Private bills

46.1As a general rule, private bills are founded on a petition presented in the House of Commons.1 Petitions must be deposited in that House by 27 November, and a copy of each of the bills to which the petitions relate is deposited in the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments2 on or before the same day (Standing Order 38).3 On or before 8 January, the Senior Deputy Speaker (formerly known as the Chairman of Committees) or their Counsel confers with the Chairman of Ways and Means or his or her Counsel to apportion the bills between the two Houses (Standing Order 90). Half the bills are allotted to each House unless a different division would achieve a better distribution of private business between the two Houses4 (see para 43.13 ). The subsequent proceedings upon private bills in the two Houses are similar. These have already been described, so far as they relate to the House of Commons, in the previous chapter. So the present chapter describes only those points in which Lords procedure differs from that in the Commons. The standing orders of the two Houses relating to private business are now as nearly as possible the same; and amendments to those standing orders are drafted in concert.


  1. 1. Personal bills are an exception to this rule. For all exceptions, see para 44.3.
  2. 2. References in standing orders to the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments are interpreted in practice to mean the House of Lords Legislation Office, or the duty clerk in recesses.
  3. 3. References in this chapter to standing orders are to those of the House of Lords relating to private business unless stated otherwise.
  4. 4. For example, in 2009 both newly deposited bills originated in the House of Lords to counterbalance the number of existing private bills progressing through the House of Commons. In 2015, three of four deposited bills originated in the House of Lords because the High Speed Rail (London–West Midlands) Bill was still in select committee in the House of Commons.