Publications / Guides

What is a Ten Minute Rule Bill?

Debate in the House of Commons Chamber, 31 January 2022. (©UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor)
Debate in the House of Commons Chamber, 31 January 2022. (©UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor)

Ten Minute Rule Bills are essentially policy aims put into legislative language in order to secure a 10-minute speaking slot during 'primetime' in the House of Commons Chamber after Question Time on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (but not on Budget day).

Last updated: 4 May 2022 Under Standing Order No.23, MPs may move a motion to bring in a Ten Minute Rule Bill (TMRB) by giving notice to the Public Bill Office between five and 15 sitting days beforehand.

However, under Standing Order No. 14(11), notice of a motion for a TMRB cannot be made until after the fifth Wednesday of the session, in order to protect the priority given to Ballot Bills on PMB sitting Fridays (the fifth Wednesday being the day usually set aside for First Reading - introduction - of Ballot Bills).

Only one TMRB can be presented each day. The opportunities are allocated by the Whips with slots divided up between the parties according to their share of representation in the House.

The MP moving a 10 Minute Rule Bill is permitted 10 minutes to make his or her case, after which a Member opposed to the bill has a similar amount of time to state his or her objections. Interventions are not permitted.

If no MP indicates to the Speaker that they wish to oppose the bill then it is introduced without a vote.

If an MP does oppose the bill, then, following the two speeches, the Speaker will put the Question (whether the MP should have leave to bring in the bill). If no MP objects, then the bill is introduced without a vote. But if an MP objects (by saying 'No') then a vote will be required. In the event of a vote, the MP promoting the TMRB must provide the names of two tellers (MPs who count the votes) for the 'Aye' lobby.

If the House supports the bill then the MP promoting it must go to the bar of the House with a 'dummy bill' (provided by the Public Bill Office), bow towards the Speaker's chair, walk five paces and bow again, before bowing a third and final time before the ceremonial Mace. He or she must then present the 'dummy bill' to the Clerk at the Table.

The Clerk will read the short title of the bill and the Speaker will ask the MP "2nd Reading what day?" The MP will give the day (s)he has chosen and the 10 Minute Rule Bill will then be added to the queue of other Private Members' Bills listed for debate on that day.

The bill need not be printed - if an MP is primarily interested in achieving publicity for the issue through their speech in the Chamber then they are unlikely to go to the trouble. However, if the bill is not printed before Second Reading then it cannot progress.

Realistically, there is rarely time for TMRBs to be considered beyond their introductory stage. Few TRMBs become law, but they are a useful mechanism to enable MPs to generate debate about an issue and to test the opinion of the House on a subject.

Hansard Society (2022), Guide to Private Members' Bills, (Hansard Society: London)

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