Timetables for the consideration of a Bill

29. An important consideration when planning committee work programmes and setting agendas for meetings is the overall timetable for the consideration of the stages of Bills.

30. The Bureau will normally agree a timetable for completion of the Stages of a Bill taking into account the views of the conveners of the relevant committees. It is also possible, by Bureau motion, for the Parliament to agree the timetable for completion of the Stages of a Bill.

31. This can be particularly important at Stage 1 for conveners of secondary committees and the Delegated Powers and Law Reform and Finance Committees which report to the lead committee. Conveners will wish to ensure that sufficient time is available for other committees to be thorough in their consideration at Stage 1 and to report to the lead committee in time for their views to be of value in informing the lead committee’s report to the Parliament.

32. Conveners may wish to make written representations to the Bureau. If necessary, arrangements can be made for the conveners to attend a Bureau meeting. This can be arranged by the committee clerks.

33. It is for conveners to decide whether they wish to discuss timetabling issues with their members before making their views known to the Bureau. However, if there has been no discussion, a convener should make it clear that the views expressed are his or her own and not those of the committee.

34. Where a timescale is agreed for completion of either Stage 1 or Stage 2, it is, of course, possible to go back to the Bureau to seek additional time should that prove necessary. This is particularly important at Stage 2 when the length of time required may depend on the number of amendments lodged.

35. There is a presumption that a committee will complete its consideration of a Bill within the timetable, even if that means scheduling additional meetings. Standing orders make it clear that the Stage 1 debate cannot take place until the lead committee has reported. Similarly, a Bill cannot proceed to Stage 3 unless all amendments at Stage 2 have been dealt with. If a committee failed to meet the timetable, it would, at best, have breached an agreement with Bureau and, at worst, have breached a resolution of the Parliament. Standing Orders prescribe no specific sanction but the future timetabling of the Bill and any other issues arising would be matters for the Business Managers and the Bureau.