c-44a7-85a3-5a9872c0ed31?in=16:02:20
You can find out more about the different stages of a bill on the Parliament website: http://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/passage-bill/
The Procedure Committee is a group of cross-party MPs which considers the practice and procedure of the House of Commons in the conduct of public business. You can find out more about the work of the Procedure Committee on its website: http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/procedure-committee/
You can follow the Procedure Committee on Twitter: @CommonsProcCom
This email has been sent by the House of Commons Petitions Committee. You can find out more about the work of the Petitions Committee on its website here: www.parliament.uk/petitions-committee
You can follow the Petitions Committee on Twitter: @HoCpetitions