House of Representatives Committees
Standing Committee on Procedure
History of the Procedure Committee
There were a number of proposals to appoint a procedure committee in
the years prior to its eventual establishment in 1985.
In 1976 the Joint Committee on the Parliamentary Committee System recommended
that each House appoint a procedure committee to replace the Standing
Orders Committee. The original Standing Orders Committee included in its
membership the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the Leader of the House and
the Leader of the Opposition. It was thought to be top heavy and unable
to function effectively as an instrument of reform, having procedures
which precluded it from taking evidence and hearing views of persons other
than members of the committee.
On 19 August 1981 the House debated and negatived a motion proposing
the appointment of a standing committee on the practices and procedures
of the House. The committee was finally appointed by the House on 27 February
1985 (34th Parliament):
... to inquire into and report upon the practices and procedures
of the House generally with a view to making recommendations for their
improvement or change and the development of new procedures.
On the same day standing order 25, providing for the appointment of the
Standing Orders Committee, was suspended for the remainder of the session.
The role of the committee as described in the standing orders is now simply
"to inquire into and report on the practices and procedures of the House and
its committees". It is assumed that any recommendations for change would be
to improve those practices and procedures.
The committee was reappointed with the same terms of reference at the
commencement of each Parliament since, initially by resolution and then
by sessional or standing order. On 15 October 1992 a standing order, setting
out the functions and operation of the Standing Committee on Procedure,
was incorporated into the permanent standing orders of the House and standing
order 25 (Standing Orders Committee) was deleted. In the restructured
standing orders operating from November 2004, the standing orders governing
the operation of all committees of the House (standing orders 228-248) also
apply to the Procedure Committee.
Standing order 221 provides that the committee shall consist of seven
members, four government and three non-government. The Chair of the committee
is to be a government member. The committee has the power to appoint subcommittees
and the committee (or any subcommittee) has the same powers as the general
purpose standing committees to take evidence, call for documents and meet
outside Canberra. The quorum of the committee is three.
The committee is able to determine its own inquiries within the broad
framework of its overall terms of reference as set out above.
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