Private Members' bills - Procedure Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Timing of debate

1.  We recommend that thirteen Fridays a year continue to be appointed for consideration of private Members' bills. (Paragraph 24)

Choice of bills to be debated in private Members' time

2.  We recommend that the House be invited to decide between retention of the ballot for the selection of bills to be brought forward for debate in private Members' time, and the introduction of a procedure for the collection of supporters to determine precedence for debate in that time. (Paragraph 31)

Timetabling of private Members' bills

3.  We recommend that the House be invited to decide whether it should be possible to programme private Members' bills. If it decides in favour of the principle of programming private Members' bills, we recommend that it be offered the choice between the two means of programming bills which we set out [in paragraphs 35-49]. (Paragraph 50)

Third reading

4.  We recommend that the House be invited to decide whether third reading of a private Member's bill should be taken on a day other than a Friday; and if so, which of the two alternative means we propose of taking such a vote it favours. (Paragraph 53)

Speech limits

5.  Acceptance of our proposals for the programming of private Members' bills would enable the Chair to invoke the powers granted by Standing Order No. 47 to impose speech limits during debate on such bills. (Paragraph 59)

Pre-legislative scrutiny

6.  We recommend that there should be sufficient flexibility in the timing of the ballot and the presentation of the ballot bills—or the votes on leave to bring in bills—to enable the House authorities to publish those bills in draft, and the promoter of each bill to collect any comments and take them into account before finalising the text of the bill and getting it printed before second reading. We consider that that period should be at least four weeks. (Paragraph 61)

Listing of bills on the Order Paper

7.  We consider that what appears on the Order Paper should be only actual bills which a private Member desires that the House should debate. (Paragraph 66)

8.  We recommend that the order for second reading of a bill not appear on the Order Paper until the Speaker is satisfied that the promoter of the bill has made available for online publication an exposure draft of an actual Bill. (Paragraph 67)

9.  This recommendation would alter only what appears on the Order Paper under "future business". We do not recommend any alteration to the rules for determining priority for debate on a private Member's Friday. The Public Bill Office would continue to maintain a list of bills set down for particular days, and a bill set down before another which was published as an exposure draft before it would regain its place ahead of that bill once it was published as an exposure draft itself. (Paragraph 68)

10.  We recognise a danger that the result of this recommendation would not be the removal from the Order Paper of bills which are unlikely ever to be debated, but rather the publication online of exposure drafts of more bills which will never make progress. This would not be a good use of the resources of the Public Bill Office, which would be likely to bear the brunt of Members' requests to draft bills. If the evidence were to show that this was happening, we would consider the matter further. (Paragraph 69)

11.  We further recommend that Future Business list private Members' bills only when they have been set down for a day on which private Member's bills have precedence. (Paragraph 70)

Ten minute rule bills

12.  We recommend that the expectation be removed that a bill will be immediately brought in if leave is granted after a motion is passed under the ten minute rule. (Paragraph 72)

Flooding the Order Paper with bills

13.  We recommend that the possibility of a monopoly of the limited opportunities for debate of private Members' bills by a single Member be reduced by providing that a private Member may present only a single bill on any one day. (Paragraph 76)

Declaring the Government position on a bill

14.  We recommend that the Government be required to make a written Ministerial statement on any private Member's bill which has been printed, before the day on which the Bill is first set down on the effective Order Paper for second reading. (Paragraph 77)

Deadline for printing of bills

15.  We recommend that the deadline for printing a bill—that is, producing a fully drafted piece of legislation, in place of a "long title"—be brought forward to the Wednesday of the week prior to the day of second reading. (Paragraph 78)

Money and ways and means resolutions

16.  We recommend that the Government be required to make a written Ministerial statement on the reasons for the delay if a money or ways and means resolution, where required, has not been put to the House within three weeks of a bill being given a second reading. (Paragraph 80)

Motion for the House to sit in private

17.  We recommend that a motion 'That the House sit in private' no longer be permitted to be moved on a private Member's Friday. (Paragraph 83)

Public bill committees on private Members' bills

18.  We recommend that the requirement be abolished for a motion to be tabled by the Government before a public bill committee in respect of a private Member's bill may be nominated while proceedings in another public bill committee on a private Member's bill are still active. (Paragraph 84)

Name of private Members' bills

19.  We recommend that, in the Standing Orders and elsewhere where reference is made to them, the term "private Members' bills" be replaced with "backbench bills". (Paragraph 85)

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Prepared 2 September 2013