Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008
Sessional orders

For hundreds of years, at the beginning of every parliamentary session, certain orders and regulations known as sessional orders were renewed.

But a Commons Procedure Committee report, published in November 2003, declared that many of the orders were unnecessary, obsolete or even misleading.

For instance, one order ruled that a member would have to withdraw from the chamber if a dispute over his or her re-election was being debated in the House - but such a dispute would now be resolved in the courts, not in Parliament.

The committee's recommendations were accepted by the government, and sessional orders have since been phased out.

Some of the orders relating to the conduct of members have been replaced by a statement, read out by the Commons Speaker at the beginning of each session.

Sessional orders were unlike normal standing orders because they could also regulate the conduct of people other than members.

One example was an order to give the police the power to hold up the traffic outside Parliament in order to let MPs get to the House to take part in debates or to vote.

This power has since been enshrined in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

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