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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):

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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