The higher you are on the list, the more likely you will be contacted by many people and organisations with ideas for your bill. The choice is yours, as long as the main purpose of your bill is not to create a tax or cause Government spending.
Sometimes, ministers will agree that you may present ‘handout’ bills, written by Government lawyers (Parliamentary Counsel). If you accept the offer of a ‘handout’ bill, you can ask Parliamentary Counsel to act on your behalf for some parts of the bill. You stay in charge of the bill as a whole.
When you have a bill in mind, you need a short title (its name) and a long title (a description of what it does). For example, one of the bills from the 2017 ballot had a short title of “Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill” and a long title of:
“Bill to make provision about offences when perpetrated against emergency workers, and persons assisting such workers; to make certain offences aggravated when perpetrated against such workers in the exercise of their duty; to require persons suspected of certain assaults against such workers which may pose a health risk to provide intimate samples and to make it an offence, without reasonable excuse, to refuse to provide such samples; and for connected purposes.”
The Clerk of Private Members’ Bills can help with the wording of titles, and you can also get help from outside organisations.
Once you have agreed the title of your bill with the Clerk of Private Members’ Bills, it can be put on the Future Business section of the Order Paper. You will need to present your bill for first reading on the fifth Wednesday of the session. This is a formal stage, with no debate. Ballot Bills, unlike the other types of Private Members’ Bills, can be presented by another MP on your behalf if you give notice of this in advance.
When you present your bill, the Speaker will ask you, “Second reading what day?” The Clerk of Private Members’ Bills can tell you which days have been allocated to Private Members’ Bills. You can choose any of these days for your second reading. If your bill is the first on the Order Paper for the day you choose, it will definitely be debated. If it is second or third on the Order Paper, it can be debated only after those before it have been dealt with, and it might not be debated at all if time runs out.
Once you have named a date for your second reading, you will need to write the text of the bill. The Clerk of Private Members’ Bills can offer advice on how to do this.
You can find out more about the next stages and how Private Members’ Bill Fridays work in the section on Private Members’ Bills in the Chamber.
You can watch a video of Ballot Bills being presented in the Chamber: