Private members' bills

Private members' bills can be introduced in either house and must go through the same stages as public bills.

Private Members' Bills can be introduced in either House and must go through the same stages as Public Bills. They are introduced by MPs and Lords who are not government ministers. Because not as much time is allocated to Private Members' Bills they are less likely to become law. The Private Members' Bill must be given a short and long title and can be introduced in three ways in the House of Commons:

  • The Ballot:

  • The Ten Minute Rule:

  • Presentation.

Ballot Bills are most likely to become law, the name comes from the fact that Members applying for a Bill have their names drawn in a ballot and the first seven or so names to be drawn are likely to have their bills debated.

Ten Minute Rule Bills allow Members to speak for just 10 minutes in which time they can outline their Bill. In reality the Bill is unlikely to be passed but it gives the Member the opportunity to raise an interest in an issue and gauge how much support he has in the House.

Presentation Bills can be introduced by any Member who has notified the House of their intention to introduce it. The title of the Bill is read out but no time is allowed for the Member to speak about it and it is rare for them to become law.

Private Members' Bills from the Lords will follow the same procedure as all other Public Bills and will proceed to the Commons, if it gains the support of an MP, where it will be treated in the same way as Private Members' Bills. They rarely succeed as they are not given priority over Bills introduced in the Commons.

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill 2016-17 is a good example of a Private Members' Bill introduced under the Ten Minute Rule and of some of the hurdles such Bills face. The Bill,amongst other matters, made provision for the circumstances in which the sexual history of a victim of rape or attempted rape may be introduced at a trial.

 

Campaigners have been complaining that the restrictions are supposed to restrict cross-examination of a rape victim's sexual history in court, but includes an exemption when dealing with 'similar facts' and this is said to amount to a loop hole in the law.  You may remember the concerns expressed over the Court of Appeal's decision permitting such evidence in the case of the footballer Ched Evans, who was acquitted of rape following a retrial.

 

This Bill received its first reading on the 8 February 2017 and was expected to have its second reading on Friday 12 May 2017 but in light of the forthcoming General Election and dissolution of Parliament from the 3 May 2017, the Bill falls and will be lost.

 

Find out more about the stages of a Bill

 

 

 

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