Time for taking private business

19.11The time for private business must end not later than a quarter of an hour after the House sits.1 Business still under discussion at that time stands adjourned.2 Any private business not reached by that time, or in respect of which, when it is called, no motion is made, stands over to the next sitting at the time for private business. A motion which is contingent on a bill not reached within the time allowed follows the bill and is similarly set down for the next sitting. But a motion which is not contingent on a bill and is not reached lapses unless fresh notice is given by the Member in whose name it stands. Any item of private business to which a Member signifies objection when the order for its consideration is read by the Clerk (or, if it is a notice of motion, when the name of the mover is called by the Speaker), becomes opposed and cannot be taken at this time. Opposed business also includes any proceedings on a private bill which have already been deferred to which notice of an amendment stands on the notice paper in the form of a notice of motion on second reading, consideration or third reading of the bill. Such motions do not remain on the paper for more than seven days unless renewed.3

Such an item of opposed business is accordingly postponed (by implication by order of the House) to another day. The Chairman of Ways and Means, with whom the discretion rests, may appoint a future day for its consideration without stating the time at which it is to be taken. In that event, it is taken at the commencement of the appointed sitting under the procedure laid down by private business Standing Orders 190 and 218, as described above. Alternatively, the Chairman may appoint it, under Standing Order No 20 and Standing Order 174, for consideration on a stated day for a time three hours before the moment of interruption: 7 pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, 4 pm on Wednesdays, and 2 pm on Thursdays,4 although in practice the timing of opposed private business is nearly always regulated by a Business of the House order (see para 19.38 ). Whichever course is adopted, the item of private business objected to becomes an entry ‘By Order’ in the notice paper of private business.

When the order for the consideration of an item of private business has been read by the Clerk, the Chairman, instead of moving it, may appoint a future day for its consideration. In this case also, the item becomes an entry ‘By Order’ on the notice paper of private business, since this postponement is also by implication by order of the House.5


  1. 1. SO No 20(1).
  2. 2. CJ (1941–42) 29 and HC Deb (1991–92) 376, cc 2045–48.
  3. 3. SO 174(2).
  4. 4. CJ (2001–02) 779, 780, 783.
  5. 5. When the consideration of private business had been interrupted, or had not been commenced, owing to a message requiring the attendance of the House in the House of Lords, and the House had not returned until after the time during which such business could be taken, the private business that could not be considered owing to the attendance of the House in the House of Lords was set down for the following day, CJ (1905) 249, Private Business (1905) 567, 577; CJ (1921) 115, Private Business (1921) 183, 187. Similarly, the private business of which notice had been given for Friday 12 March 1954 was set down again for Monday 15 March when the sitting of 11 March was prolonged beyond 11 am on 12 March, and on 5 August 1980 private business set down for a Tuesday was set down for the following day because of a prolonged sitting, Private Business (1953–54) 93, 95; ibid (1979–80) 544–45.