Types of report
Select committees, as creatures of the House, make their reports to the House and through the House to the world at large.
All committees have power to make interim reports to the House to inform it of some of the committee’s conclusions or of the progress of its investigations on the matter before it.
The power has been used to give the public an indication of the substantial amendments to a bill before it which the committee had provisionally resolved upon. An interim report has also been presented as an opportunity for one last round of consultations with interested groups to canvass the acceptability of the committee’s proposals.
A committee has used an interim report as a means of calling for submissions on an inquiry that it had initiated and giving details about how it proposed to progress the inquiry.
When a committee makes an interim report, in principle, all prior proceedings of the committee relevant to the report that are not already publicly available become available on the presentation of the report,
though the committee may resolve to withhold some or all of them.
All committees may make special reports to the House. Special reports do not deal with the substantive issues before the committee but relate to requesting authority from the House to do something, seeking of guidance on a procedural issue, or merely informing the House of a matter that has arisen connected with the committee’s proceedings.
A committee has used a special report: to inform the House that it was unable to elect a deputy chairperson;
to acknowledge that the procedure for adopting a previous report had been flawed as not all members had seen a proposed amendment;
to announce that it had initiated a major inquiry;
and to correct a factual error contained in a previous report that it had presented.
Since, unlike interim reports, special reports are not used to convey a committee’s conclusions on the substance of the matter before a committee there is no presumption that all prior proceedings of the committee become publicly available with the report, though those proceedings of the committee directly relevant to the adoption of the special report do become available. Again, however, a committee can resolve to withhold details of its proceedings that would otherwise become available.
The committee presents its conclusions to the House in a final report on the bill or other matter which is the subject of the report. This does not mean that the committee will always be able to reach firm conclusions on the substantive issues before it. Indeed, the final report may record the committee’s inability to do so.
A committee may use its power to report for the purpose of conveying information to the House (such as the evidence it has heard) rather than to present conclusions as such. When a committee presents a final report on a bill or matter, that bill or matter is no longer in the committee’s hands and it cannot deal further with it.
If the matter fell within the committee’s general subject area terms of reference it could initiate a new inquiry.
Not every matter referred to a committee or every inquiry initiated by it will result in a final report. A bill or other matter referred by the House that has not been reported lapses at the end of a Parliament, though it may be reinstated. Any inquiry initiated by the committee that is uncompleted at the end of a Parliament also lapses, though it too may be readopted as an inquiry by the committee in the new Parliament. Proceedings on a bill or other matter that has lapsed in this way (including any draft report) remain confidential for the first nine sitting days of the new Parliament to give the House and the committee time to consider whether they wish to reinstate or readopt such business.
Whether they do reinstate or readopt it is a matter for the newly constituted House and committee to decide. Also, a committee may simply discontinue an inquiry it has initiated, whether from lack of interest in it or for any other reason.
Finally, the committee may fail to present a report within an applicable time limit on a bill. In these circumstances the bill is automatically withdrawn from the committee and returned to the House.
Some committees have developed a practice of presenting periodic final reports of a miscellaneous nature called “activities reports”. The Regulations Review Committee, for instance, presents an annual activities report. In these reports the committee describes the range of its activities in the period dealt with by the report. Many of the matters referred to are dealt with in more detail in other more specific reports that have already been presented to the House. An activities report can also assume some of the characteristics of an interim report, telling the House of the work in progress before the committee. Activities reports deal with many issues addressed by committees that may not warrant particular reports of their own. They enable the numerous issues dealt with by a committee over a period to be conveyed to the House in a convenient form.
Time limits for reporting
Time for report fixed
If a time has been fixed for the presentation of the final report on a bill or other item of business, that report must be presented by the select committee on or before the day so fixed.
(The presentation of interim, special and activities reports is always optional.) A time may be fixed for a final report by the Standing Orders, by the House, by the Business Committee (for extensions of time only) or, exceptionally, by statute. A select committee cannot impose a binding time limit on itself, though it may adopt a work programme for a particular bill or item of business under which it tries to work to a timetable.
The Standing Orders prescribe the time for select committees to report on bills and in respect of a range of financial business.
Six months is the standard reporting time prescribed for all bills referred to select committees. They must be finally reported to the House within this time.
But, the House, on referring a bill to a select committee may, and often does, vary this standard time by requiring the committee to report the bill within a shorter (or, exceptionally, longer) time-frame.
The Standing Orders prescribe standard reporting times for select committees on their estimates examinations (two months from the Budget),
and on their financial reviews of departments and offices of Parliament (within one week of the first sitting day in each year),
and on Crown entities, State enterprises and other public organisations (six months in each case).
The Finance and Expenditure Committee has specific reporting time obligations in respect of some of the financial business transacted by it: examination of the Budget policy statement (40 working days),
the fiscal strategy report and the economic and fiscal update (two months from the Budget),
and the annual financial statements of the Government (within one week of the first sitting day in each year).
A committee to which has been referred a notice of a motion for the approval of a regulation pursuant to a statute (an affirmative resolution) must report on that notice of motion no later than 28 days after the notice was lodged.
It is always open to the House, in referring a matter to a committee, to fix a date by which the committee must report on it to the House. Exceptionally, statute may do this. In the case of the statutory select committee review of the MMP election system, the committee was required to report by 1 June 2002.
The statutory review by a select committee of the legislation implementing New Zealand’s obligations under a United Nations Security Council resolution on terrorism had to be reported on by 1 December 2005.
Where business that had lapsed is reinstated, that business is resumed at the same stage that it had reached in the old Parliament. However, if that business is subject to a reporting time limit, that time does not run between the lapse of the business and the date on which it is reinstated.
Failure to report within time fixed
A committee that fails to report within any time fixed for presentation of its final report is immediately in breach of its obligation to the House. The members of the committee can be ordered by the House to discharge their obligation to report, with the threat that if they fail to do so they will be in contempt of the House.
In the case of a bill, failure to present a report in time also means that the committee’s task is at an end. The bill is automatically discharged from further consideration by the committee and is set down for its next stage in the House.
In the case of other business with a time limit for reporting which a committee fails to meet, the committee’s obligation is not automatically discharged.
If the House in referring the matter has made provision for what is to occur if a committee has not reported, that provision applies. In absence of such a provision and in the absence of the House regularising the position by granting an extension, the Speaker determines when the committee must report and what the consequences are of its failure to do so.
The Speaker has ordered a committee which failed to report in due time on a financial review to report later in the week, failing which its task of review would be at an end and no report would be made at all.
Extensions to reporting time
The House may, on motion with notice or by leave, extend any time fixed for reporting by the Standing Orders or in a previous order of the House. The House frequently grants extensions to reporting times on bills including general extensions for bills held over from a previous Parliament.
It has also granted extensions to select committees for the financial reviews they were carrying out,
and to the Finance and Expenditure Committee in respect of financial business under consideration by it.
In respect of bills, the Business Committee may extend (but not reduce) the time for a committee to report.
About one-fifth of all bills have their reporting times extended, often more than once, and the Business Committee is the most common means of effecting the extension. Select committees write directly to the Business Committee seeking an extension. The Business Committee will not grant an extension without hearing the views of the member in charge of the bill. These are given either in the select committee’s letter or by way of a separate letter from the member in charge and considered by the Business Committee at the same time as the select committee’s application for an extension. If the committee and the member are in agreement about an extension, the Business Committee will invariably grant it, though it may alter the length of the requested extension by increasing or decreasing it. If they disagree, the Business Committee will make its own judgment.
In practice, suggestions for extensions to the reporting time for any other business before a select committee will be discussed at the Business Committee before being raised in the House.
Adoption of report
When the committee has heard all the evidence on the bill or other matter which it is prepared to hear, it begins the process of deciding upon its report to the House. The first stage in determining on the committee’s report is known as the consideration stage. At this point the committee listens to comment from the committee’s departmental or other advisers on the submissions heard by the committee. Papers and analysis may be called for by the committee from its staff and advisers. At the consideration stage (which may involve several meetings) the committee in a relatively informal manner discusses and reconsiders the details of the evidence and reports it has received. It does not take binding decisions as to the form of the report (though it may have a draft report before it), thus giving members an opportunity to discuss the matters among themselves and with colleagues. This stage in the formation and adoption of the committee’s report also gives the committee the opportunity to invite comment on its provisional findings from persons who may be commented on adversely in the finalised report.
Either as part of the consideration phase or arising from it, a draft report will be prepared for the committee to consider. In the case of a bill, this will be a draft of the select committee’s commentary. The draft may be prepared by the chairperson or by any member of the committee, but it is usually prepared by the staff of the committee. It has the status of a draft report because it is prepared under the instructions of the committee and not merely on the personal initiative of a member of the committee or a member of staff. As such it is strictly confidential to the committee until the committee reports to the House,
when all the committee’s proceedings (except secret evidence) will become publicly available. The disclosure of a draft report is a serious breach of privilege.
A draft report may be disclosed by the committee or by a member of the committee to another member of Parliament or to the Clerk and other officers of the House in the course of their duties.
The committee may also make it available to any person for the purpose of assisting the committee in its work by providing comment on the draft.
A draft report has been referred for academic peer review before being presented to the House.
If a committee provisionally determines to include in a report any findings that may seriously damage the reputation of a person to be named in the report, it must, as soon as is practicable, acquaint that person with the provisional findings and give him or her a reasonable opportunity to make a response to the committee on them.
That response can be made orally or in writing or both, as the committee determines. The committee is then obliged to take the response into consideration in making its report to the House.
It should be axiomatic that if a committee reaches the stage of considering making an adverse finding against someone, it will have heard from that person (or have invited that person to appear before it) earlier in its proceedings as a witness. If it has not, an adverse finding of any description can hardly be justified at all. It is also quite likely that an allegation may have been made against that person earlier in the committee’s inquiries and the person given an opportunity to respond to it then. This is a separate process from considering whether to make an adverse finding against a person in the committee’s report. The fact that a response may have been invited at an earlier stage of proceedings does not remove the obligation to give the person concerned an opportunity to comment before making an adverse finding in the report.
The obligation to refer draft adverse findings for comment lies with the committee. But the chairperson has the interpretative responsibility of identifying findings that may be adverse and in respect of which the obligation may arise. Not all comments in a report which someone may consider objectionable will require to be referred for comment. In particular, the procedure is not an opportunity for a second comment on an issue just because a witness might disagree with the committee’s view of it. It is a rule concerned solely with reputation. Bodies which are under recognised accountability obligations to Parliament, such as departments, Crown entities and State enterprises are in practice subject to a higher threshold test for adverse findings. The accountability relationships with these bodies means that they may be subject to select committee criticism or rebuke without necessarily being afforded an opportunity to comment on a draft report. Only if the criticism in respect of these organisations was of a particularly damning nature in respect of an identified individual would a committee feel obliged to acquaint them with it, though it may do so as a matter of discretion, rather than of obligation. A committee may always go further than the Standing Orders require and circulate its draft report for review as to its accuracy, even though it is not obliged to do so.
The committee must allow a reasonable opportunity for comment, though precisely how long it does allow is a matter for it. Generally one week (a committee’s normal meeting interval) is the norm. But, if a committee is under a particular time constraint in reporting, a shorter response time will be necessary in that case. Any response received by a committee in these circumstances is strictly confidential to the committee until it reports to the House.
The committee should make this clear to any person who is invited to make a response to it.
Having received comment on a draft adverse finding, the committee must take that comment into account in framing its report.
At the highest level a comment on an adverse finding may cause the committee to change its mind entirely about its provisional conclusion and omit the finding or alter it to remove any adverse reflection. It may, on the other hand, not change the committee’s mind at all or at least not materially. While the committee is obliged to take account of the comment in response, it is not obliged to reflect that comment in its report or even to refer to the fact that it sought it. However, it is usual for a committee report that contains findings seriously affecting a person’s reputation to record the fact that that person’s comment was sought, if only to put on record that the committee had carried out its obligation to do so. A committee may build the comment it receives into the text of its report if it sees fit, commenting on it in turn. Committees have also published the comments they have received as an annex to their reports.
A committee’s obligation to permit a response to adverse findings also applies where such findings are confined to minority views included in its report. In this case too it must take such a response into account in finalising the report.
“Deliberation” is the point at which the committee goes through the bill or draft report before it and takes definite decisions by resolution or by leave in respect of these.
Deliberation must be specifically listed on the notice of meeting distributed to members as an item of business to be transacted, otherwise the committee can proceed to deliberate only by leave. Deliberation must take place before any report (interim, special or final) can be presented to the House. As with consideration, deliberation varies in the time it takes, though it is usually much shorter than consideration, often being confined to the formal endorsement of positions worked out during consideration. Deliberation is also confidential until the committee reports to the House.
While generally members of Parliament who are not members of the committee have a right to remain present during any part of a committee’s proceedings, including deliberation, they must withdraw when the Privileges Committee goes into its deliberation phase unless that committee, by leave, permits them to stay.
It is obviously desirable that the members participating in deliberation (and consideration) are the same members who listened to the witnesses giving evidence, but there is nothing to prevent members who have been absent from the hearings from informing themselves of the evidence placed before the committee and participating in deliberation.
In the case of deliberation on a bill, the committee must consider the bill part by part and decide whether to recommend that the parts should remain part of the bill, with or without any amendments. Either before or after doing this, it considers the draft narrative commentary that will form part of its report on the bill and decides what the final form of the commentary will be. In the case of deliberation on an inquiry the committee will consider the draft report or successive draft reports before agreeing on a final report.
Minority or differing views
There is only one report presented to the House from a committee on each occasion it reports. That is the one adopted as the committee’s report by a majority of the committee if need be. There is no “minority report”.
But committees can in their reports indicate the differing views of the members of the committee.
These are often referred to as minority views, but they need not be minority views. There may indeed not be a majority/minority split on the committee at all; it may be equally divided on an issue. Thus a committee’s report has consisted solely of a commentary setting out matters relating to consideration of the bill by the committee and then the respective parties’ views. The committee itself was unable to agree on any amendments to the bill.
The dissenting views of members were not at first recognised in select committee reports and for them to be revealed was looked upon as somewhat unusual, not to say improper.
Summaries of minority or differing views are now commonplace in select committee reports. They are usually presented as the differing views of the parties represented on the committee (even when a party only has one member on the committee), but they may be presented as the views of individual members.
No member of the committee has the right to have differing views represented in the committee’s report; the decision whether to do so is one for the committee to make.
If the committee does decide to include differing views in its report, it cannot rewrite those views to express them in a way acceptable to a majority of the committee. That would misrepresent those views. Nevertheless, if a minority or a differing view is too objectionable or too lengthy, a majority of the committee might refuse to accept it for inclusion in the report altogether unless the minority or differing members agree to some rewriting of it. There can then be a trade-off.
Also, minority or differing contributions to a committee’s report, like every other contribution, must be relevant to the subject of the report and must be free of unparliamentary language. In either of these cases the chairperson rules whether the contribution is wholly in order.
For a member to release publicly a draft of a minority view intended to be presented to the committee for its consideration would prejudice the proper functioning of the committee process, and the Speaker has indicated that this could be treated as a contempt. Such a draft should be conveyed to the committee first.
Amendments to bills are displayed in the reprinted bill as “unanimous” or “majority” once the bill has been reported to the House. This is done to facilitate a House process – majority amendments must be separately endorsed by the House on the second reading of the bill. They are not a means for committees to express the differing views of their members. That should be done in the committee’s narrative commentary on the bill.
Adoption of report
At the conclusion of deliberation the chairperson puts the question to the committee that the report be adopted.
Once the committee has adopted a report it must be presented to the House.
An original copy of the report is prepared (if it does not already exist) incorporating any final textual amendments agreed to by the committee. This copy may be in printed or manuscript form or partly one and partly the other. It is signed by the chairperson
to authenticate that the report is as adopted by the committee. In the chairperson’s absence it may be signed by the deputy chairperson or another member of the committee who has been authorised by the committee to do so.
A committee can decide to report on more than one matter in the same report.
This course is often adopted with closely related subjects, such as with a bill and a supplementary order paper or petitions on the bill, which have been referred to the committee. It is also done with petitions of a similar nature.
Although the hearing of evidence on a matter is of critical importance in helping to shape a committee’s conclusions, the report to the House embodies the opinions and policies of the members of the committee. It may or may not accord with the weight of the evidence received. (There is in any case no presumption that any decision will necessarily accord with the sheer weight of numbers of submissions received on it.
) Matters, particularly legislation, are considered by committees as part of a wider political programme. Parliamentary decisions are accordingly taken in this wider context. It is the case too that committees consist of only a small proportion of the House’s membership and cannot themselves take final decisions on behalf of the House. It would not be reasonable for a committee to act as if it could. For these reasons, the committee’s report may diverge from the preponderance of opinion expressed to it.
A report may be presented in the English language or the Māori language. A report presented in one language may be translated, under the Speaker’s direction, into another language.
A select committee’s report has been translated into Samoan, for example.
In 2004, for the first time, a select committee presented a bilingual report – that is, a report which had been deliberated on and adopted by the committee in both official languages.
In the case of a bilingual report both versions of the report are equally authoritative; one is not a translation of the other, regardless of the possible predominance of one of the languages in the preparation of the report as the committee’s actual working language. In the case of an authorised translation of a committee’s report, the authoritative version of the report is that in the original language.
Confidentiality of report
The report adopted by a committee is confidential to the committee until it is presented to the House in the same way as are the private proceedings of a committee and a draft report.
(See Chapter 23 for proceedings that are confidential.) Unauthorised disclosure of a copy of a report before its presentation may be treated as a contempt.
Disclosure by the committee or by a member of the committee of the report to another member or to the Clerk or an officer of the House in the course of their duties, is authorised.
This permits discussion of the likely outcome of a committee inquiry to be held in caucus and the necessary printing arrangements for the report to be put in train before it is formally presented.
Effect of adoption of report
Except where a committee is expressly making an interim report or a special report, once the committee has directed the chairperson to report to the House it has performed its ultimate function in respect of the bill or matter before it and cannot afterwards reconsider the report. Events after that point must take their course. In respect of committees set up to consider one matter only, such as a special committee on a bill or a special committee set up to report on a particular topic, the committee ceases to exist as a committee when the House receives the report, and if the House wishes to give the committee further work to do it must first revive it. For permanent committees the adoption and presentation of a final report does not dissolve the committee as such, but it does take the particular matter which was the subject of the report out of the committee’s hands.
(Though a committee may utilise its inherent power to initiate an inquiry to follow up on matters arising out of its consideration of the bill or other matter which was the subject of the report.
Presentation of report
When a report has been adopted it must be presented to the House within a reasonable time. The House may order a report to be presented if the chairperson does not act with despatch in the matter.
But the chairperson is justified in holding back a report for a few days so that the necessary arrangements can be made to have it in print in time for its presentation and so that an adequate check can be made as to its accuracy. It was unreasonable when a chairperson delayed for three months in presenting a report, but a delay of a week in presenting a report is quite acceptable.
A report is presented to the House by the original copy being delivered to the Clerk by the chairperson. This may be effected on any working day but no later than 1 pm on a day on which the House sits.
(If the House sits on a non-working day – a Saturday – no report may be presented.) A list of all select committee reports presented since the House last sat is read out to the House by the Clerk at the time for the announcement of the presentation of reports of select committees (part of the first item of business each day).
Reports from the Intelligence and Security Committee on bills and other matters referred to it by the House are presented in the same way as a report from a select committee. (Reports from the Intelligence and Security Committee on any of its other statutory functions are presented as papers in the same way as reports from any other non-parliamentary body.)
Committees may hold press conferences following a report’s presentation to give greater publicity to their findings. Such press conferences are not formal proceedings of the committee and are not protected by absolute privilege.
Public comments made by individual members of the committee (even the chairperson) on a report are not protected by absolute privilege either.
Custody of select committee documents
When a select committee makes a final report to the House, its minutes, evidence and other documents relating to the subject of the report come into the possession of the Clerk of the House, who is the custodian of all records of the House and its select committees.
Unless the House makes an order instructing the committee to withhold certain evidence, all select committee documents must be handed to the Clerk. They can be seen by any member, subject to any express direction by the House to the contrary.
Secret evidence must also be delivered into the custody of the Clerk but is not available for perusal even by members unless the House expressly authorises disclosure.
While it is open to the House to remove the protection of secrecy that has been conferred on evidence by a committee, this will not be done lightly. As has been said by a committee of the Australian House of Representatives when considering a petition for the disclosure of confidential evidence:
When confidentiality is requested and then given, and even more so when it is promised in advance and thus becomes a pre-condition for receiving information, a “contract” has been entered into between a committee and the provider of the information. Such a contract is not enforceable legally. The committee holds to the view that the House has a strong moral obligation to protect such a contract.
Apart from secret evidence, which is automatically protected from release even after the committee reports, the House may itself order that evidence given to one of its committees not be released by the Clerk.
Where a select committee has retained evidence containing serious allegations against a person that it did not consider relevant to its proceedings or evidence that creates an unjustifiable risk of harm to a person, it is under an obligation to consider seeking an order from the House giving ongoing confidentiality to the evidence.
The House may subsequently lift any continuing confidentiality order by rescinding it if the conditions that led it to make the order no longer obtain.
In the case of an interim report or a special report, the committee continues to retain custody of all select committee documents relating to the bill or inquiry, but any confidentiality applying up to that time to matters dealt with in the report is automatically lifted unless the committee decides to retain it.
Where business before a select committee lapses at the end of a Parliament, the Clerk maintains custody of the records relating to that business on behalf of the new Parliament’s committee. These remain confidential for the first nine sitting days of the new Parliament. If not readopted as business by the new committee they then become publicly accessible.
Documents in the custody of the Clerk as an officer of the House belong to the House of Representatives and are not official information. Nevertheless, it is the practice for virtually unrestricted access to be granted to such documents.
A set of documents relating to each inquiry carried out by a select committee is lodged in the Parliamentary Library for this purpose.
Responses to recommendations
The Government has been required to respond to recommendations in select committee reports on petitions since 1967. A general requirement for the Government to respond to recommendations addressed to it in select committee reports was introduced in 1986.
This requirement for a Government response applies in respect of reports made by committees on petitions, and in the discharge of their inquiry function (whether self-initiated or referred), including treaty examinations. It does not apply on bills, questions of privilege or the estimates and financial review reports made under the Standing Orders.
The Government is required to respond formally to any recommendation addressed to it within 90 days of the report having been presented.
Where the 90 days expire on a non-working day, the response may be presented on the next working day. (While the Government must respond to the House within this period, whether it makes any earlier policy announcements related to the recommendations in the committee’s report is a matter for it.) Where consideration of a report is outstanding at the end of a Parliament any obligation to respond lapses. However, if that report is reinstated in the new Parliament the obligation to respond is also reinstated. The 90-day period for a response starts to run again on the day of reinstatement.
Where a select committee report contains recommendations addressed to the Government, the Office of the Clerk sends a copy of the report to the Cabinet Office. The Cabinet Office asks the appropriate Minister to report on the recommendations and prepare a response. If the select committee’s report suggests action that would require the Government to make a policy decision, the issue must be referred to the appropriate Cabinet Committee for decision in the normal way for any policy submission. Once any policy matters are finalised, the proposed response is submitted to the Cabinet Legislation Committee and then Cabinet for final approval.
The response takes the form of a paper presented to the House by the Minister.
Responses are ordered to be published and are compiled in a parliamentary paper. There is no reason why the Government cannot make more than one response to the same report, especially where the issues are complex. In these circumstances the Government may, within the 90-day period, present what is effectively an interim response and follow up with a detailed response when it has considered the issue thoroughly. Thus the report of a working party set up to consider recommendations from the Regulations Review Committee on deemed regulations was embodied into a further response from the Government to the report.
While the Government’s response to recommendations contained in a select committee report is intended to facilitate any debate on the report that is held by the House, the fact that the House does debate the report before a response is received does not obviate the obligation to present a response in due course.
Although not subject to the Standing Order, the Speaker has presented a response to a select committee recommendation in respect of an office for which the Speaker was responsible – the Office of the Clerk.
Committees have, occasionally, when dissatisfied with a Government response or with the time that it has taken the Government to respond, conducted a further inquiry into the response itself and reported to the House on it.
Consideration of select committee reports
Reports from select committees are set down for consideration as prescribed by the Standing Orders. Any report presented will appear on the order paper for the next sitting day. In the case of a report presented up to 1 pm on a sitting day this will be on the order paper for the following sitting day.
In the case of final reports on bills, the bill is set down as an order of the day (Government, private and local or Member’s, as the case may be) for its second reading on the third sitting day following presentation.
The committee’s report is considered when the House holds the second reading debate on the bill. In the case of a bill introduced before the end of the forty-sixth Parliament (October 1999) and which has (because of subsequent changes in procedure) already had a second reading when it is reported back from a select committee, the bill is set down for consideration of the report on the bill rather than for second reading.
Interim or special reports on bills are set down as orders of the day for consideration.
A report from the Privileges Committee is set down for consideration as part of the next sitting day’s general business.
Reports on briefings, inquiries, international treaty examinations and reports from the Regulations Review Committee (whether, in each case, a final, interim or special report), are set down for consideration as a Members’ order of the day on the next sitting day.
Where a report is on a notice of motion (the affirmative resolution procedure), the report is set down for consideration along with the notice of motion (which will usually be a Government order of the day).
Reports on estimates, financial reviews and other financial business are considered when those debates are held.
In the case of reports on petitions the Business Committee has the power to direct that the report be set down for consideration as a Member’s order of the day.
Reports on bills, questions of privilege, estimates, financial review and other financial business are debated in due course. But in practice, reports on briefings, inquiries, treaty examinations and petitions are unlikely to be the subject of a specific debate devoted to them. Consideration of reports of select committees on briefings, inquiries and treaty examinations do not have a high priority even as Members’ orders of the day since they come after Members’ bills on the order paper.
This means that they are most unlikely to be reached even on days on which Members’ orders of the day have priority over Government orders of the day.
In the case of a report that does not require a Government response, consideration of the report is removed from the order paper 15 sitting days after it has been set down (or sooner if it is considered by the House earlier than this). A report that does require a response is removed 15 sitting days after the response is presented. In either case the order of the day for the consideration of the report is discharged when the period has elapsed.
If orders of the day for consideration of select committee reports are reached, the House works through them as they stand on the order paper. As each order is reached the chairperson or, in the chairperson’s absence, the deputy chairperson or some other member of the committee moves a motion to take note of the report.
If, when an order is reached, neither the chairperson nor any member of the committee is present, the order is discharged and the House proceeds to the next order.
In any debate on the consideration of the report on a bill, up to 12 members may speak, each for a maximum of 10 minutes. On other debates there is no prescribed limit to the number of speeches.