Private bills affect particular groups, people or places in a different way from others. For example, they might affect some local councils but not others.
They are different from public bills, which apply to everyone and affect all people in the same way, and hybrid bills, which apply generally but also have particular effect on specific groups, people or places. They are also different from Private Members’ Bills, which are a type of public bill introduced by backbenchers (MPs who are not ministers). There are usually only a few private bills each year.
Organisations, individuals or companies introduce private bills to seek powers to do something they can’t do under the general law. Members of the public who would be directly affected by a private bill can argue against it. They do this by petitioning to reject or change the bill.
Private bills can start in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords. They must go through a series of stages in both to become law. The stages are broadly the same as for public bills.
You can check the progress of a private bill on Bills before Parliament on Parliament’s website. Choose “Private Bills” from the drop-down menu. On each bill’s page, you can get a copy of the bill, explanatory notes, any amendments, and other documents including Hansard transcripts. These documents are also available in hard copy from the Vote Office.
Private bills are governed by a different set of rules (known as Private Business Standing Orders) to public bills. There are different Standing Orders in each House.
The Private Bill Office can help with questions about private bills.