3RD REPORT OF SESSION
2013-14 FROM THE PROCEDURE COMMITTEE|
Private members' bills
1. The number of Lords private members' bills
introduced in the House has increased substantially over the past
few sessions, resulting in an increased demand for the time made
available for second readings.
2. The Legislation Office organises the order
in which private members' bills are introduced with the agreement
of the members concerned. In the absence of any other system agreed
by the House, it operates a "first come, first served"
system, arranging the introduction of bills in the order in which
members approached the Legislation Office for assistance in preparing
them, irrespective of the session. To avoid holding up the business
of the House too long the Legislation Office operates on the basis
that no more than five private members' bills are introduced on
any one day.
3. In the last few sessions, the number of private
members' bills introduced in the days immediately after State
Opening has exceeded the number that are likely to receive a second
reading that session. As the slots made available for second reading
have over the course of recent sessions generally reflected the
order in which private members' bills were introduced, members
frequently now approach the Legislation Office early in a session
in order to reserve an early first reading after The Queen's Speech
in the following session.
4. In the light of the current volume of private
members' bills, we have considered whether the time has come to
establish a formal and transparent mechanism for determining the
order of first readings at the start of a session.
5. We propose the introduction of a ballot on
the day of State Opening to determine the order in which private
members' bills handed in on the day of State Opening receive their
first readings on subsequent days. The process would be as follows:
· To enter the ballot, a member must hand
in a final text of their bill to the Legislation Office on the
day of State Opening before the rise of the House.
The bill would be automatically entered into the ballot.
· A member may not submit for entry to the
ballot a bill of identical or substantially similar effect to
a bill already entered for the ballot.
· A member may only use the first reading
'slot', as determined by the ballot, to introduce the bill which
they entered into the ballot.
· If a member turns down their first reading
'slot', then everybody below them would move up one place in the
queue for first readings. Members may not give up their place
in the queue to another member of their choosing. Members may
however, as now, ask another member to move the first reading
on their behalf if they are unable to attend the House on the
day scheduled for the first reading of their bill.
6. Members would still be able to consult the
Legislation Office about the drafting of their bill at any time.
Indeed, it would be desirable for members to have consulted the
Legislation Office during the previous session before handing
in their bill on the day of State Opening.
7. The ballot will have no effect on private
members' bills handed in to the Legislation Office after the day
of State Opening, though they would receive their first readings
after those entered into the ballot. It would remain every member's
right to introduce a bill at any stage of the session.
8. A number of members have already approached
the Legislation Office with the intention of securing an early
first reading in the 2014-15 session. We therefore propose that
the first ballot be held at the start of the new Parliament, and
not the next session.
9. We recommend the adoption, from the start
of the next Parliament, of a ballot to determine the order in
which private members' bills handed in on the day of State Opening
receive their first readings on subsequent days. The ballot would
be governed by the procedures set out in paragraph five above.
10. Should this recommendation be agreed to,
the next edition of the Companion would be amended as follows:
Insert after paragraph 8.12 the following new paragraph:
"8.12A At the start of each session, a ballot
is conducted to determine the order in which private members'
bills handed in on the day of State Opening receive their first
readings on subsequent days. To enter the ballot, a member must
hand in the final text of the bill to the Legislation Office on
the day of State Opening before the rise of the House. It is desirable
for a member who wishes to enter the ballot to discuss the draft
with the Office well before the day of State Opening. A member
may not submit for entry to the ballot a bill of identical or
substantially similar effect to a bill already entered for the
Debates on Select Committee reports
11. We have agreed that Questions for Short Debate
relating to reports from investigative select committees should
be eligible both for entry into the ballot for the weekly topical
Question for Short Debate (subject to the same criteria, including
that in respect of topicality, as other entries), and for debate
during extended Grand Committee sittings devoted solely to 1-hour
backbench Questions for Short Debate. If a Select Committee report
is debated in either manner, it should not be expected that time
will be made available for a further debate on the same report.
1 This can be done electronically, by post or in person.