Private Members' bills: observations on the Government response Contents


Prioritising certain bills on merit

1.We repeat our recommendation that Standing Orders be amended to provide that the Backbench Business Committee shall determine up to four bills, to be set down as first order of business on the earliest sitting Fridays adopted by the House; and that a ballot then be held to determine Members to bring forward additional private Members’ bills, up to the total number of such bills to be allocated priority in each session. (Paragraph 14)

Consequences for the Backbench Business Committee

2.We recommend that the Standing Orders should be amended to provide for the Chair and the Members of the Backbench Business Committee to continue in post after a prorogation until the date of election and appointment of the next Chair and Members in the new session. (Paragraph 17)

Guaranteed vote on second reading

3.We recommend that the House should explicitly approve the use of Standing Order No. 47 by the Chair on days where private Members’ bills have precedence in line with current practice in other debates, including backbench debates.
(Paragraph 23)

Number of ballot bills

4.We invite the House to agree a resolution that the Speaker may exercise his discretion over the number of Members to be drawn in the ballot. (Paragraph 28)

Other proposals

5.We repeat our recommendation that the Standing Orders be amended to permit that a private Member may present only a single bill on any one day.
(Paragraph 30)

6.In response to the evidence we received relating to the incomprehensibility to the general public of the process, we recommended that the term ‘Private Members’ Bills’ be replaced with “backbench bills”. We believe that the term ‘backbencher’ is more easily understood than ‘private Member’ and will therefore go some way in helping the public to understand the purpose of the process. This is not a matter for the Government, it is a matter for the House. Accordingly, we repeat our recommendation that, in the Standing Orders and elsewhere where reference is made to them, the term “Private Members’ Bills” be replaced with “backbench bills”. (Paragraph 31)

7.We recommended 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 its Second Reading. We maintain this recommendation. (Paragraph 33)

8.We recommend that the House has an opportunity to agree to our proposals on the formal introduction of ten minute rule bills and the listing of bills set down for a future day by endorsing motions to enable them. (Paragraph 34)

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14 October 2016