Committee of the Whole House and Beyond


  • What is committee of the whole House (CWH)?
  • The role of officials
  • Pitfalls, pratfalls, and perils
    • Limits on what CWH can do
    • Amendments – admissibility, order of consideration, fiscal implications
    • Advising your Minister
    • Behaviour of officials in the Chamber

What is the committee of the whole House?

  • A creature of the House
    • Powers and functions derived from the House
    • Reports to the House
  • Detailed consideration of bill (and amendments)
  • Chaired by Deputy Speaker or Assistant Speaker
  • Minister at the Table


  • Considers only matters referred by House
  • But can vary an instruction by unanimous agreement
  • Dealing with disorder
  • Cannot adjourn itself
  • Cannot refer a matter to a select committee

The chairperson

  • Sole judge of matters arising
    • Relevance of debate
    • Giving the call to speak
    • Admissibility of amendments
    • Termination of speeches
    • Acceptance of closure
    • Maintenance of order
  • Calling the Speaker to rule

Instructions to committee of the whole House

  • To consider a matter beyond its authority
    • Amendments outside the scope of a bill
    • To consider the bill in a certain way
  • Only one instruction per member'
  • Generally debatable
  • Can be varied by leave in CWH

Considering bills in CWH

  • Part by Part (the default provision)
  • 5 minute speeches
  • Closure of debate
  • Voting on amendments
    • Members’ amendments
    • Minister’s amendments
  • Schedules
  • Preliminary clauses
  • Dividing a bill
  • Report to House


  • Supplementary Order Papers and other amendments
  • Relevance of amendments
    • Outside the scope
    • Inconsistent with previous decision
    • Amendments to other Acts
    • Fiscal implications
  • Amendments of member in charge of bill
  • Government amendments

Amendments with fiscal implications

  • Amendments with fiscal implications
  • Appropriate advisers must be available for CWH stage
  • 24-hour rule (SO 322)
    • Chairperson rules out of order
    • Chairperson acts on advice
    • Lower test of fiscal impact
  • Financial veto (SOs 318 – 321)
    • May be debated
    • No question put

Third reading and Royal assent

  • Bill reprinted showing CWH amendments
  • Minister’s responsibility to have available for third reading
  • Timing of assent
    • Order in which passed
    • Size and complexity
    • Availability of signatories
  • Availability of statute copies

Officials in the Chamber

  • Where to sit
  • Dress standards
  • The floor of the House
  • Advising the Minister
  • Demeanour

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