From Careers Guidance to Medical Cannabis: A Guide to MPs' 2021 Private Members' Bills
Every parliamentary session, 20 backbench MPs are randomly selected to present their own legislation. All 20 bills are announced today | Alamy
16 min read
The House Live's exclusive preview of all 20 Private Members' Bills from this session's ballot: what are MPs trying to do, and why?
Today, the 20 MPs who were drawn top in the Private Member’s Ballot will start their journey on what is normally a once-in-a-career opportunity for a backbencher: presenting legislation to the Commons which actually has a chance of making it onto the statute books.
The lucky parliamentarians, who include former ministers Liam Fox, Barry Gardinder and Sajid Javid, have had nearly a month to decide on their bill titles – and as one MP put it, weigh up whether “you do something that gets you lots of press but doesn't end up on the statute book, or do you do something that maybe doesn't sound as exciting but actually has some tangible outcome for people”.
Topics this year range from banning fire and rehire practices to raising the marriage age – plus three bills on animal welfare and two on taxis.
Mark Jenkinson, the 2019 intake Conservative MP for Workington, was drawn at number one and so will have the second reading of his bill on Friday 10 September. The next six are also guaranteed a debate on the Fridays after. After, the rest will proceed in order but are not guaranteed a debate – and only those with government support are likely to progress.
Last session, seven Private Members’ Bills (PMBs) from the ballot became law, including two from MPs outside the top seven – the average since 2010 is 6.5 successful ballot PMBs per parliamentary session.
So, what has been chosen this time round, and why?
1. Mark Jenkinson, Conservative, Workington
Education (Careers Guidance in Schools) Bill
“My bill will deliver the government's commitment in the Skills for jobs white paper to extend careers guidance to year seven (it is currently year eight). We'll also seek to put all state-funded schools like academies and special provision schools on a par with the other local authority schools. Where I'm from, that happens anyway, and it works, but it's not necessarily true across the country.
“Good careers advice is important to all children – and I say that knowing that I'm 39 and still don't know what I want to do when I grow up. But it's really important that from as early age as possible, we seek to set out the options. It's no good getting to year nine when you're choosing your options, and it being foisted upon you then.
“We need to keep reiterating to children from as early as possible the different avenues available, not just sixth form and university, but meeting with employers and seeing what they have to offer. Universal Technical Colleges form a big part of our offer now, but that means changing schools at 14.
"In updating statutory guidance and putting everyone on level footing, that allows Ofsted to better do their job with regard to monitoring careers advice across the country”
2. Barry Gardiner, Labour, Brent North
Employment and Trade Union Rights (Dismissal and Re-engagement) Bill
“Millions of workers across the country have been threatened with fire and rehire. Sacked and re-employed to do the same basic job for less money and poorer conditions. It’s not just backstreet firms doing it, it’s some of our national companies – Tesco’s, Sainsburys, Argos, British Airways, Heathrow Airport, Weetabix and Jacobs Douwe Egberts – are all at it.
“I chose this issue because it hits every constituency, every industry and every part of society. MPs from every party have offered me support and I have said to the government that I will work with them to pass a bill that helps make Britain the best place to be employed. In this place we spend a lot of time disagreeing but there are times when we can all share a common goal. I am delighted that this may be one of those times.
“My bill will improve cooperation, reduce industrial strife and promote best practice. It’s wonderful that so many good employers and business leaders condemn fire and rehire. My bill is not only morally right but in the best interests of sustainable business. I think that is something we can all work towards.”
3. Carolyn Harris, Labour, Swansea East
Menopause (Support and Services) Bill
“The primary aim of the PMB is to make Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) free for women in England going through the menopause – same as in the rest of the UK. At the moment, it is mainly the cost of treatment which serves as a barrier, so this bill would remove NHS prescription charges.
“The bill would also make provision for other menopause support and services, and I will be launching an APPG on Menopause to carry out an inquiry on how we can improve and standardise support for and understanding of menopause across the country. At the moment, we've got gaps in our education as individuals and gaps in medical school education – women go to the doctor with menopause symptoms and they come away with nothing, or with a leaflet, or being told they've got anxiety and depression.
“Women in the workforce end up on the scrap heap, because their place of work has no way of dealing with the menopause and the symptoms. There are little things that could happen, which could revolutionise women in the workplace.”
4. Dr Liam Fox, Conservative, North Somerset
Down Syndrome Bill
“My bill would place a duty on local authorities to assess the likely social care needs of persons with Down syndrome and plan provision accordingly.
“People who've got Down syndrome are overlooked in our health and social care system, our education system and our local government system – and there is a problem arising in that this will be the first generation of people with Down syndrome to outlive their parents, which for their parents is a huge worry about their care.
“There should be a duty on local authorities to consider people with Down syndrome when they're making provision for long term care – it is wrong for people with Down syndrome to be put into elderly care homes when they're in their 50s, it is wrong that they should be put into mental hospitals, it is wrong that in the educational system that they're just treated as “special needs” rather than a distinct group.
“It is time to give them the recognition that many other groups already get, and I'll be having discussions with the government about the best way to do it.”
5. Sajid Javid, Conservative, Bromsgrove
Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill
“The law recognises that childhood continues until 18, and protects children from making decisions they don’t understand the gravity of. That’s why 16-year-olds aren’t allowed to sign up for a credit card, or get a tattoo.
“They are, however, allowed to get married. Over the last decade thousands of child marriages have been registered in our country. Very few will have been lovestruck teens cementing their relationship with childhood sweethearts. The majority are young girls, coerced into marrying older men for religious and cultural reasons.
“Child marriages are associated with appalling outcomes, including complications during pregnancy and an increased risk of domestic, sexual and so-called ‘honour’ based violence. Victims regret that they weren’t able to complete their education, or take advantage of the opportunities this provides.
“We have a moral duty to protect children from harm, and make sure that every young person has the opportunity to fulfill their potential. I’m proud to be following in the footsteps of my brilliant colleague Pauline Latham by introducing a Private Member’s Bill to raise the legal age of marriage to 18 in England and Wales.
“Child marriage is child abuse, and it’s time we put an end to it.”
6. Kevin Brennan, Labour, Cardiff West
Copyright (Rights and Remuneration of Musicians etc) Bill
“Musicians’ earnings have been devastated by the closing down of gigs which has helped highlight how they are not getting a fair share of music streaming revenues from recordings.
“My Copyright (Rights and remuneration of musicians etc) Bill will create a new right to fair remuneration for musicians when their work is played on streaming platforms”
7. Jeff Smith, Labour, Manchester Withington
Medical Cannabis (Access) Bill
“My bill is aimed at breaking through the barriers stopping patients being able to be access medical cannabis. It's a campaign that I've been involved in for some time, and although medical cannabis is legal, lots of patients aren’t able to get NHS prescriptions.
“I’ve got constituents who are affected by this, as have many other MPs. One of my constituents, for example, is paying a fortune for a private prescription for his grandson, and it shouldn't be like that.
“It is a complicated issue, but I’m looking forward to working with ministers and officials on how we might solve the problem.”
8. Colum Eastwood, SDLP, Foyle
Climate Change Bill
“The climate emergency is the greatest threat our world faces. My bill has four parts – each of which is designed to expedite our journey to net zero.
"First, it would place a duty on the government to declare a climate emergency – while the UK parliament did so more than two years ago, the government is yet to.
"Second, it would amend the Climate Change Act 2008 to bring forward the date by which the United Kingdom is required to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions.
"Third, it would place a duty on the government to create and implement a strategy to achieve objectives related to climate change, including for the creation of environmentally-friendly jobs.
"And finally, it would require the secretary of state to report to parliament on proposals for a Green Corporate Levy on large companies so the cost of our transition is placed on those with the broadest shoulders and deepest pockets not on those already struggling. This revenue would be used to help deliver a bolder climate ambition.
"Further hesitation is getting a grip of the challenge is not an option if we want to leave a legacy to future generations. I am very excited to have the opportunity to showcase the urgency needed to tackle this crisis."
9. Peter Gibson, Conservative, Darlington
Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill
“There is a need across the country for an overhaul in the way taxi and PHV licensing happens. In an age of rapid innovation in mobility, digitisation, decarbonisation, and passenger safety, it is important that our legislation around taxi and PHV is fit to manage this evolution in public transport.
“There is an appetite among all MPs, regardless of party, to ensure that we as a parliamentary body continue to ensure that all passengers are protected from unsuitable drivers who shouldn’t be driving.
“With the help of colleagues across the Chamber, my Private Members Bill will ensure that the authorities can cooperate fully with one another to prevent unsuitable drivers taking the wheel and endangering our constituents across the country.”
10. Dr Ben Spencer, Conservative, Runnymede and Weybridge
Planning (Enforcement Bill)
“I am pleased to have the opportunity to introduce my Planning (Enforcement Bill), which will strengthen powers to deal with repeated planning breaches. While most people adhere to the rules, the minority who persistently commit planning breaches can cause misery to neighbours and communities, and causing irreparable damage to our Green Belt.
“Currently local authority planning teams are forced to spend too much time dealing with a handful of cases which can take years to resolve. My bill seeks to address this by increasing the penalties for those who repeatedly and intentionally flout the law, and creating a national register to enable local authorities to identify repeat offenders, so that we can end the cycle of endless applications and planning breaches on problem sites, and help protect our residents and our natural environment.”
11. Mel Stride, Conservative, Central Devon
Cultural Objects (Protection from Seizure) Bill
“My bill will provide new flexibility to extend the period of immunity from seizure for international loans of cultural objects to UK museums, which is currently limited to 12 months.
“This additional protection will play a vital role in enabling UK museums to hold exhibitions to be enjoyed by the UK public. This bill will ensure that where there are unexpected travel delays in future, lenders can continue to lend confidently to UK museums.
“I was keen to support this bill because I want to see the world's greatest cultural objects on show in the UK and for our museums and cultural life to flourish.”
12. Margaret Ferrier, Independent, Rutherglen and Hamilton West
Pension Schemes (Conversion Of Guaranteed Minimum Pensions) Bill
“I was delighted to come out of the Private Member’s Bill ballot and to be taking forward this important bill. It amends and clarifies existing Guaranteed Minimum Pension conversion legislation, helping to reassure occupational pension schemes that they are able to use the methodology published in DWP guidance to level the effective differences between pension amounts paid out to men and women.
“Historical inequalities of treatment between men and women in the pension system have long resulted in uneven amounts being paid out as Guaranteed Minimum Pensions in occupational pension schemes to men and women. This bill will begin to rectify these persisting issues."
13. Matt Rodda, Labour, Reading East
“Early education is vital and there is a clear link between high quality early years education and children’s attainment in school and other benefits later in life.
“I’m concerned that some parents and families are missing out on childcare and the bill aims to help, both by raising awareness of what is on offer and also by removing red tape, such as improving the appeals process for claiming support.”
14. Jane Stevenson, Conservative, Wolverhampton North East
Glue Traps (Offences) Bill
“The UK prides itself on having some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, yet sadly glue traps are still permitted as a way of catching or killing rodents. Glue traps can often be a horrifically slow and painful way for the rodent to die, and it is likely that thousands of rodents are caught in them every year.
“But it’s not just rodents that end up caught in glue traps. The RSPCA has received 200 reports in the last five years of unintended animals also being found stuck in glue traps, and often dying as a result. These include wild birds, hedgehogs and even cats. We know there are other more humane methods of removing pests, so my bill would seek to ban the use of glue traps for this purpose.”
15. Chris Bryant, Labour, Rhondda
Acquired Brain Injury Bill
“There is a hidden epidemic of people living with acquired brain injury in the UK. It affects 1.4 million and has implications for every government department.
“My bill would require the government to consult on, publish and review an Acquired Brain Injury Strategy. So ministers would have to look at measures to prevent brain injuries, especially amongst the young and including concussion in sport.
“Ministers would have to report on the provision of rehabilitation for those who have had brain injuries; the screening of prisoners and members of the armed forces for brain injuries; training for those assessing welfare payments and for teachers in recognising and dealing with brain injuries.”
16. Paul Beresford, Conservative, Mole Valley
Local Government (Disqualification) Bill
“The bill will make provision about the grounds on which a person is disqualified from being elected to, or holding, certain positions in local government in England.
“Any elected member who is convicted of a sexual offence – such as possession of child sexual pornography but doesn’t get a sentence disqualifying them from office will – under this change – be automatically disqualified.
“Protection of children is a local authority matter and it is wrong that a person with such an interest should be in any position that enables influence or contact with children through their elected position.”
17. Jeremy Wright, Conservative, Kenilworth and Southam
Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Disabled Persons) Bill
“This bill should help ensure all disabled passengers receive appropriate assistance and are not charged extra or refused carriage when using taxis and private hire vehicles.
“I represent a largely rural constituency where public transport can be scarce or infrequent, so taxis and private hire vehicles are especially important for disabled people to get around. Many drivers are accommodating and helpful, as the law expects now, of course – but there are still too many negative experiences for disabled people, which is why I think the law should be strengthened.”
18. Richard Fuller, Conservative, North East Bedfordshire
Hare Coursing Bill
“Hare coursing is a serious and aggravating crime but often the penalties are an insufficient deterrent. In addition, the dogs used in the chase are often exhausted and left for dead and hares are killed senselessly.
“Remedies in law are strewn across multiple, arcane pieces of legislation dating back to the 1800s such as the Night Poaching Act of 1828 and the Game Act of 1831. My bill will remove these and become the defining law for the crime of hare coursing. It will seek changes with stronger guidance on sentencing and a higher limit for certain penalties.”
19. Andrew Rosindell, Conservative, Romford
Animals (Penalty Notices) Bill
“As an animal lover, and long-time campaigner on animal welfare, I am introducing a bill to introduce penalties for lower-level animal welfare offences which are currently falling through the gaps.
“Penalty notices will be used to fill the gap between doing nothing and prosecution for a criminal offence where someone has harmed the welfare of an animal, whether through neglect or active harm.
“The bill would give an enforcer the ability to charge an up to £5,000 in any case where a penalty applied. Anytime a £5,000 fine would appear to be insufficient an enforcer would instead pursue criminal prosecution.
“Penalties from this bill would give the enforcer the power to fine individuals offences against a wide range of existing primary legislation. I believe it will make a real tangible difference across the board for animal welfare by reinforcing the current high standards in the UK”
20. Rosie Cooper, Labour, West Lancashire
The British Sign Language (BSL) Bill
“The British Sign Language (BSL) Bill will declare BSL an official language of the United Kingdom and provide for a BSL Council that will be able to promote and advise on matters relating to the language.
“As the daughter of profoundly deaf parents, BSL is my first language. I know first-hand the difficulty that deaf people face every day. So often they are ignored, misunderstood or have to fight for attention. Acknowledging BSL as a language is a simple step towards ensuring the needs of deaf people who rely on their language are met, and met correctly.”
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