Standing Orders and Parliamentary questions
Produced in partnership with Carl Gardner of Head of Legal
Standing Orders and Parliamentary questions

The following Public Law guidance note Produced in partnership with Carl Gardner of Head of Legal provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Standing Orders and Parliamentary questions
  • Standing Orders of the House of Commons
  • Standing Orders of the House of Lords
  • Parliamentary questions
  • PQs in the Commons
  • Question time
  • Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs)
  • Written questions
  • PQs in the Lords

An important aspect of Parliamentary privilege is that each House has the privilege of controlling its own procedures. There are many rules and customs that affect how each House runs. Some of these are written down and are called Standing Orders.

Standing Orders are written rules formulated by each House to regulate its own proceedings. They cover, for example, how business is arranged and conducted, the behaviour of MPs and members of the House or Lords during debates, and rules relating to committees.

Erskine May: Parliamentary Practice is considered the authoritative source on Parliamentary procedure. It provides details of observed 'rules' within each House, including those relating to Standing Orders.

Standing Orders of the House of Commons

The Standing Orders of the House of Commons codify much (but not all) of the procedure and practice of the House. Standing Orders do not always reflect the developments in the actual practice of the House, and cannot be read as an exhaustive code of Parliamentary procedure.

They are however a mechanism for regulating Parliamentary business in important respects. They deal with matters such as:

  1. sittings of the House

  2. arrangement of business

  3. questions, motions, amendments and statements

  4. rules of debate

  5. divisions

  6. order

  7. public money

  8. programming of bills and

  9. committees

Standing Orders Nos. 1, 1A and 1B govern the election of the Speaker of the House, for example.