Personal bills

46.41Personal bills are private bills that relate to the ‘estate, property, status or style, or otherwise to the personal affairs of an individual’ (Standing Order 3). Such bills are now rare: none has been enacted since 1987.1

Petitions for leave to bring in a personal bill are presented to the House of Lords rather than the House of Commons. The promoters may deposit a petition, signed by one or more of the parties principally concerned in the consequences of the bill, together with a copy of the proposed bill, in the office of the Clerk of the Parliaments at any time during the session.2 The petition and draft bill are considered by the Senior Deputy Speaker and the Chairman of Ways and Means, who may certify that the proposed bill conforms to the description of a personal bill and that the standing orders relating to notices, dates of deposit, etc (Standing Orders 4–68) should not be applicable to it. The subsequent procedures in the Lords for personal bills are similar to those for other private bills except that personal bills are subject to Standing Orders 151–153, 157–170 and 173–174. For a fuller description of past practice see Erskine May (21st edn, 1989), pp 942–46.


  1. 1. The number of personal bills was greatly reduced by the passing of the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986, which relaxed the prohibitions on many previously prohibited marriages.
  2. 2. SO 153.