Private Members Bill Children Not in School Register

On May 16 2023 MP Flick Drummond introduced a Private Members Bill to make a new law for registering children not in school. This is not a government initiative which is to say it is not a public bill. Rather, as the name suggests, it comes from an individual Member of Parliament.

Private Members Bills have to go through a prescribed number of stages in both Houses of Parliament and for Private Members Bills these debates can only take place on specific Fridays between certain dates before time runs out at the end of the parliamentary session. (A session is a single parliamentary year whereas a parliamentary term is the time from one General Election to the next, in theory 5 years)

Flick Drummond’s Bill arrived via the 10 Minute Rule process which is a secondary route for this type of Bill. Initially this is a good way to get publicity because it guarantees a short debate at a popular time in the House of Commons for the First Reading, but for all the subsequent stages it has to wait for a space behind the numbers drawn in the Private Members Ballot which is the primary route for this type of Bill.

At the close of the 10 Minute Rule speech, the date of Second Reading was listed as Friday November 24.

The Bill has not yet been written but it will have to be published before the anticipated Second Reading date. There are various ways a Bill might get stuck in the system for example if there are lengthy debates during the Friday sessions or if there are a lot of amendments to Bills at the top of the list.

Flick Drummond is a member of the Education Committee and announced her intention of using the 10 Minute Rule during a committee enquiry session into persistent absence in schools back in March, saying she was working with Alice Wilcock of the Centre for Social Justice to keep the registration issue in the public eye after the government dropped the Schools Bill.

Regrettably, the Centre for Social Justice is the source for repeated claims about 140,000 “ghost children” who allegedly never returned to school after covid lockdown. This has been challenged as highly misleading on a number of occasions by Full Fact, most recently on May 14.


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