Parliament considers several types of bill.
- Government bills
- Members’ bills
- Local bills
- Private bills
The Government has a lawmaking programme so that it can act on its policies. As part of this programme, Government bills are prepared for Ministers to introduce to the House.The Government decides the order in which the House will consider Government bills.
Members who are not Government Ministers can put forward bills that are not part of the Government’s programme. These are called Members’ bills.
The House allocates its sitting time to Members’ bills every second Wednesday when the House is sitting. Because there are always more Members’ bills proposed than time to consider them, a ballot system is used to choose the bills that are introduced. The ballot may contain around 40 drafted bills, but only four may be available for first reading at any one time.
Few Members’ bills become laws though they may affect the Government’s lawmaking priorities if they attract sufficient support. For example the Government may decide to introduce its own more extensive bill with similar policy aims to a Member’s bill.
Local authorities may put forward a local bill to deal with specific issues in their area. For example, a local bill may ask Parliament to lift a land-use restriction or permit a land-use for a particular place that would normally be outside the law.
The local member of Parliament is likely to be the member in charge of a local bill.
Private bills are rare. They ask for a change to the law for the benefit of a particular person or group. They may relate to personal or business activities. A private bill’s promoter asks a member of Parliament to take charge of the bill as it passes through the House.