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Private Members' Bills in the Chamber

There are 13 days set aside for Private Members’ Bills in each session. A session starts with the Queen’s Speech. If your name is drawn in the Private Member’s Bill ballot, you and 19 more MPs will present your bill on the fifth Wednesday of the session.

When you present your bill, the Speaker will ask you “second reading what day?” and you will need to name one of the available Fridays. These are listed in House of Commons calendar available from the Vote Office. If it hasn’t been printed yet, the Public Bill Office will be able to advise you on dates.

If you are first MP to name a particular Friday, your bill will be the first one on the Order Paper that day. This means you will potentially have a full day (the 5 hours from 9.30am to 2.30pm on Fridays) to debate your bill at its second reading. The first seven of the 13 days are set aside for second readings of Private Members’ Bills, so if you are not in the top seven bills, your bill is likely to be the second or third listed for the day you’ve chosen. You don’t have to name the first available day, but it may be in your best interests to do so because if your bill gets its second reading it will be ahead of bills debated on later dates.

After the days for second readings are done, there are “remaining stages’ Fridays. On these, bills that are awaiting report stage or third reading take priority over those awaiting second reading. Bills are taken in order of how far they have got through the parliamentary process (although a bill that hasn’t started its report stage takes precedence over one where the report stage has been started and adjourned).

Debate on Private Members’ Bills can continue until the moment of interruption (the point at which the main business of the day usually has to finish: it’s 2.30 pm on a Friday). The Speaker or Deputy Speaker will then say “Order, order”. If no one has called a vote on your bill, you will be asked to name another day to continue the debate on whatever stage your bill has reached. If other bills are already ahead of you on the Order Paper on the day you name, your bill is not likely to progress further. On the last of the 13 days allocated for Private Members’ Bills, all the remaining bills are listed on the Order Paper. The first will be debated, but most of the others are likely not to be. Those not agreed that day all expire, meaning that they won’t become law.

Ten-Minute Rule or Presentation Bills have less chance of being fully debated than Ballot Bills because of lack of available time and because the 20 Ballot Bills are presented first and therefore take the first slots on second reading days.

Contact an expert

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Clerk of Private Members' Bills