Private Members' Bill ballot

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29.6A ballot is conducted to determine the order of Private Members' Bills to be introduced at the beginning of each session in accordance with the following procedure. The ballot is held two working days after State Opening. Members submit a long and short title to the Legislation Office by 4 pm on the previous working day (i.e. the day after State Opening), but a full text is not necessary. Ballot entries may be submitted before State Opening. No more than 25 bills are drawn from the ballot. Two bills are introduced each sitting day in the order that they are drawn, beginning a week after the ballot. Bills and any Explanatory Notes are published in order of introduction, subject to readiness and not necessarily straight after introduction. A bill may be published with a long title which is wider than the scope of the bill, but not vice versa.1

A Member who wishes to enter the ballot should discuss drafting with the Legislation Office well before the day of State Opening. A Member may enter only one bill into the ballot, and a Member may not submit for entry to the ballot a bill of identical or substantially similar effect to a bill already entered. A Member may use a first reading ‘slot’ determined by the ballot to introduce only the bill entered into the ballot. The ‘slot’ may not be handed to another Member.

After all the first reading slots allocated by the ballot have been taken or lapsed, Members may introduce bills in the usual way. Such bills are prepared for introduction on a first come, first served basis, with a queue opening at 10 am the working day after the last ballot bill is published (or not proceeded with), and introduced when ready for publication.

There is no procedural distinction between government bills sponsored by a Minister and those introduced by Private Members' Bills of the House, save in respect of carry-over, human rights and environmental law statements, and third reading statements about legislative consent. In practice, the House normally accords priority to proceedings on government bills except where Private Members' Bills are not expected to give rise to debate. But there is no concept of government or Private Members' ‘time’ in the Lords, nor any specific time when government or Private Members' Bills are taken.


  1. 1. Procedure and Privileges Committee, Seventh Report of Session 2019–21, Private Members' Bills ballots, Extending Secretary of State's questions, HL 237, agreed by the Lords 15 March 2021, HC Deb (2019–21) 811, cc 15–16.