Ten Minute Rule Bill

A glamorised First Reading of a Bill for backbenchers

In short

A Ten Minute Rule Bill is a First Reading of a Private Members Bill, but with the sponsor permitted to make a ten minute speech outlining the reasons for the proposed legislation.

What's the point?

To give a backbencher the opportunity to argue their own choice of issue in front of a relatively full Commons Chamber and Ministers, for the purposes of making a legislative change, or to raise awareness and show support for an issue.

How does that work?

The First Reading is usually the formality of tabling the bill without further fanfare. With a Ten Minute Rule Bill, the sponsor is given 10 minutes at first reading to explain why they think that bill is a good idea.

The Ten-Minute Rule Bills occur immediately after Ministerial Questions on Tuesday and Wednesday, the busiest period of the day. It also gives the speaker the right to talk for 10 minutes without being interrupted.

Many Ten Minute Rule Bills do not require primary legislation in order to be accomplished, they can be delivered through Secondary Legislation or even changes to regulations that do not require any Parliamentary approval.

So if you pitch an idea that makes sense, that captures the ministers’ attention, then you may find that although your bill does not actually proceed further, the effect of the Bill is delivered through other means.

And if that doesn't happen?

Legislatively speaking, Ten Minute Rule Bills are no different to Presentation Bills, and go straight to the back of the Order Paper. There is little chance of the Bill proceeding further unless there is unanimous consent for the Bill or the Government elects to support the Bill directly.

How do you get the opportunity?

Officially, it is first come, first served, fifteen days before the expected day, and MPs would often spend the night sleeping in the room next door to guarantee success. However, party whips have since agreed an informal allocation arrangement for the Bill slots.