The bill is read after the Queen's Speech, but before any debate on the contents of the Speech. The bill is given a pro forma first reading upon the motion of the Leader of the House of Lords, to demonstrate that the House can debate on whatever it chooses and set its own business independently of the Crown. The equivalent bill used by the House of Commons is the Outlawries Bill.
The title of the bill refers to the Select Vestries that were established in each parish to administer the Poor Law. These bodies met in the vestry of the local parish church and were responsible for imposing a form of local taxes known as the Church Rate. Over time, these bodies became notoriously corrupt. An Act for the Regulation of Parish Vestries was passed in 1802 (58 Geo. III c. 69), and an Act to Amend the Law for the Relief of the Poor was passed in 1803 (59 Geo. III c.12). These two Acts of Parliament are known collectively as the Select Vestries Acts, or the Sturges-Bourne Acts after William Sturges Bourne, the MP who promoted them.