House of Representatives Practice, 6th edition – HTML version

12 - Senate amendments and requests

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Senate bills amended by House

If the Senate returns a Senate bill which has been amended by the House with any of the amendments made by the House disagreed to, or further amendments made, together with reasons[108] the message is usually considered immediately.[109] The procedure of the House is then as follows:[110]

(a) If the Senate disagrees to House amendments to a Senate bill, the House may:

(i) insist, or not insist, on its amendments;

(ii) make further amendments to the bill consequent upon the rejection of its amendments;

(iii) make new amendments alternative to the amendments to which the Senate has disagreed; or

(iv) order the bill to be laid aside.

(b) If the Senate agrees to House amendments with amendments, the House may:

(i) agree to the Senate’s amendments, with or without amendment, making any consequential amendments to the bill;

(ii) disagree to the Senate’s amendments and insist on its own amendments; or

(iii) order the bill to be laid aside.

(c) Except when a bill is laid aside, the House shall inform the Senate by message of its decision under paragraph (a) or (b). On any further return of the bill from the Senate with any of the requirements of the House still disagreed to, the House may order the bill to be laid aside.

The courses of action under (a) have not been interpreted as being mutually exclusive. For example, the House has declared that it did not insist on an amendment before going on to propose an alternative.[111] It has also stated that it insisted on an amendment but proceeded to revise its wording.[112] When a bill is returned to the Senate with any of the amendments made by the Senate on the amendments of the House disagreed to, the message returning the bill to the Senate also contains reasons for the House not agreeing to amendments made by the Senate. The reasons are presented to the House by the Member moving the motion that the amendment(s) be disagreed to.[113] The former practice of appointing a committee to draw up reasons was discontinued in 1998.[114]

If any further amendments are made by the House on the Senate’s amendments on the original amendments of the House to a Senate bill, a schedule of further amendments is prepared and certified by the Clerk.[115]

The House may not amend any words of a bill which both Houses have agreed to, unless the words have been the subject of, or directly affected by, some previous amendment; or the proposed House amendment is consequent upon an amendment previously agreed to or made by the House.[116]

If the Senate makes an amendment which is not relevant to the amendments made by the House to a Senate bill, it is necessary for the House to suspend standing orders to enable the amendment to be considered. In the case of the International War Crimes Tribunal Bill 1994 the Senate agreed to all but one of the amendments made by the House, proposed another amendment in place of the one it disagreed to, and made further amendments to the bill and to a related bill. Before the House considered the Senate messages, standing and sessional orders were suspended to enable the further amendments to be considered.[117]

At every stage, when the House concludes its consideration of a Senate bill returned from the Senate after amendment by the House, the Clerk shall certify the bill and any accompanying schedules.[118]

If a Senate bill has returned to the Senate according to the processes outlined above and agreement is still not reached, Senate standing orders give the Senate the options of ordering the bill to be laid aside or of requesting a conference,[119] as described in the following Chapter on ‘Disagreements between the Houses’.


108. S.O. 168. As is the practice of the House, where a House amendment is disagreed to, but another amendment made in place thereof, no reasons are given, VP 1920–21/389.
109. E.g. VP 1974–75/759–60.
110. S.O. 169.
111. VP 1920–21/139.
112. VP 1903/179.
113. S.O. 170(b); VP 1913/204.
114. VP 1996–98/3170.
115. S.O. 170(a).
116. S.O. 172.
117. VP 1993–95/1920–36.
118. S.O. 171.
119. Senate S.O. 127.

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