Chapter 12 - Legislation

Instructions to committee of the whole

A motion may also be moved after the second reading for an instruction to the committee of the whole which is to consider the bill. Such a motion may be moved only if notice has been given (SO 115(2)). A notice for an instruction is a contingent notice, contingent on the bill being read a second time.

An instruction to the committee of the whole on the bill directs the committee as to how it is to consider the bill and as to any particular treatment it is to give the bill. A committee is bound by the instructions given to it by the Senate.

An instruction to a committee of the whole may direct the committee to divide a bill into two or more bills or to consolidate several bills into one (SO 150(1)), or require the committee on a bill to amend an existing statute to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject matter of the bill but which are relevant to the subject matter of the statute it is proposed to amend (SO 150(2)).

These specific kinds of instructions to the committee of the whole are prescribed in the standing orders because, without such instructions, the committee of the whole would not have power to undertake the actions referred to in the instructions. Under the standing orders relating to consideration of bills in committee of the whole, a committee does not have power to divide or consolidate bills or to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject matter of a bill. The latter restriction is not, however, very significant, because it is rare that an amendment is relevant to the subject matter of a statute proposed to be amended by a bill but irrelevant to the subject matter of the bill.

For the division and consolidation of bills, see below.

There are precedents for instructions to committees of the whole in relation to amendments of the kind referred to in the standing orders; these instances occurred in earlier times when a more restrictive view was taken of relevance (see ASP, 6th ed., pp 469-70, and under Committee of the whole: amendments, below).

These prescribed types of instructions, however, do not exhaust the possible instructions which may be given to a committee of the whole. A committee may, for example, be instructed to consider or make particular amendments.

Instructions to a committee of the whole are relatively rare, because, apart from the types of instructions referred to in standing order 150, an instruction may not empower a committee to undertake any action in relation to a bill which it could not otherwise undertake, and if a majority in the Senate is in favour of a particular course of action in relation to a bill it is likely that there would also be a majority in committee of the whole in favour of that course of action. Standing order 149 refers to an instruction empowering a committee to consider matters not otherwise referred to it, or extending or restricting its order of reference. This provision has little application to a committee of the whole on a bill, except where such a committee is instructed to consolidate a bill with another bill not otherwise referred to it or to consider the enacting words in a bill (see below).

Previous page | Contents | Next page

Back to top


Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print