FAQs on the High Speed 2 Hybrid Bill

What is a Hybrid Bill?

Hybrid bills are so called because they combine features of public bills and private bills. Essentially they are Government bills which affect certain individuals and bodies in ways that do not affect everybody. Infrastructure bills—and in particular transport infrastructure bills—tend to do this because they have different effects for different geographical parts of the route.

How is a Hybrid Bill treated in Parliament?

In Parliament, hybrid bills are treated partly like public bills and partly like private bills. Like a public bill, the bill is first presented by a Government Minister (First Reading) and is then debated in a Second Reading debate. If Second Reading is agreed to, the bill is referred to a specially appointed select committee, similar to the process for private bills which gives individuals and bodies directly and specially affected by the bill the opportunity to object to the bill’s provisions and seek its amendment.

The select committee hears argument and evidence from the promoters of the bill and from petitioners and reaches a decision on each point at issue. It can recommend changes to the bill.

After the select committee stage, in the House of Commons a public bill committee follows in which the bill’s clauses are debated by MPs. 

Find out more information about how public bill committees work.

After the select committee stage in the House of Lords the bill is generally considered by a Grand Committee in which the bill’s clauses are debated by peers.

After the public bill committee, or the Grand Committee, the bill progresses in the same way as a normal public bill. This process happens in each House.

Can I oppose the Bill?

  • In the House of Commons

The principles of the Bill were debated by Members of Parliament at Second Reading, and if the Bill passes its Second Reading the House is taken to have agreed the principle of the Bill. You can lobby your MP before the Second Reading debate, but after Second Reading the principle of having a High Speed 2 Phase One Railway cannot be opposed.

There was a period for petitioning against the Bill itself (which ran from April 29 to May 23 2014) during which you could oppose any particular aspect of the Bill (including details of the route) if you could demonstrate that you were an individual, group of individuals, or organisation directly and specially affected. The way to do this was to petition against the Bill in the form set out in the petitioning guidance. A valid petition gave petitioners the opportunity to be heard by the select committee. If the select committee agreed with petitioners’ objections it had the power to change the Bill accordingly.  The Commons Select Committee on the Bill has now reported so there will be no further opportunity to have your objections heard by that Committee.

The bill will have further debates on Consideration and on Third Reading so you may lobby Members of Parliament in advance of those debates.

  • In the House of Lords

If the Bill Is read a third time in the House of Commons it will immediately be sent to the House of Lords and will go through similar stages to those already passed in the House of Commons.

There will be a petitioning period, which will probably begin as soon as the Bill arrives and last about three weeks, when anyone specially and directly affected by the Bill can oppose particular aspects of the Bill by depositing a “petition” – which is basically an outline of how you are affected, what you would like to be changed in the Bill and a request to have your views considered by the Select Committee – a petition MUST be deposited within the petitioning period; there will not be a further opportunity in the House of Lords.  The process of petitioning is similar in the House of Lords to that in the House of Commons but there are some differences (notably the form of the petition and the fact that it does not have to be deposited in person in Parliament).  The House of Lords HS2 Petitioning Kit (PDF PDF 336 KB) explains how to petition and what these differences are.  It can be downloaded here or you may ask the House of Lords Private Bill Office to send you copies by email or post ([email protected] or phone: 020 7219 2468).

A campaign group which is not composed of individuals directly and specially affected, but which simply opposes the principle of the Bill, cannot petition either in the House of Commons or in the House of Lords. Such groups can, however, lobby Members of Parliament separately from the petitioning process.

Can you give an example of what “specially and directly affected” means?

A customer of a directly affected commodity (e.g. cement) supplier who lost that supplier because of the planned railway would probably not be considered directly affected because they would normally be able to find an alternative supplier elsewhere. Hence they would be considered only indirectly affected. A customer of a specialist product not obtainable elsewhere might argue differently, however.

Arguing that another transport project had been cancelled because of HS2 would be another example of an indirect effect.

To show that you are “specially affected” you must demonstrate that there are effects on you and/or your community that exceed the general impact of an infrastructure project on the relevant local population. This might vary depending on the locality. In a rural area it might cover a wider area, for instance. A Birmingham resident would probably not be able to argue that they were specially affected merely because of the general effect of the railway on Birmingham’s economy, but a resident of a Birmingham suburb might argue differently in relation to the local economy.

If you are in any doubt about whether you are directly and specially affected you can obtain advice via the House of Lords Private Bill Office.

What is a locus standi challenge?

Locus standi is the right of a petitioner to appear before the Select Committee based on their petition documents demonstrating adequately that they are directly and specially affected. It can be challenged if the promoter of the Bill disagrees that there is a direct and special effect. In that event, the Committee decides whether there is a right to appear. You will be notified if your petition is to be challenged.

How exactly do I petition?

You should follow the advice and recommended format contained in the House of Lords HS2 Petitioning Kit (PDF PDF 336 KB).

Petitioning dates, times and locations for petitioning in the House of Lords

The House of Lords petitioning dates have not yet been announced but will be posted here are soon as possible.

Opening times:

You do not have to bring your petitions in person, it is possible to post or email them (please see the House of Lords HS2 Petitioning Kit (PDF PDF 336 KB) for details on exactly how to do that).  If you do wish to bring your petition to the House you may do so from 10am to 5pm on weekdays (except on bank holidays) during the petitioning period.  On one Wednesday during the petitioning period the opening time will be extended from 10am to 9pm.

Petitions should be brought to Committee Room 2A during the hours above.  Committee Room 2A is situated on the Committee Corridor in the main Houses of Parliament (very near where the House of Commons Select Committee held its hearings) NOT where petitions were deposited in the House of Commons.  You should enter the building via the Cromwell Green entrance (The entrance is marked 6 on the map (PDF PDF 579 KB)).

Please do not bring bulky or sharp items as a security screen will operate on entrance and be aware that, when either House is sitting, there can be a queue of people waiting to get into the building and you must be inside the Committee Room before 5pm (or 9pm when appropriate).

If you require any special assistance please speak to the Visitor Assistant when you arrive.

Why must I pay a £20 fee to petition?

The fee of £20 is partly a token of good faith and partly to help defray the administrative costs of running the select committee in each House. It has remained at its current level since 1988. Payment will be accepted by cash or cheque. in the House of Lords payment should accompany your petition if you bring the petition to the House, or posted to the House of Lords Private Bill Office. Cheques should be made payable to ‘House of Lords account’ and marked ‘HS2’ on the back. It is possible for you and other petitioners affected in the same way can submit a single petition for which there will be a single £20 fee.

If you have already petitioned on the Bill in the House of Commons you will have to pay a second time.

Can my petition be reviewed in advance?

Yes, the House of Lords Private Bill Office will review petitions. For contact details, see below. However, please be aware that the earlier you sent your draft the more likely it will be reviewed. Toward the end of the petitioning period it will be difficult to review drafts in any degree of detail.

What if I miss the petitioning deadline?

If you miss the deadline in the House of Lords you will not have a further opportunity to petition against the Bill.

Why must I sign a declaration agreeing to observe parliamentary rules and practice?

A petition on a hybrid bill gives the opportunity to participate in extensive and highly significant parliamentary proceedings which are similar to court proceedings, and it is important that these are conducted properly and without disruption.

What if I do not want my address published?

In that case, include it only on Appendix B: Information sheets, and in the petition simply include a general indication of your location.

Should I include details of any medical condition which I think is relevant to my petition?

Not unless you are content for them to be published.  Your full petition (without the signature and without the Information sheets) will be posted on the web.

What is different about a petition against a Hybrid Bill?

A petition in this context is different from a normal petition to the House of Commons or the House of Lords, a campaign petition or even an e-petition requesting a debate in Parliament. It is a document, in a particular format, in which you explain how you will be affected by the Bill and why you think parts of it should not be proceeded with, or how you would like it to be altered. The format is important, but any ordinary person will be able to write one if they follow the instructions in the House of Lords HS2 Petitioning Kit (PDF PDF 336 KB). It is not possible to petition in favour of the Bill.

If I want to petition in different capacities can I sign more than one petition?

Yes, provided you are not attempting to make exactly the same case twice over. You can sign, for example, one petition as an individual setting out your individual complaint, and another as a member of an affected body explaining the cumulative effect on a group of people.

Age of Petitioner?

To petition the House of Lords petitioners must be 18 or over.  However, somebody over the age of 18 can petition on behalf of a minor and, if they wish, call that minor as a witness (if they are competent to give evidence).

What are Roll A and Roll B agents, and do I need a solicitor or legal advice?

Roll A agents promote Bills and are professional specialists in parliamentary bill procedure. You do not have to employ a Roll A agent. The two legal firms acting as Roll A agents for the HS2 Bill are Winckworth Sherwood and Eversheds. Because they are promoting the Bill they cannot act for petitioners. Other Roll A agents, who can act for petitioners, are listed in the House of Lords petitioning kit (Appendix G: Roll A Agents (PDF PDF 101 KB)). Alternatively, you might wish to consult a different lawyer or other source of advice to assist with your petition.

A Roll B agent is someone else who represents a petitioner and presents their case before the select committee. Anyone you think can put your case effectively can apply to be a Roll B agent and act on your behalf. If you want someone who is not named on the petition or a member or officer of your organisation to represent you, and that person is not a Roll A agent, they will need to become a Roll B agent and (unless they are themselves a lawyer) obtain a certificate of respectability from a Member of Parliament, Justice of the Peace, solicitor or barrister.  Anyone who acted as a Roll B agent in the House of Commons does not need to produce another Certificate of Respectability in the House of Lords; we can access the one you supplied to the House of Commons.  They do, however, need to apply again to act as a Roll B agent in the House of Lords.

Both types of agent can sign and deposit petitions on your behalf and represent you before the select committee on the Bill.

The application forms for becoming a Roll B agent in the House of Lords are in the House of Lords HS2 petitioning kit (Appendix E: Roll B Agent application form (PDF PDF 86 KB)). These can be deposited in advance, at the same time as your petition or shortly afterwards.

Can I appoint a second agent in the House of Lords?

You can only have one agent representing you at any one time but if, for example, your agent is only available on certain days, you may present the paperwork for a second agent and give as much notice as possible that the second person will be representing you.

Can I be a Roll B agent for several different people and/or bodies?

Yes, and you only need to complete one House of Lords Roll B application form – this is in addition to any application you may have made in the House of Commons. However, you will need separate forms of authority from each person or body you represent.

Will my Roll B agent need to re-apply for Session 2016–17?

No. The House of Lords application form applies to Session 2015-16 and to 2016-17.

What happens after I have deposited my petition?

Your petition will be copied and sent to the promoter of the bill (in this case, the Department for Transport). Petitions will be published online, on the HS2 hybrid bill webpage, as soon as possible after deposit. Your petition number will match the number on your receipt.

Provided the petition explains how you are specially and directly affected and establishes a valid objection, you will be called to make your case to the select committee.

HS2 Ltd has the right to object to a petition being heard  if the petition does not demonstrate a direct and special effect by the Bill on the petitioner. If it is going to make any objection of this type it must do so by notice to the House of Lords Private Bill Office, copied to the petitioner, at least five days before the start of the Select Committee petition hearings. The Committee will then hear each side’s case on this issue and reach a decision.

HS2 Ltd will send an acknowledgment to every petitioner to confirm that it has received a copy of the petition from the House of Lords Private Bill Office. After that, you may be contacted by HS2 Ltd or its parliamentary agents (Winckworth Sherwood and Eversheds) with a view to possible settlement of your objections to the Bill. Alternatively, or in addition, they may (at the request of the Select Committee on the Bill) contact you to start arranging times for you to appear before the Committee. This is normal hybrid bill practice and is designed to try to accommodate petitioners as much as possible.

If you are going to appear before the Committee (i.e. if you do not withdraw or settle your case), you will receive a formal invitation letter including a statement that you agree to observe the rules and procedures of the House of Lords. You will also receive a formal written response document from HS2 Ltd setting out its position in relation to your petition. On the day you appear, you will need to tell our staff in the Committee Room who will be making your case, and you will need to take an oath or make a statement or affirmation that your evidence will be true.

You can call witnesses and cite evidence to support your case. We need to know about any witnesses and receive any evidence you intend to produce by 5pm, two clear working days before you appear so that this information can be forwarded to the Committee members and to HS2 Ltd, and be uploaded for display during the hearings. You will receive HS2’s relevant evidence in advance as well.

If you are appointing an agent and have not already finalised your arrangements for doing so you can do this at any time. The agent will need to send the House of Lords Private Bill Office the relevant forms in good time. If you think this requirement may cause problems, please contact the Private Bill Office on 020 2719 2468 or [email protected] You should do the same if at any point you want to change your agent.

What further information can I get now?

The House of Lords Private Bill Office (who are dealing with the petitioning and Select Committee aspects of the HS2 Bill can be contacted by email: [email protected] or by phone on 020 7219 2468.

Further information