Orders of the Day

Reformation to Referendum: Writing a New History of Parliament

O is for orders of the day, those items of business relating to matters that have already been introduced into the House and which the House has decided should be dealt with on a particular day. The most obvious example is the second or third reading, or the report stage, of a bill. They are to be contrasted with notices of motion, which are new items of business that a Member has put on the House’s agenda for a particular day: as Spencer Perceval put it in 1811, orders ‘were a portion of the public business fixed by the House to come forward on a particular day’; notices ‘were only fixed at the pleasure of a particular member’. The distinction between these two elements used to be the basis for the construction of the House’s daily agenda (confusingly and unhelpfully known as an order paper). The terminology has largely…

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