A member of parliament’s legislative motion, called a private member's bill or a member's bill in some parliaments, is a proposed law introduced by a member of a legislature who is not acting on behalf of the executive government. In most countries with a parliamentary system, most bills are proposed by the government. In the United States and other countries in which the executive is formally separated from the legislature, there is no mechanism for the executive government to directly introduce its own legislative proposals, and members of the executive are not part of the legislature. All bills are simply introduced by members of the legislature, and the concept of the private member's bill does not apply.
In the United Kingdom and other countries that follow the Westminster System such as Canada and New Zealand, an individual member of parliament (MP) who is not a Government minister is called a private member (of parliament) (or backbencher) and therefore such an MP's legislative motion is called a private member's bill. The MP who introduces a legislative motion can be a member of a party represented in the government (cabinet) or in the opposition. It can also be introduced by a crossbencher. Usually, in such countries, the overwhelming majority of bills introduced are proposed by members of the cabinet, and most of the legislature's time is spent dealing with such bills, which are called "Government bills". However, some parliamentary time is regularly set aside so that backbenchers and crossbenchers may also introduce bills.
A private member's bill is not to be confused with a private bill, which is a bill that only affects an individual citizen or group.
The United Kingdom parliament has a long history of enacting private member's bills. In contrast, the Oireachtas (parliament) of the Republic of Ireland rarely passes private members' bills, with the overwhelming number of bills being passed being introduced by members of the cabinet.
Famous quotes containing the words bill, private and/or member:
“As for farming, I am convinced that my genius dates from an older era than the agricultural. I would at least strike my spade into the earth with such careless freedom but accuracy as the woodpecker his bill into a tree.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“My gentleman gives the law where he is; he will outpray saints in chapel, outgeneral veterans in the field, and outshine all courtesy in the hall. He is good company for pirates, and good with academicians; so that it is useless to fortify yourself against him; he has the private entrance to all minds, and I could as easily exclude myself, as him.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“Neighboring farmers and visitors at White Sulphur drove out occasionally to watch those funny Scotchmen with amused superiority; when one member imported clubs from Scotland, they were held for three weeks by customs officials who could not believe that any game could be played with such elongated blackjacks or implements of murder.”
—For the State of West Virginia, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)