Constituents often ask me to support Ten Minute Rule Bills or Private Members’ Bills.
Ten Minute Rule Bills are where backbench MPs get ten minutes to propose a bill to change the law.
MP’s enter a ballot for Private Members’ Bills, but few have much chance of becoming law. They are debated on 13 Fridays a year when government backbenchers talk out or vote down the bill. The exception is a “handout” bill, which the government gives to a compliant backbencher, which then succeeds with government support. Few make it that far.
Last Friday neither Kerry McCarthy’s Food Waste Bill nor Mike Kane’s Mesothelioma Bill even got to be debated. Unsurprisingly, most MPs prefer working in their constituency to the frustration of Friday sittings.
The Procedure Committee is looking at ways of shifting the balance of power from the government towards MPs. It could make sure a vote happens at the end of the debate. Time for Private Members’ Bills could be found during the week when more MPs are around. The government could also lose the power to deny a money resolution, which most bills need and which was how the Affordable Homes Bill and second EU Referendum Bill were stopped.
The government’s business currently before the House is pretty thin. Maybe MPs could use the time more productively.