First reading: Private Bills

The first reading of a Private Bill is the first stage of the Bill’s passage through Parliament. The procedure is similar to the first reading of a Public Bill - it is a formality and takes place without debate.

Which House does the Bill start in?

The Chairman of Ways and Means in the Commons and the Lord Chairman of Committees in the Lords decide which Bills start in the Commons and which in the Lords. Politically contentious Private Bills are more likely to start in the Commons.

First reading

In the Commons, a Private Bill is laid on the Table of the House the next sitting day after a copy of the Bill has been deposited in the Private Bill Office. The process is a formality and there are no other proceedings in the House itself.

In the Lords, there are no proceedings in the House at all - the introduction of the Bill is recorded in the Lords Business and Minutes of Proceedings.

What happens next?

After its first reading, the Bill proceeds to a second reading, the next stage of Bill’s passage through Parliament. There must be at least four days between the first and second reading of a Private Bill.

Related information

Acts of Parliament

Full texts of all Public General Acts as passed since 1988 and all Private Acts since 1991 are available on the National Archives website.

Legislation.gov.uk contains all Acts still in force and in their revised form.