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Covid-19 proceedings: Private Members' Bills

Any backbench MP (an MP who isn't a minister) can introduce a Private Members' Bill. They can be about any topic, but the main purpose can't be to create a new tax or increase government spending.

Under the temporary arrangements which were in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MPs could introduce a Private Members' Bill remotely or physically. 

There are two methods ways in which they were able to do this:

  • Presentation Bills - announces the existence of a bill to the House and names a day for its second reading.
  • Ten-minute rule bills - an MP can speak about their bill for ten minutes and then another MP who opposes the bill has the opportunity to speak against it, also for ten minutes.

MPs must give notice for a bill to be introduced by emailing the Public Bill Office. Bills could be presented either remotely or physically.

Presentation bills

A bill can be presented under this procedure on any day of the week when the House is sitting. It is purely a formal event and the MP presenting the bill cannot speak to the House about it.

When presenting a bill, the Speaker will call the MP to present the bill. A clerk at the Table will read out the title of the bill and the MP must then name the date for the second reading.

When participating remotely, an MP remained on the call to do this. In the event of technical issues, the Speaker informed the House of the date for the bill's second reading.

Ten-minute rule bills

Two ten-minute rule bills may be presented in the Chamber each week: one on a Tuesday and one on a Wednesday.

Ten-minute rule bills allow an MP to speak about the merits of their bill for ten minutes, and for another MP who opposes the bill to speak against it. There may be a vote to decide if the bill can progress to its second reading.

To move a ten-minute rule motion, the Speaker will call the MP to speak for up to ten minutes. When participating remotely, the MP remained on the call after speaking (and after any opposing speech or subsequent division) to list the names of the MPs who were bringing in the bill, and to provide a date for second reading.

To oppose a ten-minute rule bill, any MP wishing to do so had to notify the Speaker's Office by 6pm on the day before the bill is to be presented. The Speaker then called them to speak after the MP presenting the bill had spoken.

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