If you don’t already have a hardcopy to hand, you should get hold of the latest (May 2010) edition of Business of the House and its Committees: a short guide. This 112 page booklet is available from the Vote Offices and the Table Office.
This is one of the must-have items for all Members’ offices as the guide throws much needed light on many of the still (despite “modernisation”) weird and wonderful practices at Westminster. In particular, the Procedure and Practice section includes lots of helpful descriptions of terminology and practices whose names don’t give a clue as to their real meaning.
As a result of a request from W4MP (August 2010), it is now also available linked from this page on the public Parliament website: http://www.parliament.uk/business/. The direct link to this publication, which is a pdf (610 KB), is: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-information-office/business-of-the-house-and-its-cttees.pdf.
Foreword by the Clerk of the House by Malcolm Jack, Clerk of the House. May 2010
This guide is written by staff in the Department of Chamber and Committee Services with the needs of new Members primarily in mind but it will be useful to others who want to know how the House and its committees work.
The guide is also intended to indicate opportunities available to Members to participate in, and influence, the business of the House and its committees in an effective way. Where necessary, sources of further detail are given, but procedure and practice are constantly evolving and often there is no substitute for discussion with the staff responsible for particular day-to-day operations.
If you are a member of the public and see that an item is marked on W4MP as ‘available only on the parliamentary intranet’, it’s always worth asking whether it could be made available on the public Parliament website. There has been a move over recent years to make much more material publicly available and we are as keen as anyone to support this trend. If you don’t ask – you don’t necessarily get!
Have a look at our list of other sources of help and guidance on those parliamentary procedures, practices, rules etc. It’s at: How the Place Works: Parliamentary Procedure.