Private Bills

Private Bills are usually promoted by organisations, like local authorities or private companies, to give themselves powers beyond, or in conflict with, the general law. Private Bills only change the law as it applies to specific individuals or organisations, rather than the general public. Groups or individuals potentially affected by these changes can petition Parliament against the proposed Bill and present their objections to committees of MPs and Lords.

How Private Bills start

Bills can start in either House. The formal stages of Private Bills are broadly the same as Public Bills.

Letting the public know

Parliament requires that Private Bills are publicised through newspaper adverts, official gazettes of local areas, and in writing to all interested parties. People directly affected by a Private Bill - for example, residents near a proposed site for a new cemetery - should also be informed.

Petitioning against Private Bills

Any group or individual directly affected by a Bill's proposals can object to it through petitions, examined and considered by committees of MPs and of Lords. Further details on drafting a petition are available from the Private Bill Offices in the Commons and Lords.

The Court of Referees is charged with considering the rights of a petitioner to make a challenge against a Private Bill.

Further information

Related information

Bills v Acts

A Bill is not an Act of Parliament. This is what a Bill becomes if approved by a majority in the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and formally agreed to by the reigning monarch (known as Royal Assent).

An Act of Parliament is a law, enforced in all areas of the UK where it is applicable.

Living Heritage

Learn how Private Bills have led to historic improvements in transport infrastructure

Private Bills before Parliament

View current Private Bills before Parliament.