Any backbench MP who feels particularly strongly about or has expertise in a particular area can introduce a Private Members’ Bill. Very few Private Members’ Bills become law but they can be very effective in creating publicity around an issue and therefore have the ability to influence legislation indirectly.
The most common way of introducing a Private Members’ Bill is via the Ten Minute Rule. Ten Minute Rule Bills give MPs the chance to voice an opinion on a subject or on a piece of existing legislation. MPs make speeches of no more than ten minutes to outline their position, providing a good opportunity to raise the profile of an issue and to see whether it has support among other Members.
I am the sponsor of the Autism (Quality Standards) Bill 2010-11, which would require the Secretary of State to make a referral to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to develop and publish quality standards for autism spectrum disorders; and for connected purposes. This Bill was introduced to Parliament on 24 May 2011 under the Ten Minute Rule and is expected to have its second reading debate on 20th January 2012.