Private Members' Bills

Private Members' Bills

Private Members' Bills are Public Bills introduced by MPs and Lords who are not government ministers. As with other Public Bills their purpose is to change the law as it applies to the general population. A minority of Private Members' Bills become law but, by creating publicity around an issue, they may affect legislation indirectly.

Introducing Private Members' Bills

Like other Public Bills, Private Members' Bills can be introduced in either House and must go through the same set stages. However, as less time is allocated to these Bills, it is less likely that they will proceed through all the stages.

To introduce a Bill in the House of Commons a Member needs to provide its short title (by which it is known) and its long title (which describes briefly what it does). Complete texts are not necessary and some Private Members' Bills are never published in full.

There are three ways of introducing Private Members' Bills in the House of Commons: the Ballot, the Ten Minute Rule and Presentation.

The Ballot

Ballot Bills have the best chance of becoming law, as they get priority for the limited amount of debating time available. The names of Members applying for a Bill are drawn in a ballot held on the second sitting Thursday of a parliamentary session. Normally, the first seven ballot Bills are most likely to get a day's debate.

The first reading (formal presentation - no debate) of ballot Bills takes place on the fifth sitting Wednesday of a parliamentary session.

The Ballot draw for the 2017-18 parliamentary session will be held on Thursday 29 June in Committee Room 10 and will be available to watch online on Parliament live.

Ten Minute Rule

Ten Minute Rule Bills are often an opportunity for Members to voice an opinion on a subject or aspect of existing legislation, rather than a serious attempt to get a Bill passed.

Members make speeches of no more than ten minutes outlining their position, which another Member may oppose in a similar short statement. It is a good opportunity to raise the profile of an issue and to see whether it has support among other Members.

Presentation

Any Member may introduce a Bill in this way as long as he or she has previously given notice of their intention to do so. Members formally introduce the title of the Bill but do not speak in support of it - they rarely become law.

Private Members' Bills in the Lords

Private Members' Bills in the Lords are usually introduced through a ballot held on the day after State Opening of a new session of a parliament. In order to enter the ballot, Peers must submit a draft of their Bill (including its short and long title, and all clauses and schedules) to the Legislation Office. The ballot orders the way in which these Bills receive their First Reading in the House but all subsequent legislative debates are scheduled by the Government's Whips Office. One sitting Friday a month is ordinarily allocated to debating Private Members' Bills.

If a Private Members' Bill introduced in the Lords goes through all the required stages as any other Public Bill, and if an MP supports the Bill, it continues in the Commons. Lords Private Members' Bills are treated like other Private Members' Bills, but do not have priority over Bills introduced in the Commons. They are therefore unlikely to have much, if any, time devoted to them.

On the other hand, Private Member's Bills which have completed all their stages in the Commons are more likely to have the necessary time devoted to them in the Lords to make them law.

Time for consideration of Private Members' Bills in the Commons

Private Members' Bills have precedence over government business on thirteen Fridays in each session under standing order 14 (9).

On the first seven Fridays allotted to Private Members' Bills, precedence is given to ballot bills.

For information on Friday sittings when Private Members' Bills can be debated see:

Related information

Ballot for Private Members' Bills

The ballot for Private Members' Bills for the 2017-18 session will take place on Thursday 29 June 2017. The Bills will be presented on Wednesday 19 July 2017 on the Floor of the House.

Further Information

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