What is a Private Members’ bill?

Author:
Peter Smart, former Lakeman Fellow

Posted on the 20th October 2022

One of the most noteworthy ways that MPs can push their agendas is through the Private Members’ Bill. Here’s a quick analysis on some of the key features of Private Members’ Bill.

Private Members’ bills are legislation introduced by MPs and peers who are not government ministers. They can technically be passed and come into law but they rarely do so. Instead, they typically aim to, draw attention to a certain issue, gather support from other members of the house and influence government legislation.

There are three ways to introduce a Private Member’s bill: the Ballot, Ten Minute Rule and Presentation.

In the Ballot, members wishing to put forward a bill put their name into a ballot box which is then drawn from on the second sitting Thursday of a parliamentary session. Members whose names are drawn will then have the opportunity to give a first reading of the bill.

A Ten Minute Rule bill is a type of Private Members bill in which MPs are given the opportunity to make a ten minute speech on a piece of legislation they’d like to pass through Parliament. After an MP makes their ten minute speech another MP will have the opportunity to make an opposing speech before the House decides whether the bill should be introduced.

During a Presentation Private Members’ bill a member may introduce the title of a bill but it is not allowed to be debated on. An example of a Presentation title would be: A Bill to require the Leader of the House of Commons to move a Motion prohibiting Members of Parliament having paid second jobs; and for connected purposes.

Private Members’ bills are debated on thirteen Fridays per parliamentary session. Private Member bills are given priority over government bills on these Fridays, but with so many bills there is not enough time in each parliamentary session for many individual bills to go through the required phases to become law. The House of Commons Library has a briefing on successful Private Members Bills.

If you would like to see an example of a Private Member’s bill, here’s Jonathon Reynolds MP’s 10 Minute Rule Bill on proportional representation.

 

If you would like to find out what Private Members’ bills are being debated in Parliament you can find them here on certain Fridays.

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