Prospective Act of Parliament tabled by backbench MPs
Private Members Bills are Bills tabled by backbenchers, as opposed to Government Bills. Members of the House of Lords can also table Private Member's Bills that perform their initial stages in that house.
Around 150 Private Members Bills are tabled each year, of which around 7 succeed in becoming Acts of Parliament
Private Members Bills are only debated on Fridays, which are devoted solely to Private Members Bills. The Government may elect to cede some of its Parliamentary time to a Private Members Bill it supports and wishes to see passed.
There are 13 Fridays in each Session allocated for Private Members Bills. The first seven Fridays are for bills at any stage of debating, the final six sessions are reserved for only those Bills that have completed the initial bill stages and require further Commons time for completion.
Although a great many bills may be scheduled for debate each Friday, it is rare for the House to debate those beyond the first three Bills listed on the Order Paper. Those Bills that were not debated on the day chosen must then propose a future date, where they will be placed at the back of any business already scheduled for that day. The first bills on the Order Paper are typically Ballot Bills.
Because there are many ways in which MPs and the Government can prevent Bills from progressing without actually having to address the merits of a bill. Despite many proposals for reforming the process, there is little support from any Government to increasing the possibility of Private Members Bills passing through Parliament.
The techniques used to obstruct Private Members Bills include:
Filibustering (or 'Talking Out')
The Speaker does not use their power to impose a time limit on members speeches on Fridays, and there is no requirement for an MP to give way once they have the floor. Should a backbencher not support a Bill, or having been instructed by their Party to obstruct it, they can fill the debating time with a meaningless words and if they are still talking at the end of the day (the 'moment of interruption') the Bill must then be scheduled for a future date.
Rather more dastardly, if the Bill to be obstructed is one that follows another that is likely to pass, the talker-outer can wax lyrical about the first Bill, and considerably reduce the amount of time available for the second Bill without saying a word against it.
No Programme Motion
Show me the money
What's the counter argument?
Philip Davies, an inveterate talker-outer, gave his perspective on the process in Oral evidence to the Procedure Committee.
For more details on the issues affecting Private Members Bills, see the 2015 House of Commons Procedure Committee Report
Private Members Bills are still legislation that have to pass through the same process as other prospective Acts of Parliament.