In 2016 the Private Bill Offices of the House of Commons and the House of Lords jointly conducted a review of the petitioning procedure for Hybrid Bills. As part of the first phase of implementation of the review, the Chairman of Ways and Means has published a paper of proposed changes the main objective is to improve the petitioning process from the point of view of the petitioner.
The paper sets out a package of changes to the Private Business Standing Orders to:
- allow the electronic submission of petitions;
abolish the requirement for petitions against a bill to include a signature;
- remove references to “praying”;
- enable a minimum petitioning period to be set for hybrid bills;
- clarify the procedure for dealing with late petitions;
- enable a select committee appointed to consider petitions against a private or hybrid bill to group petitions and also, in appropriate cases, to consider petitions by way of written submission only;
- modernise the language of the Standing Orders by replacing references to “locus standi” with the concept of the right to have a petition considered;
- give certain Members of Parliament the right to have their petitions considered; and
- abolish the concept of Roll B agent.
At the request of the Government, we also propose to use this round of Standing Order changes to:
- allow bill documentation to be deposited in electronic form;
- require an environmental statement, where required, to include a report on the reasonable alternatives to the works authorised by the bill; and
- to update the reference to EU regulations in PrBSO 27A.
These changes are part of the first phase of implementation of the Hybrid Bill Review, which it is hoped will be in place before Second Reading of the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill. A more fundamental look at the Standing Orders for Private Business and Hybrid Bills will follow in the second phase.
If you have any feedback on these proposals please do get in touch by contacting the House of Commons Private Bill Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7219 6008 by Wednesday 18 October.
The High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill Select Committee (Commons) on HS2 Phase One made a number of suggestions for reform of Hybrid Bill procedure, which can be found in Chapter 8 of its final report.
That report, and the Committee's earlier, interim report, explain in detail what Hybrid Bills are, and what they do.
Find out more about petitioning against Private Bills, Roll B agents, and Private Bill Procedure