The weekly quiz – procedures of the House

Lord Norton

Some of the procedures of the House are longstanding.  Others are recent.  Changes are regularly made, as for example with the provision for a dedicated question time for Secretaries of State who sit in the House.  Our guide is the Companion to the Standing Orders and Guide to the Proceedings of the House of Lords, more frequently referred to as the Companion.  Even the Clerks have to reach for it when a really obscure point of procedure is raised with them.  This week’s quiz relates to the rules and procedures of the House.

1.  When a division (vote) is held on a bill or on subordinate legislation, what is the quorum?

2. In a time-limited debate in which peers sign up to speak, it is possible for a peer who has not signed up in advance to speak in what is known as ‘the gap’ – the slot between the end of back-bench speeches and the start of the front-bench speeches – if time allows.  What is the maximum number of minutes allowed for someone speaking in the gap?

3. When a minister makes a statement, twenty minutes are allowed for questions from the opposition front benches and the minister’s reply.  What is the maximum time then permitted for questions from back-bench members of the House?

4. During Question Time, who is it who rises to call the name of the peer with the question on the Order Paper?

As usual, the first two readers to supply the correct answers will be the winners.

Next week, I will post a bumper Christmas quiz.  I also plan to catch up on a number of posts I have been planning…

13 comments for “The weekly quiz – procedures of the House

  1. Gareth Howell
    19/12/2009 at 1:17 pm

    1) 4
    2) Depends on Lord Speaker’s decision.
    3) 15
    4) Lord speaker’s clerk

    Easy; Gar wins all.

  2. lordnorton
    19/12/2009 at 1:22 pm

    Gareth Howell: Gar loses all, I’m afraid. None of your answers is correct.

  3. Croft
    19/12/2009 at 2:39 pm

    1) 30
    2) 4 mins
    3) 20 mins
    4) Clerk of the Parliaments

  4. tory boy
    19/12/2009 at 5:27 pm

    4 clerk of parliaments
    3 20 minutes
    2 2 minutes
    1 30

  5. Rob
    19/12/2009 at 6:05 pm

    1. 30
    2. 4
    3. 20
    4. The Clerk of the Parliaments

  6. 19/12/2009 at 6:51 pm

    1) 3 members
    2) 4 minutes
    3) 20 minutes
    4) Clerk of Parliaments

  7. 19/12/2009 at 6:52 pm

    Correction to number 1.

    I think it’s 3 members to have a debate but 30 members when a division is held.

  8. Jana
    19/12/2009 at 11:00 pm

    1. 30 for votes on legislation primary or secondary (as opposed to only 3 for general or procedural type stuff)

    2. 4 minutes

    3. 20 minutes from the end of the minister’s initial reply to the Opposition spokesmen

    4. I think it’s the Clerk of the Parliaments?

    The Companion to the Standing Orders and guide to the Proceedings of the House of Lords, available on line at:

  9. Nick
    20/12/2009 at 8:31 pm

    30 people present is sufficent for legistlation.

    Why do we then need over 700 lords with plans for 900?

    Can’t we cut them back to 100, which is still more than 3 times that needed for a quorum

    Rather puts an end to the myth that there is so much work for even 100 to handle if they pass legistlation with just 30


  10. lordnorton
    21/12/2009 at 5:14 pm

    Congratulations to Croft and Rob who got in first with the correct answers. The answers are indeed 30, 4 minutes, 20 minutes, and the Clerk of the Parliaments.

    Toryboy just missed out, getting three out of the four correct. As some of you recognised, the quorum for divisions on primary and subordinate legislation (30) is different to that for other motions.

  11. lordnorton
    21/12/2009 at 5:16 pm

    According to my records, this makes Croft a grand prize-winner for a second time. He joins Jonthan, who already holds this distinction.

  12. Gareth Howell
    21/12/2009 at 9:05 pm

    Well done.

    I must apologise for multiplicating post, and plastering my name five or six times on one thread. I shall try to compose off line
    and in the event of a longer reply, hope that it will get read on merit rather than for brevity. Then you can ignore the lot rather than be annoyed by that man again!

    It is a great privilegee to enjoy versation, or con-versation, with such as Baroness Murphy of Guy’s hospital, with whom Howell family has had many generations connection, since its foundation, and also with Baroness Deech, whose Alma Mater was the old school, Christ’s Hospital, the favourite children’s charity of the city of London, Hospital of a different kind, with whom I have also had a life long association.

    Thank you very much to noble Lord Norton for his superlative patience and good humour in running these quizzes, which get more interesting every time I win it. Argghh!

    Now where is that link to the info?!Heh! Heh!

  13. Bedd Gelert
    21/12/2009 at 11:41 pm

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