The Procedure Committee which I sit on has a announced the terms of reference of a new Inquiry it is to carry out on the procedure relating to Private Members Bills. These are bills intended to change the existing law or bring in an entirely new law which are brought forward not by the government of the day but by any backbench MP. They are only debated on certain Fridays in the year. As I often receive criticism for the way private members bills are handled this is your chance to make your views known. Full details of how to do this are in the formal announcement which I have set out below:
Procedure Committee to inquire into private Members’ bills
The Procedure Committee has decided to look at the procedures and practices of the House relating to private Member’s bills, in the light of the work undertaken by the predecessor Committee in the 2013-14 Session.
This short inquiry will review the package of proposals adopted by the predecessor Committee in 2014, with a view to making recommendations for the present House to consider. The legislative process for bills introduced on Fridays by backbench Members successful in the ballot will be the primary focus, but the Committee will also review the use of presentation Bills and Bills introduced under the ‘ten-minute rule’ (Standing Order No. 23).
Issues to be examined by the Committee include:
· Whether the present procedures provide for an adequate balance between the right of a backbench Member to secure progress for a bill which has support in the House and the rights of individual Members to block the passage of legislation with which they disagree.
· Whether it is appropriate for Ministers to use the existing procedures of the House to prevent the progress of bills which have support in the House.
· Whether the present powers of the Chair to impose time limits on speeches in the interests of the progress of business should be used in respect of private Members’ bills.
· Whether the existing ballot arrangements which give certain Members the opportunity to sponsor bills at Second Reading and beyond are appropriate.
· Whether private Members’ bills should continue to be considered on certain Fridays, and, if not, what other arrangements might be made for consideration of such bills on the floor of the House or elsewhere.
· How the practice on moving motions ‘That the House sit in private’ (invariably used tactically on sitting Fridays) should be reformed.
The Committee invites short written submissions (no more than 3,000 words) addressing one or more of the issues above. The deadline for receipt of submissions is Friday 19 February 2016.
Submissions should be made electronically using the inquiry evidence portal at:
The Committee will also seek to take oral evidence on these issues from present and former members of the House and other interested parties.