Proceedings on ‘ten-minute rule bills' under Standing Order No 23
28.4Under the provisions of Standing Order No 23, notices of motions may be given by private Members1 for leave to bring in bills, referred to as ‘ten-minute rule bills' because the Member concerned is given ten minutes to speak to the motion. Notices may be set down for consideration at the commencement of public business2 on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.3 They are not part of the orders of the day and notices of motions (see para 19.31 ) which form the main business of the day, and accordingly are not subject to the rule4 that government business has precedence on those days. Under Standing Order No 23(2), the following rules apply to private Members' motions for leave to bring in bills under the Order:
- notices shall be given in the Public Bill Office, by the Member in person or by another Member on their behalf, but on any one day not more than one notice shall be accepted from any one Member;
- no notice shall be given for a day on which a notice of motion under this Order already stands on the paper;
- no notice shall be given for a day earlier than the fifth or later than the fifteenth sitting day after the day on which it is given;
- not more than one such notice shall stand on the paper in the name of any one Member for a day within any period of 15 sitting days; and
- no notice may be given for Budget Day.5
In addition, under Standing Order No 14(7), no private Member may give notice of a motion under Standing Order No 23 until after the fifth Wednesday on which the House sits during the session. This is to protect the priority on Private Members' Bills Fridays of bills introduced under the ballot (see para 28.7 ), which are presented on that Wednesday.
The normal rules as to what bills may contain apply (see paras 28.13 –28.17 ), so that, for example, a private Member may not move for leave to bring in a bill of which the main object is to create a charge by way of taxation or expenditure (see para 28.15 ), or of which the objects are substantially the same as those of a bill upon which the House has come to a decision in the current session (see para 28.17 ).6 It has been ruled by the Speaker that no names may be added to a motion for leave to bring in a bill, and that no one else may move it should the Member who tabled it be absent.7
After a brief explanatory statement8 of the purpose of the bill9 by the mover, the Speaker proposes the question. If any Members wish to oppose the motion, the Speaker then calls on one of them10 to make a brief explanatory statement of opposition. This statement must oppose the motion,11 though it need not necessarily lead to a division.12 In neither statement should cases in which proceedings are active in United Kingdom courts be referred to,13 and interventions by other Members are out of order, whether or not the Member speaking is willing to give way.14 The appropriate Minister is expected to be present for these proceedings.15
Under the Standing Order there is no provision for further debate,16 or for a Member to move any motion to adjourn the debate17 or for amendments18 to be moved. The Speaker thus normally at once puts the question on the motion for leave to introduce the bill, though he may in exceptional circumstances put instead the question that the debate be now adjourned,19 and in one case he has invited the mover to withdraw his motion.20
- 1. Ministers are permitted under the Standing Order to give notices of such motions for any day except Friday and such notices are not subject to the restrictions which apply to notices given by private Members. See for example CJ (1901) 280.
- 2. Other times have been prescribed by sessional orders, namely immediately before the motion for the adjournment of the House (CJ (1964–65) 422) and at morning sittings (CJ (1966–67) 290).
- 3. Exceptionally, the House has given leave for a private Member to give notice for a Thursday, see CJ (1975–76) 122, 132.
- 4. See SO No 14(1).
- 5. The Standing Order nonetheless provides that notices proposed to be given for such a day, or notices given for a day which is subsequently declared to be Budget Day, shall be treated as having been given for the Monday following Budget Day, and may be proceeded with on that day as if it were a Tuesday or Wednesday.
- 6. CJ (1840) 495; Parl Deb (1840) 55, c 553; HC Deb (1912) 38, c 1754.
- 7. Speaker's private ruling, 5 May 1967.
- 8. The Speaker defined this as a maximum of ten minutes, see HC Deb (1930–31) 252, c 1785.
- 9. The mover should explain what the bill will do, HC Deb (1987–88) 124, cc 1109–12; ibid (2008–09) 497, c 326; ibid (2009–10) 504, cc 319–20.
- 10. It is within the Speaker's discretion to call whom they wish, HC Deb (1964–65) 713, c 618.
- 11. See HC Deb (1966–67) 740, c 1568; ibid (1985–86) 99, c 1080; ibid (1987–88) 124, c 929; ibid (1990–91) 185, c 175.
- 12. HC Deb (1985–86) 97, c 565; ibid (1986–87) 115, c 318; ibid (1989–90) 167, c 948; ibid (2002–03) 412, c 803.
- 13. See the Resolution of the House of 15 November 2001 on matters sub judice (CJ (2001–02) 194–95) and para 21.19. See also HC Deb (1978–79) 960, c 665.
- 14. HC Deb (1984–85) 77, c 277; ibid (1992–93) 215, c 852; ibid (1998–99) 330, c 705; ibid (2005–06) 450, c 739. But see ibid (1968–69) 787, cc 417–18 where an intervention was permitted when the mover directly criticised another Member. See also ibid (1987–88) 133, c 322.
- 15. HC Deb (2003–04) 422, c 781.
- 16. See HC Deb (1983–84) 50, c 165.
- 17. HC Deb (1932–33) 278, c 361.
- 18. Parl Deb (1902) 113, c 249; ibid (1908) 190, c 1736; HC Deb (1938–39) 349, c 1120.
- 19. Parl Deb (1901) 97, c 868; ibid (1905) 148, c 388; ibid (1905) 149, cc 1195–96; HC Deb (1929–30) 235, cc 225–26; ibid (1932–33) 280, c 2601; ibid (1961–62) 654, c 430. If the debate is adjourned it must take its place among the orders of the day.
- 20. HC Deb (1957–58) 579, cc 1279–80. SO No 23 also permits notices of motions to be given for nominations (but not the appointment) of select committees, with the requirement under SO No 121 (Nomination of select committees) that, with certain exceptions, such motions must be made on behalf of the Committee of Selection. If given by private Members, such notices must be for Tuesdays and Wednesdays; if by a Minister, they can be for any day except a Friday. As with bills, only one speech for and one speech against the motion is permitted.