Proceedings on hybrid bills

30.57Hybrid bills are public bills which are considered to affect specific private or local interests, in a manner different from the private or local interests of other persons or bodies of the same category, so as to attract the provisions of the standing orders relating to private business1 (see paras 42.242.3, 43.2, 46.3–46.5 ). Such bills are subject in both Houses to certain proceedings additional to the normal stages in the passing of public bills.

The Speaker has defined a hybrid bill as ‘a public bill which affects a particular private interest in a manner different from the private interest of other persons or bodies of the same category or class’.2 It is rare for public bills to be objected to on the ground that they ought to have been private bills,3 but it is not uncommon for objection to be taken that they ought to be treated as hybrid bills and ought to be referred accordingly to the Examiners under the procedure described below in relation to each House.

As such objections of their nature arise from particular cases it is not easy to define the ground on which such objections have been sustained or overruled.4 A bill has not been regarded as hybrid if all the persons or bodies affected by it, and no others, belong to a category or class germane to the subject-matter of the bill5 and it is not the practice to treat as hybrid, bills dealing with matters of public policy whereby private rights over large areas or of a whole class are affected.6 A bill which sought to transfer compulsorily only certain canals, however, to a central canal trust7 and a bill in which one company was not proposed to be nationalised although it fulfilled the qualifying conditions8 have been ruled to be hybrid.

A class must be defined by reference to criteria germane to the subject-matter of the bill.9 The subject of legislation may form a class of its own without necessarily rendering a bill prima facie hybrid. Thus, bills providing, for example, either separately or exclusively for London or for the Port of London Authority or for the City of London have, depending on their subject-matter, been ruled not to be prima facie hybrid10 (cf paras 42.442.5 ). A bill relating to a privately-owned company in the nuclear generating industry, a class the only other member of which was a publicly-owned company which was not adversely affected by the bill, has been ruled not to be prima facie hybrid.11

Footnotes

  1. 1. For a consideration of the difference between public and private bills, see paras 26.2, 42.1-42.11.
  2. 2. HC Deb (1962–63) 669, c 45.
  3. 3. See Erskine May (21st edn, 1989), pp 807–8.
  4. 4. See the Speaker's ruling on the House of Lords Reform Bill of 2012–13, HC Deb (9 July 2012) 548, c 23.
  5. 5. HC Deb (1966–67) 732, cc 1221–23; Certificate from the Examiners relating to the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill and Statement of Reasons therefor, HL 71 (1976–77) pp 11–12.
  6. 6. The Railways Bill in 1921 (which amalgamated the main existing railways companies with larger companies), the Electricity (Supply) Bills of 1926 and 1934–35 and the Iron and Steel Bill of 1948–49 were all ruled to be matters of public policy and to treat alike the various classes of interests affected by the bills, HC Deb (1921) 142, cc 42–44; ibid (1926) 193, cc 1683–89; ibid (1934) 295, cc 1021–27; ibid (1948–49) 458, cc 47–51. See also London Government Bill 1962–63 (HC Deb (1962–63) 669, cc 45–48); certain clauses of the Finance Bill 1966–67 (HC Deb (1966–67) 729, cc 297–301).
  7. 7. CJ (1905) 201, 210, 214–216. Another bill was similarly introduced but with somewhat different provisions and to this standing orders were held not to apply, CJ (1905) 289, 327.
  8. 8. HC Deb (1975–76) 912, cc 299–305, 445.
  9. 9. HC Deb (1966–67) 732, cc 1215–23; ibid (1987–88) 123, c 770.
  10. 10. See eg London Government Bill 1962–63 and the special exceptions therein for the City; HC Deb (1983–84) 60, cc 1150–51; ibid (1986–87) 108, c 37.
  11. 11. Electricity (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2003, HC Deb (2002–03) 398, c 581.