Presentation and withdrawal of petitions

44.1All petitions in favour of, against, or otherwise relating to private bills are presented to the House by the petitioner, their agent or representative submitting them to the Private Bill Office. All such petitions are published on the Parliament website. Accordingly, in November 2017, Standing Order 172 which required that a copy of any petition so deposited had to be supplied by the agent for the petition to any interested party who applied and paid for it, not later than the day after that on which the application and payment was received, was repealed. Any petitioner may withdraw their petition by informing the Private Bill Office in writing that they wish to do so; and, where any such petition has been submitted by more than one person, any person named on the petition may withdraw from the petition by similarly informing the Private Bill Office.

Standing Order 192A was amended in November 2017 to remove the requirement that petitions require a signature.1

By long-standing practice, government departments do not petition either in favour of or against private bills. A report on a private bill may be made by any interested Minister and, if the committee on the bill thinks fit, a departmental officer may be heard in explanation of it.2 It has not been determined, however, whether or not a government department—more particularly one set up by statute—can petition Parliament.3


  1. 1. Votes and Proceedings, 7 November 2017.
  2. 2. See paras 45.15, 45.19, 45.22.
  3. 3. The Duchy of Cornwall petitioned against the Plymouth and South West Devon Water Bill 1969–70.