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Procedure Committee inquires into private Members' bills

7 January 2016

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 review the use of presentation Bills and Bills introduced under the ‘ten-minute rule' (Standing Order No. 23).

Terms of reference

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.

Deadline for submissions

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.

The Committee will also seek to take oral evidence on these issues from present and former members of the House and other interested parties.

Further information

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