The House

How to use a Ten Minute Rule Bill

- Saqib Bhatti

Arriving in Westminste­r, you’re full of the idealism to change the world, one piece of legislatio­n at a time. While the idealism remains, you quickly come to realise there are more barriers than you might think. As a backbenche­r, it can be hard to push legislatio­n along. That’s where Ten Minute Rule Bills come in.

While ballot bills have the showbiz of the chairman of ways and means selecting your name in a tombola fashion, if you miss the chance to get selected, Ten Minute Rule Bills give you another bite of the cherry. The day after the fifth Wednesday of the session is the earliest you can apply for a Ten Minute Rule Bill.

If you’re successful you have, to paraphrase Andy Warhol, 10 minutes of fame; 10 minutes to outline your proposed bill. You’ll know how quickly the minutes fly by when speaking in the Chamber, so make sure you can cover everything you want in those 10 minutes.

After you’ve set out your stall, another Member can set out their opposition. It’s then followed by a division. This is where your bill will either fight to see another day or fall at the first hurdle. Any Private Members’ Bill will need to get support from the government, otherwise it’s likely to fall. So it’s crucial you lay the groundwork beforehand to ensure you have as much support as possible.

If the bill isn’t rejected at First Reading, you might still struggle to get it debated again. As the government controls the vast majority of the parliament­ary calendar, Private Members’ Bills only have precedence over government business on 13 Fridays each session. Even then, on the first seven Fridays allocated to Private Members’ Bills, ballot bills are given priority.

Don’t be dishearten­ed, though. Ten Minute Rule Bills are a good way to shine a spotlight on an issue, regardless. You have10 minutes of fame. Make them count.

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