Skip to main content

How to petition against a private bill

If you are "specially and directly affected" by a Private Bill you may oppose the Bill or seek its amendment before a Select Committee in either or in both Houses. There are specific times when petitions can be presented. If you present a petition against the Bill at the appropriate times you may be able to have your views on that Bill heard by a committee.

What is a petition?

A petition against a Private Bill is not the same as a public petition. It is a document, in a particular format, outlining how you are affected by a Private Bill and why you think it shouldn't be proceeded with or how you would like it altered.

How do I petition?

Detailed information about the petitioning process in the Commons and the Lords is contained in the separate guides below.

Can I petition in both Houses?

Yes, you can petition against the same Bill in both Houses if you wish. However, you can not do this by presenting a petition to both Houses at the same time.

There is a set period at the beginning of a bill's passage though each House and you must present your petitions during those two periods. The form of the petition is slightly different in each House so it is important to make sure you use the correct format for either the Commons or the Lords.

I didn't petition in the House of Commons/Lords can I petition when the Bill reaches the other House?

Yes. You can petition either House.

When can I petition?

There are two short set times when petitions can be presented against each Private Bill:

  • The first petitioning period takes place in the House where the Bill starts its progress though Parliament

  • The second petitioning period, of 10 days, begins on the day after each bill is sent to the second House. For example, if a Bill starts in the House of Commons, the petitioning period in the Lords will be 10 days beginning on the day after that bill is sent from the Commons to the Lords

Dates for petitioning periods are available on Private Bill pages listed on the Bills before Parliament page or from either of the Private Bill Offices.

Bills before Parliament

Who decides if a petitioner can give evidence to a Select Committee?

In the House of Commons, the Court of Referees decide whether a petitioner can give evidence to a Select Committee on a Bill (if their right to do so is challenged by the Promoters of that Bill).

In the House of Lords, the decision is made by the Select Committee on a Bill when it first meets.