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Private Members’ Bills

Volume 556: debated on Thursday 17 January 2013

6. What recent consideration he has given to the procedure for private Members’ Bills; and if he will make a statement. (137527)

Hon. Members will be aware that the Procedure Committee is undertaking an inquiry into the procedure for private Members’ Bills. My hon. Friend gave evidence to the Committee yesterday and raised a number of issues relating to the timing procedures and motivation for private Members’ Bills. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will give evidence on behalf of the Government in due course.

As a tool for prompting dialogue and discussion or for the furtherance of a parliamentary campaign, private Members’ Bills are really useful, but many Members think that the way in which Friday sittings work is little short of a farce. Should programming and the tools used for Government legislation be applied to private Members’ legislation, to enable votes to take place and more legislation to be passed?

Many Members have experienced some frustrations regarding the private Members’ Bill process. I know that the hon. Gentleman has made a suggestion to the Procedure Committee along the lines of his question, but he will be aware that existing procedures of the House allow for a closure to be sought on debates and to impose time limits on speeches. He will be aware that sometimes when a Member presents a private Member’s Bill there will be other ways of ensuring that it is reflected in Government legislation, in the way that his proposed measures on children and families will be reflected in that Bill.