Parliamentary agents

Parliamentary Agents

Parliamentary agents

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Parliamentary Agents are solicitors (and, hence, the firms they belong to) who are licensed by the Houses of Parliament to draft, promote or oppose Private Bills. Private Bills are a specific class of legislation promoted by organisations outside Parliament to obtain powers for themselves that differ from the general law.


In 1836, due to the obvious conflict of interest, the Clerks of the House were debarred from carrying out what had been a lucrative line of agency work.

The high point for Parliamentary Agency work was during the mid 19th century during the rise of the Railway industry, as these companies often needed Parliamentary powers in building and running their operations. This was a source of political controversy, since Railway directors were becoming seen to be overly powerful, leading the Prime Minister at the time, William Ewart Gladstone, to identify Parliamentary Agents as ‘the deeper power in opposition’McLean, I. (2002) 'The origin and strange history of regulation in the UK: three case studies in search of a theory', Workshop...
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