The House of Commons has given certain Public Bill Committees the power to receive written submissions - known as memoranda - from outside organisations and individuals.
These notes are intended to help you if you wish to make a written submission to a Public Bill Committee.
Which Public Bill Committees can receive submissions?
If a Government Bill is referred to a Public Bill Committee, you will be able to submit written evidence.
Examples of Bills which do not fall within the above category are:
- Bills that will be examined in Committee of the whole House (because they are very uncontroversial, need to pass very quickly through the House or make major constitutional changes) and
- Bills introduced by an individual backbench MP, known as Private Members' Bills.
If you are uncertain whether the Committee on the Bill you are interested in is likely to be receiving written submissions, please contact the Scrutiny Unit (details below) for advice.
What should written evidence cover?
Your submission should address matters contained within the Bill and concentrate on issues where you have a special interest or expertise, and factual information of which you would like the Committee to be aware.
Your submission could most usefully:
- suggest amendments to the Bill with explanation; and
- (when available) support or oppose amendments tabled or proposed to the Bill by others with explanation
It is helpful if the submission includes a brief introduction about you or your organisation. The submission should not have been previously published or circulated elsewhere.
If you have any concerns about your submission, please contact the Scrutiny Unit (details below).
Timescale for submitting
Submissions can be accepted after the second reading debate on the bill. The sooner you send the evidence to us, the better. If you are in doubt about the timing of your submission, please contact the Scrutiny Unit (details below).
Submissions received before the Committee is nominated will be circulated to Committee members as soon as the Committee is nominated. Subsequent submissions will be circulated to Committee members on a regular basis.
Please be aware that the Government Minister in charge of the Bill is a member of the Committee and will therefore see all written submissions.
How should written evidence be submitted?
Your submission should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that submissions sent to the Government department in charge of the Bill will not be treated as evidence to the Public Bill Committee.
It also assists the committee if those submitting evidence adhere to the following guidelines. Each submission should:
- Be less than 25 MB in size
- Be in Word (doc, docx, rtf, txt ooxml or odt format, not PDF)
- Contain as few logos or embedded pictures as possible
- Contain no macros
- Comprise a single document. If there are any annexes or appendices, these should be included in the same document.
- State clearly who the submission is from, i.e. whether from yourself in a personal capacity or sent on behalf of an organisation, for example the submission could be headed ‘Written evidence submitted by xxxxxx’
- Be concise – we recommend no more than 3,000 words in length
- Begin with an executive summary in bullet point form of the main points made in the submission
- Include a brief introduction about yourself/your organisation and your reason for submitting evidence
- Have numbered paragraphs
- Include any factual information you have to offer from which the committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other witnesses for their reactions
What will happen to my submission?
The written evidence will be circulated to all Committee members to inform their consideration of the Bill.
Those making a submission to a Committee inquiry should note the following:
- Committees publish most of the written evidence they receive on the internet (where it will be accessible to search engines).
- If you do not wish your submission to be published, you must clearly say so and explain your reasons for not wishing its disclosure. The committee will take this into account in deciding whether to publish. If you wish to include private or confidential information in your submission to the committee, please contact the clerk of the committee to discuss this. The Scrutiny Unit (details below) will be able to provide you with contact details for the clerk.
- A committee is not obliged to accept your submission as evidence, nor to publish any or all of the submission even if it has been accepted as evidence. This may occur where a submission is very long or contains material to which it is inappropriate to give parliamentary privilege (see Guide for Witnesses ( PDF 1.14 MB) (PDF 1.14 MB) for further information on parliamentary privilege).
- Material already published elsewhere should not form the basis of a submission, but may be referred to within a submission, in which case it should be clearly referenced, preferably with a hyperlink.
- You should be careful not to comment on matters currently before a court of law, or matters in respect of which court proceedings are imminent. If you anticipate such issues arising, you should discuss with the clerk of the committee how this might affect your submission.
- Once submitted, no public use should be made of any submission prepared specifically for the committee unless you have first obtained permission from the clerk of the committee. If you are given permission by the committee to publish your evidence separately, you should be aware that you will be legally responsible for its content.
- Evidence which is accepted by the Committee may be published online at any stage; when it is so published it becomes subject to parliamentary copyright and is protected by parliamentary privilege.
- Once you have received acknowledgement that the evidence has been published you may publicise or publish your evidence yourself. In doing so you must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee, and you should be aware that your publication or re-publication of your evidence may not be protected by parliamentary privilege.
- Public Bill Committees do not investigate individual cases of complaint or allegations of maladministration.
- The personal information you supply will be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 for the purposes of attributing the evidence you submit and contacting you as necessary in connection with its processing.
- The Clerk of the House of Commons is the data controller for the purposes of the Act.
- If you have any queries or concerns about the collection and use of this information please advise the committee team providing your full contact details.
Who to contact
Telephone: 020 7219 8387
Address: Ian Hook
Senior Executive Officer
House of Commons
London SW1A OAA