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The carry-over of public bills from one session to the next was suggested by the Modernisation Committee as a way of reducing the fluctuations in legislative activity caused by parliamentary sessions. After briefly summarising the Modernisation Committee’s views, this briefing paper describes the different approaches to allowing bills to be carried forward in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

House of Commons

On 29 October 2002, the House of Commons introduced carry-over on an experimental basis until the end of the 2001 Parliament

On 26 October 2004, the House of Commons agreed to make slightly amended arrangements to make carry-over permanent (now Standing Order No 80A). The permanent Standing Order was effective from the beginning of the 2004-05 session of Parliament.

Before the permanent Standing Order became effective, six bills were carried over.

Since the Standing Order became permanent:

  • nine bills were carried over in the 2005 Parliament
  • 11 in the 2010 Parliament
  • two in the 2015 Parliament, in the 2015–16 session. Three carry-over motions were agreed to in the 2016–17 session, before the general election was announced. However, it is not possible for public bills to be carried-over from one Parliament to another so these decisions did not have effect in the 2017 Parliament.
  • one bill was carried over at the end of the first session of the 2017 Parliament

In the 2019 Parliament:

  • five bills were carried over from the 2019–21 session. Four under Standing Order No 80A and one bill that was allowed two years to complete its passage
  • in the 2021–22 session, four bills were carried over. Two carry-over motions were agreed under Standing Order No 80A and two other bills were carried over with two years to complete their passage
  • in the 2022–23 session, five bills were carried over, all under Standing Order No 80A

(These figures exclude bills introduced under a Ways and Means Resolution, see below, and hybrid bills.)

Under the Standing Order, proceedings lapse on bills that have not received Royal Assent within twelve months of their original introduction. However, the Standing Order does allow the period to be extended: these provisions have been used in connection with nine bills.

In December 2011, the Standing Order was amended and a new Standing Order was made to allow bills introduced under Ways and Means resolutions to be carried over. This followed moving from spring to spring parliamentary sessions, in the wake of the passage of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. The Finance (No 4) Bill 2010–12 was the first such bill to be the subject of a carry-over motion under the new Standing Order.

This research briefing also provides examples of the form of words used in carry-over motions.

House of Lords

In the House of Lords, a procedure for carry-over was agreed on 24 July 2002, following recommendations from the House of Lords Procedure Committee. 

Since the 2003–04 session, four public bills have been carried over in the House of Lords.

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