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Chapter IX — Public Bills

Introduction and Readings (Standing Orders [ 68697071727374 ])
Consideration by Committee (Standing Order [ 75 ])
Report Stage at Second Reading (Standing Order [ 76 ])
Report Stage after Second Reading (Standing Order [ 76.1 ])
Senate Amendments (Standing Order [ 77 ])
Time Allocation (Standing Order [ 78 ])

Introduction

The Standing Orders have always contained provisions governing the passage of public bills. Among these are Standing Orders prohibiting the introduction of bills in blank or imperfect shape, and requiring that all bills receive three separate readings on different days, be printed in both official languages, and be certified by the Clerk of the House at each reading. Other Standing Orders outline alternatives to the traditional legislative process, such as having a committee prepare a bill or referring a bill to committee before second reading; specify the time limits on speeches for government bills; set out in considerable detail the procedures at report stage; describe how House and Senate disagreements on bills may be resolved; and detail how specific amounts of House time may be allocated to various stages of the legislative process.

Introduction and Readings

Standing Order 68(1) and (2)
Motion for introduction of bills.
68.
(1)
Every bill is introduced upon motion for leave, specifying the title of the bill; or upon motion to appoint a committee to prepare and bring it in.
Brief explanation permitted.
 
(2)
A motion for leave to introduce a bill shall be deemed carried, without debate, amendment or question put, provided that any Member moving for such leave may be permitted to give a succinct explanation of the provisions of the said bill.

Commentary — Standing Order 68(1) and (2)

The first stage in the legislative process, other than for Supply bills or those based on Ways and Means resolutions, begins with the introduction of a bill. Section (1) of Standing Order 68 provides two methods by which public bills can be introduced in the House:  by a Member moving formally for leave to introduce a bill after having given at least 48-hours’ notice, [1] or by a committee reporting after having been ordered by the House to prepare and bring in a bill. [2] In modern practice, a motion for leave to introduce a bill is by far the most common method employed.

Section (2) stipulates that the motion for leave to introduce a bill is deemed carried without debate or amendment. This proceeding does, however, allow any Member who moves the motion for leave, including a Minister, to give a succinct explanation of the provisions of the bill while doing so.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 68 (1) and (2)

Section (1) was adopted in December 1867 as Rule 39, and the text has remained unchanged since then. The same text had originally formed one of the Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada. [3]

Although the motion for leave has been the most common method of introducing a bill in Canadian practice, the House still retains the second method in its rules, and Members have recently seen it as a viable option in carrying out their work. [4] The vast majority of bills since 1867 have been introduced on motion for leave; however, leave to introduce a bill was not always assured.

On a number of occasions since 1867, Members have objected to a motion being moved for the introduction of a bill either because the bill had not been preceded by a necessary financial resolution [5] or because the bill applied to “trade”, which until 1927 also required the adoption of a preliminary resolution. [6] Various Speakers on their own initiative have ruled out of order certain motions for the introduction of bills, calling the attention of the House to the particular concern, which included the prohibition against blank or imperfect bills.

From 1867 to 1913, the motion for leave to introduce a bill was debatable and amendable. [7] Amendments to then Rule 17 were adopted in April 1913 in an attempt to define and lessen the number of motions which would be considered debatable. [8] Among those no longer held to be debatable was the motion for leave to introduce a bill.

Canadian practice, however, permitted the Member moving for leave to give a short explanation of the bill. [9] Upon hearing the explanation, Members would, on occasion, choose to negative the motion for leave. [10] The original version of section (2) of Standing Order 68 was inserted into the Standing Orders in 1955 “to spell out the existing practice”. [11] In April 1991, section (2) was amended to provide that the motion for leave would henceforth be deemed adopted, eliminating the possibility of a division on the motion. [12]

Standing Order 68(3)
Imperfect or blank bills.
68.
(3)
No bill may be introduced either in blank or in an imperfect shape.

Commentary — Standing Order 68(3)

Common sense demanded that a Standing Order be included to prevent the introduction of a bill in imperfect or blank form. Section (3) of Standing Order 68 gives the Chair considerable latitude in determining what criteria would render such bills irreceivable.

While the Standing Order draws attention to errors at the point of introduction, historically such errors or anomalies have been brought to the attention of the Chair at various stages of the bill’s consideration.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 68(3)

Section (3) of Standing Order 68, adopted in December 1867 as Rule 40, has remained unchanged. Since Confederation, Speakers have indicated that the introduction of bills in blank form was clearly against the rules, [1] and their interpretations have normally been restrictive concerning the terms “blank” and “imperfect”.

In May 1882, while ruling on the acceptability of proceeding with a bill that a Member claimed had been materially altered after its introduction, the Speaker referred to the loose practices which prevailed in the House, stating that some bills had even been introduced in blank form. He indicated, however, that such a practice “should not be permitted”, and further, that once a bill was in the possession of the House, it could only be materially altered by the House itself. The Speaker declared that thereafter only “mere clerical alterations” would be permitted. [2]

In May 1923, a joint committee considered, among other items, the forms of bills and the best means of providing information and assistance during all stages of legislation in both Houses. [3] Although the text of Standing Order 68(3) remained unchanged, the committee reported and the House agreed that certain very specific information should be included in the printed text. [4] In May 1931, a Member claimed that the form of a bill did not comply with the 1923 requirements and was therefore in “imperfect” form. The Speaker indicated Standing Order 68(3) did not appear to apply, but advised the Member moving second reading of the bill to confer with the Law Clerk regarding the form before proceeding further. [5]

The issue arose again in 1938 and 1943. On May 10, 1938, the Speaker ruled a bill out of order on the grounds that it had not been prepared according to the guidelines. [6] On June 14, 1938, the Speaker ruled in order a bill whose form had been corrected between first and second reading to conform with the guidelines. [7] In April 1943, the Leader of the Opposition objected to giving first reading to a bill that had not yet been prepared, claiming the Members were being asked to pass a “blank piece of paper”. In this instance, the Speaker ruled that, as the bill was not before the House, leave could not be granted for its introduction except by unanimous consent. [8]

In May 1956, the Speaker ruled in order a bill containing a reference to an agreement not included in the text on the grounds that to declare a bill blank or imperfect required that the bill contain blanks when introduced and given first reading. He also indicated that the Speaker could not be expected to study every bill in an effort to find whether something had been omitted. [9]

An exception to the practice of accepting bills only in perfect form began in 1962. Various Speakers entered caveats at first reading of private Members’ bills, indicating the bills would be examined as to their regularity before second reading. [10]

In April 1970, Members argued that a particular bill be considered imperfect and not proceeded with since it incorporated certain provisions of two proposed statutes which did not yet exist. The Speaker ruled the bill in order, but stated that the issue could be raised at third reading if at that time the House were being asked to adopt a bill dependent on the adoption of other bills. [11] Two years later, Members objected to a bill which appeared to have insufficient explanatory notes; the Speaker ruled the bill in order, indicating that the Standing Orders did not require bills to have an explanatory note. [12]

In May 1978 and December 1980, the Speaker directed that the order for second reading of two private Members’ public bills be discharged after finding that they had not been finalized and were therefore not ready for introduction. [13] Later, in February 1981, attention was drawn to the fact that a number of private Members’ public bills listed on the Order Paper for second reading had not been printed. Members objected to the practice of allowing such bills to retain their precedence according to the results of the private Members’ draw. The Chair ruled that the objection was valid and ordered that any bill for which the text had not been received within 30 days would lose its precedence on the Order Paper. [14] The same question was raised again in December 1981. [15] Although the Chair agreed that the practice contravened Standing Order 68(3), he ruled that it was too late in the present session to adhere to the requirements. The Chair, however, gave notice that in the following session, only those bills which had been drafted would be permitted in the draw. [16] Under current practice, no private Members’ bill is placed on notice unless legislative counsel has certified that it is in the correct form.

In June 1984, the Chair determined that a printing error had resulted in blanks in a government bill, and the House agreed to proceed to second reading. [17] In January 1987, a point of order alleged that there were two imperfections in a government bill; specifically, that a blank occurred where a sessional paper number should have appeared and a memorandum of understanding was not contained in the bill. [18] The Speaker ruled that these anomalies did not render the bill imperfect with respect to Standing Order 68(3) and directed that the Clerk alter the bill to correct the errors. [19] The Speaker reiterated in February 2004 that the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel had the power to fix manifest printing errors, but undertook to inform Members of all such corrections by tabling them in the House. [20]

Standing Order 68(4), (5) and (6)
Motion by a Minister to prepare and bring in a bill.
68.
(4)
A motion by a Minister of the Crown to appoint or instruct a standing, special or legislative committee to prepare and bring in a bill, pursuant to section (1) of this Standing Order, shall be considered under Government Orders. During debate on any such motion no Member shall be permitted to speak more than once or for more than ten minutes. After not more than ninety minutes debate on any such motion, the Speaker shall interrupt debate and put all questions necessary to dispose of the motion without further debate or amendment. A motion by a Minister of the Crown to concur in the report of a committee pursuant to this section shall also be taken up under Government Orders and shall, for the purposes of Standing Order 78, be considered to be a stage of a public bill.
Committee’s report.
 
(5)
A committee appointed or instructed to prepare and bring in a bill shall, in its report, recommend the principles, scope and general provisions of the said bill and may, if it deems it appropriate, but not necessarily, include recommendations regarding legislative wording.
Order to bring in a bill.
 
(6)
The adoption of a motion to concur in a report made pursuant to section (5) of this Standing Order shall be an order to bring in a bill based thereon.

Commentary — Standing Order 68(4), (5) and (6)

These Standing Orders spell out the procedure for having a committee prepare and bring in a bill. A Minister may introduce a motion either appointing a new committee or instructing an existing committee to draft a bill. Such a motion is considered during the time provided for Government Orders. During the debate on the motion, no Member may speak for more than ten minutes and after a maximum of 90 minutes of debate, the Speaker interrupts proceedings and the question is put on the motion.

If the motion is adopted, it becomes an order of reference to the committee. In its report, the committee must at a minimum recommend the principles, scope and general provisions of the bill. The committee may also, if it wishes, recommend specific legislative wording for the bill.

Once the committee has reported to the House, a Minister may move a motion to concur in the report. It too is considered under Government Orders. In addition, the concurrence motion is considered to be a stage of the bill, meaning a Minister may move a time allocation motion pursuant to Standing Order 78 in order to limit debate. The adoption of a motion to concur in the committee’s report is an order of the House to bring in a bill based on the recommendations of the committee.

Standing Order 68(7)
Second reading stage of the bill. Minister’s motion.
68.
(7)
When a Minister of the Crown, in proposing a motion for first reading of a bill, has stated that the bill is in response to an order made pursuant to section (6) of this Standing Order, notwithstanding any Standing Order, the bill shall not be set down for consideration at the second reading stage before the third sitting day after having been read a first time. The second reading and any subsequent stages of such a bill shall be considered under Government Orders. When a motion for second reading of such a bill is proposed, notwithstanding any Standing Order, the Speaker shall immediately put all questions necessary to dispose of the second reading stage of the bill without debate or amendment.

Commentary — Standing Order 68(7)

This section describes how a bill prepared by a committee progresses through the first and second reading stages. No motion to introduce the bill is necessary, as the House has already ordered that the bill be brought in by adopting the committee’s report. However, the bill must still receive first reading. In moving the motion for first reading, a Minister indicates that the bill is based on the committee’s report. The motion is deemed adopted without debate or amendment. The bill is then set down for second reading on a future date.

Second reading of the bill is subject to a number of particular rules. At least three sitting days must elapse between first and second reading, instead of one sitting day. The motion for second reading is considered during Government Orders, but unlike other bills, the motion cannot be debated or amended and the Speaker immediately puts the question. If the bill receives second reading, it is referred to a committee and proceeds through the remaining stages for public legislation.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 68(4), (5), (6) and (7)

The Standing Orders have provided for a committee bringing in a bill since Confederation (see Standing Order 68(1)). However, this method of proceeding has very rarely been employed. Motions instructing committees to bring in a bill were occasionally considered, [1] but there was no specific procedure for dealing with such motions or any bill that might result from a committee’s report.

In 1985, the Special Committee on Reform of the House of Commons proposed several measures to give a greater role to parliamentary committees. Among other recommendations, it suggested involving committees earlier in the legislative process and encouraged that more use be made of committees to draft legislation. [2] The practice still remained relatively rare.

At the opening of the Thirty-Fifth Parliament in 1994, the government introduced a number of changes to the Standing Orders. Among them were alternatives to the traditional legislative process, such as having a committee prepare and bring in a bill and referring a bill to committee before second reading (see Standing Order 73(1)). By having committees consider legislation before it was approved in principle, it was felt that Members could play a greater role in shaping policy. [3] However, some Members criticized the initiative as a way of eliminating debate at second reading. [4]

Since these sections of Standing Order 68 were adopted, two bills have been drafted by a committee. In April 1994, pursuant to a motion moved by a Minister, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs was instructed to prepare and bring in a bill respecting the readjustment of electoral district boundaries. [5] A few months later, the Committee presented a report to the House that included the text of a draft bill. [6] A motion to concur in the Committee’s report was debated during Government Orders and adopted. [7] Bill C–69, An Act to provide for the establishment of electoral boundaries, was given first reading in February 1995. [8] Despite the provisions of Standing Order 68(7), the House agreed by unanimous consent to allow a brief debate at second reading before the bill was referred back to committee for clause-by-clause study. [9] The bill was subsequently passed by the House, but was not adopted by the Senate before the end of the session.

The second case resulted from the adoption of an opposition motion urging the government to have a committee draft a bill dealing with impaired driving. Immediately after the adoption of the opposition motion, with the consent of the House, a Minister moved a motion to have the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights prepare such a bill. [10] The Committee reported the text of a draft bill in May 1999. [11] Although no motion to concur in the Committee’s report was moved, the government subsequently introduced a bill based on the committee’s report, Bill C–82, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving causing death and other matters). [12] While the bill would have been subject to the regular legislative process, the House agreed by unanimous consent to consider it at second reading, in Committee of the Whole and at third reading in one sitting. [13] The bill received Royal Assent shortly thereafter.

Between 1994 and 2003, these sections also allowed private Members to present motions to have a committee prepare and bring in a bill. Such motions were to be considered according to the rules for Private Members’ Business. While several such motions were debated, none was ever adopted. [14] Following a restructuring of the procedures relating to Private Members’ Business, the provisions of Standing Order 68 relating to private Members were suspended in March 2003 and deleted permanently in May 2005. [15]

Standing Order 69
Motion for first reading and printing.
69.
(1)
When any bill is presented by a Member, in pursuance of an Order of the House, the question “That this bill be now read a first time and be printed” shall be deemed carried, without debate, amendment or question put.
First reading of Senate public bills.
 
(2)
When any bill is brought from the Senate, the question “That this bill be read a first time” shall be deemed carried, without debate, amendment or question put.

Commentary — Standing Order 69

Immediately after a motion for leave to introduce a bill is deemed adopted, a motion is proposed for its first reading and printing pursuant to Standing Order 69(1). [1] The purpose of this motion, which is deemed carried without debate or amendment, is to make the bill available for the information of Parliament and the public.

In the case of bills brought from the Senate, section (2) provides for first reading of the bill only, since it is already in printed form (thus obviating the need for leave to introduce the bill or for a committee to bring it in). This motion, as well, is deemed adopted without debate or amendment.

Although it is not mentioned in the Standing Orders, once a motion is deemed adopted for the first reading of a bill, the Speaker will complete the first reading stage by immediately asking the question:  “When shall the bill be read a second time? At the next sitting of the House?” The House agrees to this question without a formal motion. [2] The bill is then inscribed on the Order Paper for second reading at some future date.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 69

The original version of Standing Order 69, adopted in December 1867, provided for first reading of bills presented by Members pursuant to an order of the House and of bills brought from the Senate. The applicable motion was worded “That this Bill be now read a first time.” [3]

The ancient practice of the U.K. Parliament to read the bills at length was obsolete by the time of Confederation. Since the earliest Canadian Parliament it was considered sufficient at first reading merely to read the title of the bill in English and French. [4] In April 1878, upon request of a Member, a bill was read by the Assistant Clerk in its entirety at the first reading stage. In his remarks concerning this proceeding, the Speaker emphasized that, although there was no rule against it, the practice of reading the text of bills had entirely disappeared. [5]

The wording of the original Standing Order prohibited debate on or amendments to the main motion. Speakers were strict in enforcing the rule and in asserting that no discussion could take place at first reading except by unanimous consent, and that the House had the option only of accepting or rejecting the bill’s first reading. [6]

The text of the Standing Order remained unchanged until amendments were adopted in December 1968 to modify the wording and to divide the rule into two sections. The new text reflected some of the aims of a special committee on procedure, specifically to identify the crucial stages in a bill’s passage. [7] While retaining the three readings of a bill, the committee rephrased each “reading” motion to illuminate the philosophy behind each stage of the legislative process. The motion for the first reading of a bill was, in the case of bills presented pursuant to an order of the House, amended to read “That this bill be read a first time and printed”. The aim of the committee was that adoption of this motion would imply that the House had agreed to the introduction of the bill without any commitment beyond the fact that it should be made generally available for the information of Parliament and the public. [8]

In the case of bills brought from the Senate, the motion was amended to read “That this bill be read a first time” and was incorporated as section (2) of the Standing Order. [9]

The rule was next modified in April 1991 to provide that the motion for first reading and printing of House bills would be deemed adopted, without the question being put. [10] A similar change was adopted for Senate bills in June 1994. [11]

Standing Order 70
Printed in English and French before second reading.
70.
All bills shall be printed before the second reading in the English and French languages.

Commentary — Standing Order 70

The terms of this Standing Order prohibit the consideration of any bill at second reading stage which has not been printed and is not available in both official languages. All government and private Members’ bills are printed in a bilingual format at first reading stage. This also conforms to a Supreme Court interpretation of section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867, with the Constitution Act, 1982 and with the Official Languages Act. [1]

Historical Summary — Standing Order 70

The original 1867 version of Standing Order 70 specified that all bills would be printed before second reading in both languages (except bills relating exclusively to one or more provinces other than Quebec, which could be printed in English only unless otherwise required, bills merely continuing Acts and other short bills of minor importance). The rule was amended in 1876 to reflect the present wording, specifically prohibiting consideration of any bill at second reading unless the text had been printed in both languages. [2]

It is unclear whether the original 1867 rule and its 1876 amendment were intended partially to implement or conform to the provisions of section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867. [3] Although Members frequently cited that section when objecting to a lack of documentation, including bills, in both languages, the rule itself was narrowly interpreted by the Chair. For example, the Chair ruled that objection to a bill not printed in the second language had to be raised before debate at second reading had begun. [4] Furthermore, interpretations in the past held that the rule applied only to a bill at second reading and could not be invoked for the printing or reprinting of a bill after committee or at the third reading stage. [5] Nonetheless, when bills printed in one language only were proceeded with, the consent of the House was always required. [6]

Members have invoked this Standing Order to claim that study of a bill should not proceed unless evidence from the committee on the bill had been printed and was available in both languages, [7] and in another instance, unless other pertinent documents pertaining to a bill were similarly available in both languages. [8] In each case, the Chair ruled that the terms of the Standing Order had been met since the bill itself was available in both languages, and thus consideration of the measure could continue. [9]

In September 1968, motions were adopted requiring that all government bills be introduced in a bilingual form and, unless otherwise provided, bills introduced by private Members also be printed in a bilingual form. [10] Through adherence to the intent of this House decision, the Standing Order requirement relevant to language was met.

Standing Order 71
Three separate readings. Urgent cases.
71.
Every bill shall receive three several readings, on different days, previously to being passed. On urgent or extraordinary occasions, a bill may be read twice or thrice, or advanced two or more stages in one day.

Commentary — Standing Order 71

A long-standing parliamentary practice, first established in the United Kingdom, is reflected in this Standing Order, requiring that each bill receive three readings, each to occur on different days. This Standing Order also makes provision for urgent and extraordinary occasions:  when the House so decides, a bill may receive two or more readings on the same day or be advanced by two or more stages. The section refers only to reading stages; thus, for example, consideration in Committee of the Whole, report stage and third reading may all take place on the same day.

An exception to the rule of three separate readings has been provided in Standing Order 81(17) and (18), where all stages of appropriation bills considered on the last allotted day in a Supply period may be passed in the same sitting.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 71

This Standing Order was adopted as Rule 43 in December 1867 and the text has remained unchanged. The “reading” of bills is founded upon long parliamentary usage. Although noted in the early Journals of the U.K. House of Commons, the practice of giving three readings each on separate days was, however, never inscribed in the actual U.K. Standing Orders. [1] The prohibition against two readings on the same day was included in the Rules of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada [2] and the identical text was adopted as one of the rules of the new Canadian House of Commons.

Although it appeared to be the usual and correct practice to allow a day or two to intervene between the different stages of bills, the House, since the First Parliament, frequently agreed to expedite the passage of bills by setting aside the prohibition noted in the Standing Order. [3] It was clear that it was the House itself, as opposed to the Chair, that determined whether an urgency existed in the passage of such legislation. [4]

In ruling on the application of this Standing Order, Speakers have consistently pointed out that it applies to the “readings” of bills as opposed to the various stages of bills. [5] In February 1969, in response to a point of order questioning whether third reading could be given to a bill on the same day as it had been concurred in at report stage, Speaker Lamoureux reiterated that report stage was not a reading stage. He emphasized that Standing Order 71 “always prevails. If there has been a previous reading in that sitting there cannot be a subsequent reading on the same day.” [6]

Changes to the Standing Orders adopted in 1994 allow bills to be referred to committee before second reading (see Standing Order 73(1)), in which case report stage and second reading are combined. The provisions of Standing Order 71 still hold true, as third reading of these bills cannot be taken up in the same sitting as report stage and second reading. [7]

Standing Order 72
Clerk certifies readings.
72.
When a bill is read in the House, the Clerk shall certify upon it the readings and the time thereof. After it has passed, the Clerk shall certify the same, with the date, at the foot of the bill.

Commentary — Standing Order 72

Standing Order 72 stipulates that each bill shall be certified upon each of the three readings as well as when it is passed. The Clerk of the House bears responsibility for indicating each of the readings and the date it passed.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 72

Standing Order 72, enumerating the duties of the Clerk during proceedings on public bills, was adopted in December 1867 as Rule 44. While the text has remained unchanged, the practice has developed of not signifying the “time”, but merely the date the reading occurred and when the bill passed. Although the rule specifies that the Clerk of the House does the certifications, in practice any of the Clerks present at the Table may do so.

Throughout all the stages and proceedings, the bill remains in the custody of the Clerk or other officers of the House. No alteration is permitted without the express authority of the House or a committee, in the form of an amendment. The original bills, as certified, form part of the records of the House. [1]

Standing Order 73(1)
Motion to refer a government bill to a committee before second reading.
73.
(1)
Immediately after the reading of the Order of the Day for the second reading of any government bill, a Minister of the Crown may, after notifying representatives of the opposition parties, propose a motion that the said bill be forthwith referred to a standing, special or legislative committee. The Speaker shall immediately propose the question to the House and proceedings thereon shall be subject to the following conditions:
(a)
the Speaker shall recognize for debate a Member from the party forming the government, followed by a Member from the party forming the Official Opposition, followed by a Member from each officially recognized party in the House, in order of the number of Members in that party, provided that, if no Member from the party whose turn has been reached rises, a Member of the next party in the rotation or a Member who is not a Member of an officially recognized party may be recognized;
(b)
the motion shall not be subject to any amendment;
(c)
no Member may speak more than once nor longer than ten minutes; and
(d)
after not more than five hours of debate, the Speaker shall interrupt the debate and the question shall be put and decided without further debate.

Commentary — Standing Order 73(1)

Traditionally, when the House proceeds to second reading of a bill, it is asked to give approval to the principle of the bill. However, the effect of adoption of the principle at this stage of the legislative process is to limit the scope of amendments that may be made during clause-by-clause consideration in committee and at report stage. This Standing Order provides more flexibility in the legislative process, allowing a Minister to move that a government bill be referred to a committee before second reading. Members can examine a bill before its principle is adopted at second reading and thus have more latitude in proposing amendments.

When the Order of the Day is read for the second reading of a government bill, a Minister may, after notifying representatives of the opposition parties, propose a motion that the bill be forthwith referred to committee before second reading. The Standing Orders are silent as to the manner in which the representatives of the opposition parties are to be notified. However, the usual practice is for a Minister to inform the House of the government’s intention during the weekly business statement on Thursday afternoon. [1] The motion to refer the bill forthwith to committee is not subject to any amendment, and debate is limited to five hours. The Speaker recognizes a Member from each party, starting with the government, followed by the Official Opposition and then a Member from each other opposition party. If no Member of a particular party rises when their turn has been reached, the Speaker may recognize a Member of the next party in the rotation or an independent Member. In practice, after the opening round of speeches, the Speaker may choose to alternate between government and opposition Members. Speeches are limited to ten minutes. At the end of the five hours, or when no more Members rise to speak, whichever comes first, the Speaker puts the question on the motion. If the motion is adopted, the bill is referred to a standing, special or legislative committee for consideration.

Standing Order 73(2), (3) and (4)
Referral before amendment.
73.
(2)
Every public bill, except for bills referred to a committee before being read a second time pursuant to section (1) of this Standing Order, shall be read twice and referred to a committee before any amendment may be made thereto.
Referral to a committee.
 
(3)
Unless otherwise ordered and except for bills referred to a committee before being read a second time pursuant to section (1) of this Standing Order, in giving a bill second reading, the same shall be referred to a standing, special or legislative committee.
Supply bills.
 
(4)
Any bill based on a Supply motion shall, after second reading, stand referred to a Committee of the Whole.

Commentary — Standing Order 73(2), (3) and (4)

The second reading stage provides an opportunity for general debate on the principle of a bill. Standing Order 73(2) prohibits amendments to the clauses of these public bills prior to the completion of second reading and their referral to a committee. (Bills referred to committee before second reading pursuant to Standing Order 73(1) may be amended prior to their being read a second time.) Such amendments may be proposed to the clauses of bills at committee and report stages, and amendments to bills can be indirectly accomplished at third reading by referring the bill back to committee with instructions. It is important to note,however, that this rule does not prohibit the moving of amendments to the motion for second reading. [2]

Section (3) stipulates that all bills shall be referred to a standing, special or legislative committee unless the bill is based on a Supply motion. Second reading of a bill and reference to a committee are included in the same motion. [3]

Section (4) specifies that all bills based on a Supply motion shall be considered after second reading by a Committee of the Whole House.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 73(1), (2), (3) and (4)

The original version of section (2) of Standing Order 73, adopted by the House in December 1867 as Rule 45, specified that every public bill must be read twice in the House before committal or amendment. The text remained unchanged from 1867 to 1968.

In interpreting this rule, Speakers consistently declared amendments to second reading motions out of order if such motions dealt with the provisions of the bill upon which they were moved [4] or anticipated amendments which could be moved in committee. [5] Furthermore, under the old wording of section (2) the Chair has declined to put motions which proposed reference of a bill to a committee before debate at second reading was completed. [6] (However, the subject-matter of a bill could be referred to a committee before second reading.)

In 1963, beginning with the Twenty-Sixth Parliament, various special committees addressed the question of reform of the procedures of the House and among the topics dealt with was that of public bills. [7] Ancillary to the expressed desire for more expeditious procedures on public business was the desire for an expanded role for committees. [8] Amendments to the Standing Orders adopted in 1968 to effect these desired changes resulted in the division of the rule into three sections, which resembled sections (2), (3) and (4) of the current Standing Order. [9]

One section, the precursor to section (2) of the current rule, incorporated the general thrust of 1867 Rule 45 and also appeared to reflect the desire of the Special Committee on Procedure of the House to emphasize as “decisive” the later stages of the passage of a bill. [10] Another section was adopted to specify that all bills, other than those based on Supply or Ways and Means resolutions, would be automatically referred to standing committees for consideration in detail unless the House decided otherwise; provision was also made for bills in certain cases to be referred to special or joint committees. The final section required that bills based on Supply or Ways and Means motions continue to be considered in a Committee of the Whole House.

The text of the Standing Order as adopted in December 1968 remained unchanged until 1985. In 1979, in the Thirty-First Parliament, the Government House Leader tabled a position paper on the reform of Parliament, wherein he noted that there had not been widespread support for a change in House procedures for handling government bills except for proposals for shorter speeches and improvements in the time allocation procedure. [11]

In the Thirty-Second and Thirty-Third Parliaments, however, the dual issues of more expeditious and detailed consideration of legislation and an expanded mandate for committees were again addressed by special committees studying the procedures of the House. One such study in March 1983 recommended the creation of ad hoc legislative committees to undertake complete and specialized examination of bills. [12] Although this report was not concurred in, the reform committee in the following Parliament made a similar recommendation concerning the creation of legislative committees, and further recommended that bills based on Ways and Means motions also be referred to legislative committees. The committee argued that consideration of these complex bills by a specialized group of Members in a smaller committee was preferable to their study in a Committee of the Whole. [13] These two recommendations were included in the amendments to the Standing Orders agreed to on June 27, 1985. [14]

Between 1985 and 1993, the vast majority of bills were referred to legislative committees after second reading. In 1991, the House amended Standing Order 73 to allow some bills, through a complex procedure, to be referred to standing or special committees, though legislative committees continued to be the preferred vehicle. [15] By the end of the Thirty-Fourth Parliament, the legislative committee system was being reconsidered. A report of the Liaison Committee in 1993 recommended eliminating legislative committees, noting that there was a large number of committees given the relatively small size of the House. The report suggested that standing committees would be more suited to studying bills. [16] In 1994, the House adopted the current system which allows bills to be referred to either a standing, special or legislative committee. [17] Even though the provisions for legislative committees are still in place, since 1994 only three bills have been referred to legislative committees. [18]

Perhaps the most significant change to the legislative process in recent times is the possibility of referring bills to committee before second reading. The Special Committee on Reform of the House of Commons had recommended in 1985 that committees be involved earlier in the legislative process, by reviewing draft bills or studying bills after first reading. [19] In the Thirty-Fourth Parliament, the House experimented with the pre-study of legislation, charging certain committees with examining bills after first reading. Members could then formulate recommendations before debate began on the principle of the bill. However, the bills in question still followed the regular legislative process, that is to say debate at second reading and clause-by-clause consideration after second reading. Many Members responded favourably to this process. [20] In 1993, two committees studying procedural reform recommended that bills regularly be referred to committee before second reading. [21] This was seen as a way of giving Members more latitude in shaping legislation, as amendments could be made to alter the scope of the bill before these had been approved in principle at second reading.

Shortly after the opening of the Thirty-Fifth Parliament in 1994, the House adopted a formal procedure to refer bills to committee before second reading. The referral would be subject to a maximum of three hours debate. At the same time, report stage and second reading were combined for bills emerging from this process (see Standing Order 76). [22] Before the first use of the new procedure, a requirement for the Minister to notify opposition parties of the intended referral was added to the Standing Order. [23] Though the original wording referred to public bills instead of only government bills, it was clear that only a Minister could move to refer bills to committee before second reading. [24] The Standing Order was modified in 1995 to specify that this process could be used only for government bills. [25]

The frequency with which the government used this procedure has varied. During the Thirty-Fifth Parliament (1994-97), 25 bills were referred to committee before second reading. The practice fell into disuse over the course of the Thirty-Sixth Parliament (1997-2000) when only five bills followed this procedure. In the first two sessions of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament (2000-03), referral before second reading was used on nine occasions. At the opening of the Third Session of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament in 2004, the government indicated that it intended to regularly refer bills to committee before second reading. [26] During that session, 15 bills were referred before second reading. Fourteen bills have followed this procedure in the first year of the Thirty-Eighth Parliament.

From the time it was adopted, some Members expressed concern that this procedure effectively eliminated second reading debate. In fact, the opposition argued that it was tantamount to a form of time allocation. [27] Given that a greater number of bills now follow this procedure, the rule was provisionally amended in 2005 to extend the debate before referral to five hours. [28]

Standing Order 73(5)
Second reading of borrowing authority bills: two days’ consideration.
73.
(5)
When an Order of the Day is read for the consideration of any bill respecting borrowing authority, a maximum of two sitting days shall be set aside for the consideration of the bill at second reading. On the second of the said days, at fifteen minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings then in progress and shall put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment, every question necessary for the passage of the second reading stage of the bill.

Commentary — Standing Order 73(5)

Borrowing powers are needed by the government to cover any shortfall between its revenues and its expenditures. Authority to borrow is sought by way of a bill which follows the regular legislative process, except that debate at second reading is limited to a maximum of two sitting days. Fifteen minutes before the expiry of Government Orders on the second day, the Speaker interrupts the debate and puts the question on the motion for second reading.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 73(5)

Prior to 1975, it was the custom to include requests for borrowing authority in one of the first appropriation or Supply bills of a new fiscal year. Where circumstances necessitated increasing the level of borrowing authority, the increases were sought by way of subsequent appropriation bills, such as those enacting Supplementary Estimates or Interim Supply. The primary justification for including new borrowing authority in an appropriation act was the contention that borrowing powers to cover any shortfall between revenues and expenditures should be authorized almost automatically, given that both the shortfall and the borrowing requirements were a consequence of actions already approved by Parliament.

Supply procedures made the inclusion of borrowing authority in appropriation bills problematic. The process usually offered no opportunity for Members to debate the borrowing provisions; the borrowing clause was not part of the Estimates, which were discussed in standing committees, and the Supply bills containing the borrowing clauses were generally passed without debate. [1] In 1975, the Speaker ordered a borrowing clause struck from a Supply bill related to Supplementary Estimates on the grounds that, under the rules, its inclusion in a Supply bill based on Supplementary Estimates virtually precluded discussion of the borrowing provisions. [2] After the clause was struck from the appropriation bill, the government introduced a separate bill dealing solely with borrowing authority, which the House agreed to pass after a brief debate. [3]

In the years following the landmark 1975 decision, several different manners of obtaining borrowing authority were employed. In both 1977 and 1978, borrowing provisions were included in the appropriation bill for Interim Supply, though in both cases the bill was subject to debate. [4] In three other cases, in 1977, 1981 and 1982, the government included borrowing provisions in tax bills. This led to some discussion as to whether a request for borrowing authority could be included in a bill based on a ways and means motion. The Speaker ruled this was not objectionable, so long as proper notice was given. [5] Still, in the 1982 case, such a lengthy and protracted debate ensued that the government ultimately withdrew the bill and reintroduced the borrowing provisions separately. [6] Since then, the practice has been to seek borrowing authority in a separate bill.

In 1985, the Minister of Finance tabled a paper that set out recommendations aimed at improving the borrowing process. In particular, it stated that the government should not seek borrowing authority for a fiscal year without first providing Parliament with all relevant details relating to financial requirements. The same paper stressed how important it was that borrowing bills be passed in a timely manner so that the government could carry out an orderly debt program. [7] Though borrowing bills could occasionally be dealt with expeditiously, other times debate became prolonged and the government resorted to time allocation. [8] The Standing Orders were amended in April 1991 to limit debate at second reading on borrowing bills to two sitting days. [9] Though the limitation applies only to second reading, on two occasions since 1991, the House agreed to refer the bill to a Committee of the Whole in order to expedite its passage. [10] In one case, when the Minister of Finance used the second reading debate on a borrowing bill to make a major economic statement, the House agreed to extend the hours of sitting during both days of the debate. [11]

Standing Order 74
Time limit on speeches during second or third reading of government bill.
74.
(1)
When second reading or third reading of a government bill is being considered, no Member except the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition shall speak for more than:
(a)
twenty minutes if the Member is the first to speak on behalf of a recognized party in the first round of speeches;
(b)
twenty minutes following the first round of speeches, if that Member begins to speak within the next five hours of consideration; and
(c)
ten minutes if a Member speaks thereafter.
Period of debate divided in two.
 
(2)
(a)
The Whip of a party may indicate to the Speaker at any time during a debate governed by this Standing Order that one or more of the periods of debate limited pursuant to paragraph (1)(b) of this Standing Order, and allotted to Members of his or her party, are to be divided in two.
(b)
Any Member rising to speak during a debate governed by paragraph (1)(b) of this Standing Order, may indicate to the Speaker that he or she will be dividing his or her time with another Member.

Commentary — Standing Order 74

This Standing Order stipulates particular arrangements for the consideration of government bills at second or third reading, which in some instances act as an exception to the 20-minute limit noted in Standing Order 43. Once again, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are exempted from any time restrictions provided for in this section.

The first Member to speak on behalf of a recognized party in the opening round of speeches, as well as each Member who speaks in the five hours following the opening round, may speak for 20 minutes. Following each speech, there is a ten-minute period for questions and comments. At the conclusion of these five hours of debate, each successive Member speaking during the remainder of debate at the second or third reading stage will be limited to ten minutes, with a five-minute question-and-comment period (see Standing Order 43). The Chair has ruled that time taken by the ringing of bells prior to voting on an adjournment motion should not be counted in the total time allocated to debate on second reading; [1] that the ten-minute question-and-comment period is included in the calculation of the five hours of debate; [2] and that time devoted to points of order must be included in the five hours of debate allowed. [3]

Members limited to a 20-minute speech, except those speaking in the first round, may indicate to the Chair that they wish to share their time with a colleague, either from their own party or from another party. [4] In such cases, each may speak for ten minutes, followed by five minutes for questions and comments. A party Whip may also indicate that Members of his or her party will be sharing their 20-minute speaking time over the course of a debate. Members speaking in the first round, as well as Members limited to ten-minute speeches after the above-mentioned five-hour period, may only split their time with the consent of the House. [5] The Chair has ruled that when a Member who is sharing his or her time moves a superseding motion, this puts an end to their speaking time and the Member with whom the time had been shared loses his or her spot. [6]

Historical Summary — Standing Order 74

From 1927 to 1982, the length of speeches during the second and third reading debate on a government bill was governed by what is now Standing Order 43. (Before 1927, there were no time limits on speeches. [7]) No special provisions applied, and in general all speakers had 40 minutes, except the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, a Minister moving a government order and the Member speaking in reply after the Minister, all of whom had unlimited time.

In November 1982, however, the Special Committee on Standing Orders and Procedure recommended that the length of speeches during second reading of a government bill be limited.

The first three speakers would be limited to 40 minutes each and their speeches were not to be followed by the ten-minute exchanges. For the following eight hours of consideration, speeches would be 20 minutes, followed by the ten-minute question-and-comment exchanges. Thereafter, until second reading was complete, speeches would be limited to ten minutes with no provision for further exchanges. These proposals were adopted by the House on November 29, 1982. [8]

The Standing Order remained unchanged until 1991, when several important amendments were made. [9] Perhaps most significantly, the rule was extended to apply to third reading of government bills, which had still been subject to the provisions of Standing Order 43. The eight-hour period for 20-minute speeches was reduced to five hours. In addition, only the first two speakers were given 40 minutes, consistent with the principles of Standing Order 43 where only the Minister and the Member replying are afforded extra speaking time. The House restored the 40-minute speech for the third speaker in 1994, recognizing that the House was composed of three parties. [10]

In both the Thirty-Sixth and Thirty-Seventh Parliament, the House was composed of five parties, which led some to argue that the fourth and fifth parties were not being treated fairly. Noting that 40 minutes was a lengthy period, which was seldom used in its entirety, and noting the valuable exchange of views in the question-and-comment period, the House eliminated the provision for three 40-minute speeches in 2003. [11] The first person to speak on behalf of a recognized party would be limited to 20 minutes, followed by a ten-minute question-and-comment period. After the first round of speakers, the five-hour period would begin.

Section 74(2)(a), which permits the Whip to indicate that Members of his or her party will be sharing their speaking time, was added in 1991, at the same time as a similar provision was added to Standing Order 43. [12] In the months before the rule was formalized, Members frequently asked for the consent of the House to share their speaking time with a colleague, though consent was not always granted. [13] By sharing time, a party could have more of its Members participate in debate while still respecting the usual rotation. Though party Whips occasionally rose to indicate that the Members of their party would be sharing their time, since the rule was adopted, Members regularly took it upon themselves to notify the Chair that they were sharing their time with a colleague. [14] Speaker Parent ruled in 1999 that the practice had become so well-established that he was hesitant to insist that only Whips use this prerogative. [15] He expressed hope that a committee would consider rewording the rule to make it more consistent with the practice, but it was only in 2005 that section 74(2)(b) was added. [16]

Another change made in 2005 was to remove the reference to the question-and-comment period from this Standing Order, as it is now provided for in Standing Order 43. [17]

Consideration by Committee

Standing Order 75(1)
Proceedings on bills in any committee.
75.
(1)
In proceedings in any committee of the House upon bills, the preamble is first postponed, and if the first clause contains only a short title it is also postponed; then every other clause is considered by the committee in its proper order; the first clause (if it contains only a short title), the preamble and the title are to be last considered.

Commentary — Standing Order 75(1)

A bill is sent to committee for study so that Members may examine the wording and effect of each clause and make any amendments they deem necessary or useful. Section (1) of Standing Order 75 stipulates the order in which the various components of a public bill are considered:  the preamble, if one exists, is postponed; then the first clause is also postponed, only if it contains a short title; and the remaining clauses are considered consecutively as printed in the bill. After the various clauses are adopted, consideration is given to the first clause (if postponed), the preamble and, finally, the title. Section (1) also specifies that this order of consideration applies to proceedings in all committees studying bills.

Standing Order 75(2)
Proceedings reported.
75.
(2)
All amendments made in any committee shall be reported to the House. Every bill reported from any committee, whether amended or not, shall be received by the House on report thereof.

Commentary — Standing Order 75(2)

Once a committee has terminated its consideration of a bill, Standing Order 75(2) states that the committee must report any amendments it has made directly to the House. This report is normally presented in the House by the Committee Chair, or a committee member designated by the Chair, during Routine Proceedings when the item “Presenting Reports from Committees” is called by the Speaker. Speakers have consistently ruled that, unless the House orders otherwise, it is up to the committee to decide when it reports the bill. [1] The House has specified that private Members’ bills must be reported within 60 sitting days, unless the House grants an extension (see Standing Order 97.1).

Report Stage At Second Reading

Standing Order 76(1)
Not before third sitting day.
76.
(1)
The report stage of any bill reported by any standing, special or legislative committee before the bill has been read a second time shall not be taken into consideration prior to the third sitting day following the presentation of the said report, unless otherwise ordered by the House.

Commentary — Standing Order 76(1)

At report stage, all Members of the House are given the opportunity to review a bill which has been studied by a standing, legislative or special committee. Following the presentation of a report on a bill referred to committee before second reading, a minimum period of three sitting days is provided by Standing Order 76(1) before the House can commence its consideration of the bill at report stage. During this period, Members may file notices of motions to amend the bill, pursuant to Standing Order 76(2).

Standing Order 76(2)
Notice to amend.
76.
(2)
If, not later than the second sitting day prior to the consideration of the report stage of a bill that has not yet been read a second time, written notice is given of any motion to amend, delete, insert or restore any clause in a bill, it shall be printed on the Notice Paper. When the same amendment is put on notice by more than one Member, that notice shall be printed once, under the name of each Member who has submitted it. If the Speaker decides that an amendment is out of order, it shall be returned to the Member without having appeared on the Notice Paper.

Commentary — Standing Order 76(2)

Section (2) deals with the notice requirement for report stage motions. Written notice of such motions must be submitted two sitting days before the bill is first considered at report stage if the bill was referred to committee before second reading. No notice may be filed on or after the day the bill is considered at report stage. [2] If a notice is filed the day before report stage begins, it is printed in the Notice Paper but the Speaker will not allow the motion to proceed as the notice requirement has not been met. [3] One practical problem this poses for Members is that, outside of the three-sitting day waiting period prescribed in Standing Order 76(1), the particular day that report stage commences is normally not known. To deal with this situation, most notices are filed as soon as possible following presentation of a committee’s report on a bill.

More than one Member may give notice of the same report stage motion. When this occurs, if the motion is admissible, the names of all of the sponsors appear on the Notice Paper. [4] As provided in Standing Order 76(5), it is up to the Speaker to decide which Member will move the motion. In practice, preference is usually given to the Member who first submitted the notice.

This section of the Standing Order also limits report stage motions to one clause per motion. [5] Particular attention should be drawn to the fact that a motion to delete a clause at report stage is in order, while it is not in committee. [6] In essence, a motion to delete can be used as a method to permit Members to debate the merits of a particular clause and to vote against the clause if they wish. [7]

Every motion is examined by the Speaker to determine if it is procedurally acceptable. If it is found to be inadmissible, the motion is returned to the sponsor with a written explanation of why it is not procedurally acceptable. The motion does not appear on the Notice Paper.

Standing Order 76(3)
Recommendation of Governor General.
76.
(3)
When a recommendation of the Governor General is required in relation to any amendment of which notice has been given pursuant to section (2) of this Standing Order, notice shall be given of the said Recommendation no later than the sitting day before the day on which the report stage is to commence and such notice shall be printed on the Notice Paper along with the amendment to which it pertains.

Commentary — Standing Order 76(3)

While two sitting days’ notice must be given for report stage motions, section (3) stipulates that notice of a Royal Recommendation (to authorize the expenditure of funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund) may be given up until the sitting day before report stage begins. This means the Royal Recommendation need not be submitted at the same time as the motion; it need only appear on the Notice Paper before report stage begins. If no Royal Recommendation has been placed on the Notice Paper by the time debate begins, the motion will not be allowed to proceed.

Standing Order 76(4)
Amendment as to form only.
76.
(4)
An amendment, in relation to form only in a government bill, may be proposed by a Minister of the Crown without notice, but debate thereon may not be extended to the provisions of the clause or clauses to be amended.
NOTE: The purpose of this section is to facilitate the incorporation into a bill of amendments of a strictly consequential nature flowing from the acceptance of other amendments. No waiver of notice would be permitted in relation to any amendment which would change the intent of the bill, no matter how slightly, beyond the effect of the initial amendment.

Commentary — Standing Order 76(4)

An exception to the notice requirements is provided in section (4). A Minister of the Crown may propose a report stage motion without notice relating only to the form of a government bill. Debate is restricted to the motion. The Chair is charged with the responsibility of determining whether the motion is consequential or substantial. [8] The “Note” clarifies the purpose of section (4) as providing a mechanism to permit consequential amendments only.

Standing Order 76(5)
Speaker’s power to select amendments.
76.
(5)
The Speaker shall have the power to select or combine amendments or clauses to be proposed at the report stage and may, if he or she thinks fit, call upon any Member who has given notice of an amendment to give such explanation of the subject of the amendment as may enable the Speaker to form a judgement upon it. If an amendment has been selected that has been submitted by more than one Member, the Speaker, after consultation, shall designate which Member shall propose it.
NOTE: The Speaker will not normally select for consideration any motion previously ruled out of order in committee, unless the reason for its being ruled out of order was that it required a recommendation of the Governor General, in which case the amendment may be selected only if such Recommendation has been placed on notice pursuant to this Standing Order. The Speaker will normally only select motions that were not or could not be presented in committee. A motion, previously defeated in committee, will only be selected if the Speaker judges it to be of such exceptional significance as to warrant a further consideration at the report stage. The Speaker will not normally select for separate debate a repetitive series of motions which are interrelated and, in making the selection, shall consider whether individual Members will be able to express their concerns during the debate on another motion.
For greater certainty, the purpose of this Standing Order is, primarily, to provide Members who were not members of the committee with an opportunity to have the House consider specific amendments they wish to propose. It is not meant to be a reconsideration of the committee stage.
For greater clarity, the Speaker will not select for debate a motion or series of motions of a repetitive, frivolous or vexatious nature or of a nature that would serve merely to prolong unnecessarily proceedings at the report stage and, in exercising this power of selection, the Speaker shall be guided by the practice followed in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.

Commentary — Standing Order 76(5)

Not all report stage motions published on the Notice Paper go forward for debate in the House. Section (5) gives the Speaker the authority to select those which will be debated. This is done to avoid a repetition of committee stage and to ensure that report stage retains its purpose, which is to enable the House to examine the committee’s work on a bill.

The attached “Note” specifies certain guidelines for the Speaker in selecting amendments. A motion previously ruled out of order in the committee stage of the bill’s consideration will normally not be selected at report stage. Since the rules relating to admissibility at both stages are similar, such a motion is likely also to be found inadmissible at report stage and will thus not be eligible for selection. An exception is made for motions requiring a Royal Recommendation, which are inadmissible at committee stage but admissible at report stage. However, if the necessary Royal Recommendation has not been placed on notice by the deadline required in section (3), the motion in question will not be selected. [9] A second exception, which is not mentioned in this section, is that a motion to delete a clause is inadmissible at committee stage (since it is possible to vote against the clause) but is admissible at report stage.

Another guideline is that a motion defeated in committee will be selected only if the Speaker finds it is of exceptional significance and warrants further consideration. The Speaker has encouraged Members who believe their motions to be of exceptional significance to send a letter of explanation to that effect when submitting their motions. [10] Motions which were considered in committee and subsequently withdrawn are also generally not selected. Finally, a motion will normally not be selected at report stage if it could have been presented in committee and was not. In selecting motions, the Speaker is also mindful of situations where Members can express their concerns during debate on another motion.

The second paragraph of the “Note” affirms the rationale behind report stage. The wording indicates that the primary purpose of report stage is not a reconsideration of the committee stage. In order to avoid having report stage duplicate committee stage, the Speaker has encouraged all Members to avail themselves fully of the opportunity to present amendments in committee. [11]

The final “Note” emphasizes that the Speaker will not select motions which are repetitive, frivolous, vexatious or serve only to prolong debate unnecessarily. With regard to these criteria alone, the Speaker may be guided by the practice followed by the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. [12]

In current practice, motions which further amend an amendment adopted by the committee, or which make consequential changes to the bill based on an amendment adopted in committee are usually selected by the Speaker, as are motions to delete a clause.

In addition to granting the power to select motions, this section also allows the Speaker to group motions for debate and to determine the voting arrangements for each group. Motions are grouped for debate according to two factors: the content and the place where they are to be inserted in the bill. Motions are grouped according to content if they can form the subject of a single debate; if, once adopted, they will have the same effect in different places of the bill; or if they relate to the same provision or similar provisions of the bill. Motions are combined according to the place where they are to be inserted in the bill when they relate to the same line or lines. These motions will then be part of a single scheme for voting purposes.

When the Speaker selects and groups report stage motions for debate, he or she also decides on how they will be grouped for voting. The Speaker determines the order in which the motions will be called and the effect of one vote on the others (for example, if the vote on one motion can be applied to another motion). The purpose of the voting scheme is to avoid the House having to vote twice on the same issue.

The Speaker delivers his or her decision regarding report stage motions after the order for the consideration of report stage of the bill has been read. The Speaker informs the House of the motions that he or she has selected and grouped for debate as well as the voting arrangements and, where applicable, of the motions that have not been selected, stating the reasons.

In cases where two or more Members have submitted the same motion, the Speaker decides which Member will move it. The Speaker may consult with the Members involved, although, in practice, preference is usually given to the Member who submitted the notice first.

Standing Order 76(6)
Debate on the amendments.
76.
(6)
When the Order of the Day for the consideration of a report stage is called, any amendment proposed pursuant to this Standing Order shall be open to debate and amendment.

Commentary — Standing Order 76(6)

Section (6) provides that all report stage motions set down for consideration on the Notice Paper under Standing Order 76(2) are subject to debate and are open to amendment (and subamendment). [13] Such motions are considered as part of the order of the day for report stage, although the motion may not formally have been proposed from the Chair. [14]

Standing Order 76(7)
Limits on speeches.
76.
(7)
When debate is permitted, the first Member from each of the recognized parties speaking during proceedings on the first amendment proposed at report stage may speak for not more than twenty minutes, and no other Member shall speak more than once or longer than ten minutes during proceedings on any amendment at that stage.

Commentary — Standing Order 76(7)

Standing Order 76(7) imposes restrictions on individual Members during proceedings at report stage. It prohibits Members from speaking more than once on any report stage motion or grouping of motions. [15] When report stage begins, the first speaker of each recognized party is accorded 20 minutes, while the rule imposes a ten-minute limit on all subsequent speeches. There is a question-and comment-period after each speech (see Standing Order 43). [16]

Standing Order 76(8)
Division deferred.
76.
(8)
When a recorded division has been demanded on any amendment proposed during the report stage of a bill, the Speaker may defer the calling in of the Members for the purpose of recording the “yeas” and “nays” until more or all subsequent amendments to the bill have been considered. A recorded division or divisions may be so deferred from sitting to sitting.
NOTE: In cases when there are an unusually great number of amendments for consideration at the report stage, the Speaker may, after consultation with the representatives of the parties, direct that deferred divisions be held before all amendments have been taken into consideration.

Commentary — Standing Order 76(8)

Recorded divisions on report stage motions, amendments or subamendments may be deferred by the Speaker pursuant to Standing Order 76(8). [17] If a recorded vote is demanded on any report stage motion, the Speaker is authorized to defer the division until all the report stage motions, or a certain number, have been considered. Section (8) also provides that such divisions can be deferred from sitting to sitting until no further motions are to be considered.

The “Note” specifies that when there are an unusually great number of motions on a particular bill, the Speaker may order that a certain number of deferred divisions be held before the House has considered all of the motions. [18] Debate can then arise on the remaining motions and another set of deferred divisions can be taken at a later time.

Standing Order 76(9)
Motion when report stage concluded.
76.
(9)
When proceedings at the report stage on any bill that has not been read a second time have been concluded, a motion “That the bill, as amended, be concurred in and be read a second time” or “That the bill be concurred in and read a second time” shall be put and forthwith disposed of, without amendment or debate.

Commentary — Standing Order 76(9)

When all the report stage motions have been disposed of, a further motion is proposed from the Chair. This motion is not only for concurrence of the bill at report stage, but also for the second reading of the bill.

In the case where the bill has not been amended either at the committee stage or at the report stage, the motion “That the bill be concurred in at report stage and read a second time” is put immediately and decided without amendment or debate. [19] In the case where the bill was amended at the committee stage but not at the report stage, the motion “That the bill, as amended, be concurred in at the report stage and read a second time” is put immediately and decided without amendment or debate. [20] In the case where the bill was amended at both the committee stage and the report stage, the motion “That the bill, as amended, be concurred in at report stage with further amendments and read a second time” is put immediately and decided without amendment or debate. [21] In the case where the bill was not amended at the committee stage but was amended at the report stage, the motion “That the bill be concurred in at the report stage with amendments and read a second time” shall be put and disposed of immediately without amendment or debate. [22]

If report stage is subject to a time allocation order, the concurrence motion must also be decided within those time constraints.

Standing Order 76(10)
Third reading.
76.
(10)
The report stage of a bill pursuant to this Standing Order shall be deemed to be an integral part of the second reading stage of the bill. When a bill has been concurred in and read a second time in accordance with the procedures set forth in this Standing Order, it shall be set down for a third reading and passage at the next sitting of the House.

Commentary — Standing Order 76(10)

Section (10) emphasizes that, for bills referred to committee before second reading, report stage and second reading are combined. In agreeing to the bill at report stage, the House also gives the bill second reading, thereby approving the principle of the bill.

When a bill is concurred in at report stage and read a second time, the Speaker will ask, “When shall the bill be read a third time?” The earliest that third reading can be considered is at the next sitting, whether any motion to amend the bill at report stage has been considered or not. This is in accordance with Standing Order 71, which states that each reading stage of a bill must occur on a different sitting day. In cases where no report stage motions have been submitted, the House may proceed immediately to the third reading stage after the adoption of the concurrence and second reading motion, but this may only be done by unanimous consent. [23] This differs from bills where report stage takes place after second reading (see Standing Order 76.1(11)).

Report Stage After Second Reading

Standing Order 76.1(1)
Not before second sitting day.
76.1.
(1)
The report stage of any bill reported by any standing, special or legislative committee after the bill has been read a second time shall not be taken into consideration prior to the second sitting day following the presentation of the said report, unless otherwise ordered by the House.

Commentary — Standing Order 76.1(1)

At report stage, all Members of the House are given the opportunity to review a bill which has been studied by a standing, legislative or special committee. Following the presentation of a committee report on a bill that has received second reading, a minimum period of two sitting days is provided by Standing Order 76.1(1) before the House can commence its consideration of the bill at report stage. During this period, Members may file notices of motions to amend the bill, pursuant to Standing Order 76.1(2). It is important to note that bills reported from Committee of the Whole are not subject to report stage amendment or debate.

Standing Order 76.1(2)
Notice to amend.
76.1.
(2)
If, not later than the sitting day prior to the consideration of the report stage of a bill that has been read a second time, written notice is given of any motion to amend, delete, insert or restore any clause in a bill, it shall be printed on the Notice Paper. When the same amendment is put on notice by more than one Member, that notice shall be printed once, under the name of each Member who has submitted it. If the Speaker decides that an amendment is out of order, it shall be returned to the Member without having appeared on the Notice Paper.

Commentary — Standing Order 76.1(2)

Section (2) deals with the notice requirement for report stage motions. Written notice of such motions must be submitted the sitting day before a bill is first considered at report stage if the bill was referred to committee after second reading. If consideration begins on the first day following an adjournment period, notice may be given up until the Thursday before the House resumes sitting (see Standing Order 54(2)). No notice may be filed on or after the day the bill is considered at report stage. [24] One practical problem this poses for Members is that, outside of the two sitting-day waiting period prescribed in Standing Order 76.1(1), the particular day that report stage commences is normally not known. To deal with this situation, most notices are filed as soon as possible following presentation of a committee’s report on a bill.

More than one Member may give notice of the same report stage motion. When this occurs, if the motion is admissible, the names of all of the sponsors appear on the Notice Paper. [25] As provided in Standing Order 76.1(5), it is up to the Speaker to decide which Member will move the motion. In practice, preference is usually given to the Member who first submitted the notice.

This section of the Standing Order also limits report stage motions to one clause per motion. [26] Particular attention should be drawn to the fact that a motion to delete a clause at report stage is in order, while it is not in committee. [27] In essence, a motion to delete can be used as a method to permit Members to debate the merits of a particular clause and to vote against the clause if they wish. [28]

Every motion is examined by the Speaker to determine if it is procedurally acceptable. If it is found to be inadmissible, the motion is returned to the sponsor with a written explanation of why it is not procedurally acceptable. The motion does not appear on the Notice Paper.

Standing Order 76.1(3)
Recommendation of Governor General.
76.1.
(3)
When a recommendation of the Governor General is required in relation to any amendment to be proposed at the report stage of a bill that has been read a second time, at least twenty-four hours’ written notice shall be given of the said Recommendation and proposed amendment.

Commentary — Standing Order 76.1(3)

Section (3) stipulates a 24-hour written notice requirement in the case of a financial report stage motion requiring a Royal Recommendation; i.e., in the case of a motion proposing to authorize the expenditure of funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. As with other notice requirements, it need not be a full 24 hours, but rather a single sitting day. If no Royal Recommendation has been placed on the Notice Paper by the time debate begins, the motion will not be allowed to proceed.

Standing Order 76.1(4)
Amendment as to form only.
76.1.
(4)
An amendment, in relation to form only in a government bill, may be proposed by a Minister of the Crown without notice, but debate thereon may not be extended to the provisions of the clause or clauses to be amended.
NOTE: The purpose of the section is to facilitate the incorporation into a bill of amendments of a strictly consequential nature flowing from the acceptance of other amendments. No waiver of notice would be permitted in relation to any amendment which would change the intent of the bill, no matter how slightly, beyond the effect of the initial amendment.

Commentary — Standing Order 76.1(4)

An exception to the notice requirements is provided in section (4). A Minister of the Crown may propose a report stage motion without notice relating only to the form of a government bill. Debate is restricted to the motion. The Chair is charged with the responsibility of determining whether the motion is consequential or substantial. [29] The “Note” clarifies the purpose of section (4) as providing a mechanism to permit consequential amendments only.

Standing Order 76.1(5)
Speaker’s power to select amendments.
76.1.
(5)
The Speaker shall have power to select or combine amendments or clauses to be proposed at the report stage and may, if he or she thinks fit, call upon any Member who has given notice of an amendment to give such explanation of the subject of the amendment as may enable the Speaker to form a judgement upon it. If an amendment has been selected that has been submitted by more than one Member, the Speaker, after consultation, shall designate which Member shall propose it.
NOTE: The Speaker will not normally select for consideration by the House any motion previously ruled out of order in committee and will normally only select motions which were not or could not be presented in committee. A motion, previously defeated in committee, will only be selected if the Speaker judges it to be of such exceptional significance as to warrant a further consideration at the report stage. The Speaker will not normally select for separate debate a repetitive series of motions which are interrelated and, in making the selection, shall consider whether individual Members will be able to express their concerns during the debate on another motion.
For greater certainty, the purpose of this Standing Order is, primarily, to provide Members who were not members of the committee, with an opportunity to have the House consider specific amendments they wish to propose. It is not meant to be a reconsideration of the committee stage of a bill.
For greater clarity, the Speaker will not select for debate a motion or series of motions of a repetitive, frivolous or vexatious nature or of a nature that would serve merely to prolong unnecessarily proceedings at the report stage and, in exercising this power of selection, the Speaker shall be guided by the practice followed in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.

Commentary — Standing Order 76.1(5)

Not all report stage motions published on the Notice Paper go forward for debate in the House. Section (5) gives the Speaker the authority to select those which will be debated. This is done to avoid a repetition of committee stage and to ensure that report stage retains its purpose, which is to enable the House to examine the committee’s work on a bill.

The attached “Note” specifies certain guidelines for the Speaker in selecting amendments. A motion previously ruled out of order in the committee stage of the bill’s consideration will normally not be selected at report stage. Since the rules relating to admissibility at both stages are similar, such a motion is likely to be found also inadmissible at report stage and will thus not be eligible for selection. Though not mentioned in this section, exception is made for motions requiring a Royal Recommendation, which are inadmissible at committee stage but admissible at report stage. However, if the necessary Royal Recommendation has not been placed on notice by the deadline required in section (3), the motion in question will not be selected. [30] A second exception is that a motion to delete a clause is inadmissible at committee stage (since it is possible to vote against the clause) but is admissible at report stage.

Another guideline is that a motion defeated in committee will be selected only if the Speaker finds it is of exceptional significance and warrants further consideration. The Speaker has encouraged Members who believe their motions are of exceptional significance to send a letter of explanation to that effect when submitting their motions. [31] Motions which were considered in committee and subsequently withdrawn are also generally not selected. Finally, a motion will not normally be selected at report stage if it could have been presented in committee and was not. In selecting motions, the Speaker is also mindful of situations where Members can express their concerns during debate on another motion.

The second paragraph of the “Note” affirms the rationale behind report stage. The wording indicates that the primary purpose of report stage is not a reconsideration of the committee stage. In order to avoid having report stage duplicate committee stage, the Speaker has encouraged all Members to avail themselves fully of the opportunity to present amendments in committee. [32]

The final “Note” emphasizes that the Speaker will not select motions which are repetitive, frivolous, vexatious or serve only to prolong debate unnecessarily. With regard to these criteria only, the Speaker may be guided by the practice followed by the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. [33]

In current practice, motions which further amend an amendment adopted by the committee, or which make consequential changes to the bill based on an amendment adopted in committee are usually selected by the Speaker, as are motions to delete a clause.

In addition to granting the power to select motions, this section also allows the Speaker to group motions for debate and to determine the voting arrangements for each group. Motions are grouped for debate according to two factors: the content and the place where they are to be inserted in the bill. Motions are grouped according to content if they can form the subject of a single debate; if, once adopted, they will have the same effect in different places of the bill; or if they relate to the same provision or similar provisions of the bill. Motions are combined according to the place where they are to be inserted in the bill when they relate to the same line or lines. These motions will then be part of a single scheme for voting purposes.

When the Speaker selects and groups report stage motions for debate, he or she also decides on how they will be grouped for voting. The Speaker determines the order in which the motions will be called and the effect of one vote on the others (for example, if the vote on one motion can be applied to another motion). The purpose of the voting scheme is to avoid the House having to vote twice on the same issue.

The Speaker delivers his or her decision regarding report stage motions after the order for the consideration of report stage of the bill has been read. The Speaker informs the House of the motions that he or she has selected and grouped for debate as well as the voting arrangements and, where applicable, of the motions that have not been selected, stating the reasons.

In cases where two or more Members have submitted the same motion, the Speaker decides which Member will move it. The Speaker may consult with the Members involved, although, in practice, preference is usually given to the Member who submitted the notice first.   

Standing Order 76.1(6)
Debate on the amendments.
76.1.
(6)
When the Order of the Day for the consideration of a report stage is called, any amendment of which notice has been given in accordance with this Standing Order shall be open to debate and amendment.

Commentary — Standing Order 76.1(6)

Section (6) provides that all motions set down for consideration on the Notice Paper under Standing Order 76(2) are subject to debate and are open to amendment (and subamendment). [34] Such motions are considered as part of the order of the day for report stage, although the motion may not formally have been proposed from the Chair. [35]

Standing Order 76.1(7)
Limits on speeches.
76.1.
(7)
When debate is permitted, no Member shall speak more than once or longer than ten minutes during proceedings on any amendment at that stage.

Commentary — Standing Order 76.1(7)

Standing Order 76.1(7) imposes restrictions on individual Members during proceedings at report stage. It prohibits Members from speaking more than once on any report stage motion or grouping of motions. [36] The rule also imposes a ten-minute limit on such speeches. Each speech is followed by a five-minute question-and-comment period (see Standing Order 43). [37]

Standing Order 76.1(8)
Division deferred.
76.1.
(8)
When a recorded division has been demanded on any amendment proposed during the report stage of a bill, the Speaker may defer the calling in of the Members for the purpose of recording the “yeas” and “nays” until more or all subsequent amendments to the bill have been considered. A recorded division or divisions may be so deferred from sitting to sitting.
NOTE: In cases when there are an unusually great number of amendments for consideration at the report stage, the Speaker may, after consultation with the representatives of the parties, direct that deferred divisions be held before all amendments have been taken into consideration.

Commentary — Standing Order 76.1(8)

Recorded divisions on report stage motions, amendments or subamendments may be deferred by the Speaker pursuant to Standing Order 76.1(8). [38] If a recorded vote is demanded on any report stage motion, the Speaker is authorized to defer the division until all the report stage motions, or a certain number, have been considered. Section (8) also provides that such divisions can be deferred from sitting to sitting until no further motions are to be considered.

The “Note” specifies that when there is an unusually large number of amendments on a particular bill, the Speaker may order that a certain number of deferred divisions be held before the House has considered all of the amendments. [39] Debate can then arise on the remaining motions and another set of deferred divisions can be taken at a later time.

Standing Order 76.1(9)
Motion when report stage concluded.
76.1.
(9)
When proceedings at the report stage on any bill that has been read a second time have been concluded, a motion “That the bill, as amended, be concurred in” or “That the bill be concurred in” shall be put and forthwith disposed of, without amendment or debate.

Commentary — Standing Order 76.1(9)

When all the report stage motions have been disposed of, a further motion is proposed from the Chair.

In the case where the bill has not been amended either at the committee stage or at the report stage, the motion “That the bill be concurred in at report stage” is put immediately and decided without amendment or debate. [40] In the case where the bill was amended at the committee stage but not at the report stage, the motion “That the bill, as amended, be concurred in at the report stage” is put immediately and decided without amendment or debate. [41] In the case where the bill was amended at both the committee stage and the report stage, the motion “That the bill, as amended, be concurred in at report stage, with further amendments” is put immediately and decided without amendment or debate. [42] In the case where the bill was not amended at the committee stage but was amended at the report stage, the motion “That the bill be concurred in at the report stage, with amendments” shall be put and disposed of immediately without amendment or debate. [43]

If report stage is subject to a time allocation order, the concurrence motion must also be decided within those time constraints.

Standing Order 76.1(10)
Third reading after debate or amendment.
76.1.
(10)
When a bill that has been read a second time has been amended or debate has taken place thereon at the report stage, the same shall be set down for a third reading and passage at the next sitting of the House.

Commentary — Standing Order 76.1(10)

When a bill is concurred in at report stage, the Speaker will ask, “When shall the bill be read a third time?” When any motion to amend the bill at report stage has been considered, the earliest that third reading can be considered is at the next sitting. Section (11) provides for cases where no report stage motions to amend are moved.

Standing Order 76.1(11)
Third reading when no amendment or after Committee of the Whole.
76.1.
(11)
When a bill that has been read a second time has been reported from a standing, special or legislative committee, and no amendment has been proposed thereto at the report stage, and in the case of a bill reported from a Committee of the Whole, with or without amendment, a motion, “That the bill be now read a third time and passed”, may be made in the same sitting.

Commentary — Standing Order 76.1(11)

Where no motion to amend the bill has been moved at report stage in the case of bills reported from standing, special or legislative committees, or where the bill was reported from a Committee of the Whole, with or without amendment, section (11) stipulates that a motion for the bill to be read a third time may be made in the same sitting. [44] The interpretation of section (11), however, must take into account the prohibition noted in Standing Order 71 that the three readings of a bill should occur on different days.

Standing Order 76.1(12)
Report stage of bill from a Committee of the Whole.
76.1.
(12)
The consideration of the report stage of a bill from a Committee of the Whole shall be received and forthwith disposed of, without amendment or debate.

Commentary — Standing Order 76.1(12)

Section (12) stipulates that bills considered in a Committee of the Whole House are not debatable nor amendable at report stage. The report is received and disposed of immediately, without amendment or debate, and is followed by a motion to concur in the bill.

Historical Summary — Standing Orders 75, 76 and 76.1

At Confederation, the original Rules 46 and 47 specified the proceedings related to the study of bills in Committee of the Whole and the procedure for reporting the bill back to the House. Rule 46 directed that, in Committee of the Whole, consideration of the preamble be postponed while each clause was considered in its proper order; the preamble and title were considered last. Rule 47 provided that amendments made in the committee be reported by the Chair to the House, which would receive the report forthwith. The rule then provided for debate and amendment to the bill before it was ordered for third reading. [45] If the bill had not been amended in committee, it would be ordered for third reading at a time decided by the House.

The two rules remained unchanged until 1955, when the text of the 1867 Rule 47 was revised. [46] Since the practice had developed of amending bills only in standing or special committees or in Committee of the Whole, the Standing Order was changed to require that reports from the Chair of Committees of the Whole be received and the motion for concurrence in the amendments disposed of forthwith; the bill would then be ordered for third reading at the next sitting of the House. This change was reflected as section (2) of 1955 Standing Order 78.

In October 1964, a provisional amendment was made to section (1) of Standing Order 75 and continued in effect until 1968. The Special Committee on Procedure and Organization concluded that it would be more appropriate for the first clause of a bill, when it contained only a short title, to be considered by the Committee of the Whole House after the other clauses had been considered, rather than at the beginning of the committee stage. [47]

The House substantially revised the legislative process in December 1968 by adopting permanent amendments to the Standing Orders concerning public bills. [48] The special committee that recommended the changes wished to eliminate obsolete procedures, to provide more meaningful opportunities for Members to participate in the consideration and shaping of a bill and to identify the crucial stages in a bill’s passage. Among the major changes was the revival of the report stage as a debating stage in the legislative process, a reduced time limit on the majority of speeches made in that stage, and authority for the Speaker to select and combine amendments at that stage. [49]

These Standing Orders remained unchanged until 1982, when an amendment was adopted regarding the length of speeches. Standing Order 76(7) originally placed a 20-minute restriction on speeches during debate at report stage, but also provided for certain exemptions. The Special Committee on Standing Orders and Procedure noted that too much time was being used at this stage to reconsider earlier proposals, which led the House to limit all speeches at report stage to ten minutes. [50] A minor change was adopted in June 1985, following the establishment of legislative committees for detailed study of bills, by adding the term “legislative” to Standing Order 76(1) and (11). [51]

Another change was made to these Standing Orders in 1991, so that the delay specified in sections (1) and (2) was expressed in sitting days instead of hours. [52] Though any 48-hour provision is usually interpreted as two sitting days, Members expressed concern that bills reported from committee on a Friday could technically be considered at report stage on Monday, leaving little time to prepare motions. [53] Even with this change, Members still occasionally argued that the time to prepare report stage motions was too short. [54]

With the establishment in February 1994 of a procedure to refer certain bills to committee before second reading (see Standing Order 73(1)), the House also made provisions to allow report stage and second reading to be done simultaneously. The existing Standing Order 76 was renumbered as Standing Order 76.1, and a new Standing Order 76 was adopted for bills that had not yet received second reading. [55] While the provisions of both Standing Orders are quite similar, there are a few distinctions. Notably, the delays expressed in sections (1) and (2) are a day longer for bills not yet read a second time. At the same time as these changes were adopted, provisions were made for when two Members submit the same motion and an additional note was added in section (8) of both Standing Orders to allow the Speaker more latitude in the scheduling of deferred divisions on report stage motions. In June 1994, the House also agreed to specify in section (2) that inadmissible amendments would not appear on the Notice Paper. [56]

With an increased number of report stage motions over the years, the Speaker’s power of selection became the source of much discussion. In February 1986, the House adopted a “Note” to be added immediately after Standing Order 76(5), [57] incorporating many of the recommendations of the Special Committee on the Reform of the House of Commons. [58] The note specifies that report stage is not meant to be a reconsideration of the committee stage, [59] but to provide Members not on the committee that studied the bill with an opportunity to have the House consider specific motions. The “Note” also set guidelines for the Speaker when selecting motions for consideration by the House at report stage, such as not selecting motions defeated or ruled inadmissible at committee. While successive Speakers occasionally did exercise this authority, [60] the addition of these notes did little to stem the tide of report stage motions. In practice, most report stage motions continued to be moved by party critics who had been members of the committee studying the bill. To circumvent the provisions of the note, Members could choose to present all of their amendments at report stage rather than in committee. It was not uncommon to have a very large number of report stage motions submitted for contentious bills. [61]

The situation came to a head in the Second Session of the Thirty-Sixth Parliament when, faced with a few particularly controversial bills, Members filled the Notice Paper with hundreds of amendments. Much of the House’s time was consumed, first with the reading of these motions, followed in two cases by lengthy voting sessions that continued over three calendar days. [62] In response to this situation, the House adopted an additional “Note” to section (5) in 2001 instructing the Speaker not to select motions that were repetitive, vexatious, frivolous or that served only to prolong proceedings unnecessarily. [63] Shortly thereafter, Speaker Milliken made a statement indicating that he would make more vigorous use of the Speaker’s powers of selection and that, in particular, he would no longer select motions that could have been moved in committee. He expressed the hope that report stage would return to its original purpose, namely for the House to consider the committee’s report and do whatever work it deemed necessary to complete the detailed study of legislation. [64] Since that time, there has been a marked decrease in the number of motions presented at report stage.

Senate Amendments

Standing Order 77
Written notice of motion.
77.
(1)
Twenty-four hours’ written notice shall be given by a Member proposing any motion respecting Senate amendments to a bill.
When Senate and House disagree.
 
(2)
In cases in which the Senate disagrees to any amendments made by the House of Commons, or insists upon any amendments to which the House has disagreed, the House is willing to receive the reasons of the Senate for their disagreeing or insisting (as the case may be) by message, without a conference, unless at any time the Senate should desire to communicate the same at a conference.
Conference.
 
(3)
Any conference between the two Houses may be a free conference.
Reasons for conference.
 
(4)
When the House requests a conference with the Senate, the reasons to be given by this House at the same shall be prepared and agreed to by the House before a message be sent therewith.

Commentary — Standing Order 77

Disagreements between the House and Senate on amendments to a bill may result from a number of prior sequential stages through which the bill has passed in the legislative process. For example, the Senate may disagree with amendments made by the House to a bill originating in the Upper Chamber; or the Senate may insist on amendments it had made to a bill originating in the House — amendments with which the House disagrees.

Whenever disagreements arise between the House and Senate on amendments made to bills, Standing Order 77 provides two methods for dealing with them:  by communicating the disagreements through messages, which is normally the first recourse, or by attempting to resolve them at a conference.

Twenty-four hours’ written notice must be given of a motion to send a message to the Senate respecting amendments to a bill. In practice, this need not be a full 24 hours, as a motion submitted at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, for example, may be taken up at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday. This provision simply means the motion may be proposed once it appears in the Notice Paper and Order Paper (the motion appears simultaneously in both publications). The sponsor of the bill may use such a motion to move that the House concur in, amend or reject the amendments made by the Senate.

Disagreements respecting bills may also be resolved through a conference. Although either House may initiate the request for a conference, section (4) specifies that, before the House sends a message to the Senate requesting a conference, it must already have prepared and agreed upon the reasons for such a conference. A “free” conference simply indicates that the participants (called “managers” for this purpose) [1] are free to speak and negotiate as they see fit under proceedings which are determined by practice and tradition.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 77

For approximately 40 years after Confederation, the rules of the House dealt with only one aspect of resolving differences between the House and Senate on legislation. This method, the conference, was mentioned only in the 1867 Rule 99, which required that when the House requested a conference with the Senate, it had first to agree on the reasons for disagreement before the message requesting the conference could be sent to the other Chamber. [2]

The text of this rule remained unchanged, but the rule was renumbered when two additional sections were adopted in July 1906. The current sections (2) and (3) were based on the text of a resolution adopted by the House in July 1905 [3] and were incorporated into the rules in July 1906. [4] These rule changes provided that, in cases where the House or Senate disagreed with amendments to legislation made by the other Chamber, the reasons for such disagreement or reasons for insisting on the amendments could be communicated by message, unless it was desired to communicate the same at a conference.

The 1906 rule changes also provided that such a conference could be a “free” conference, if desired. In a “free” conference, the representatives or “managers” chosen by the two Chambers would be free to speak and negotiate in order to effect an agreement between the Houses. The procedures for agreeing to and preparing for such conferences and the conduct of the proceedings during the conferences themselves are not regulated by Standing Order, but are governed by practice and tradition.

While many messages pass between the two Houses, conferences between the Senate and House have been rare. None has taken place since 1947 and only 16 are documented since 1903. [5]

Three conferences in total, only one of which was a free conference, were held in October 1903 on the subject of Senate amendments to a Commons bill. The first, at the instigation of the Commons, was held at 8:30 p.m. on October 22; [6] the second, at the instigation of the Senate, was held later that evening at 11:00 p.m. [7] Upon the report of the managers on their return from the second conference, the House sought a third, free conference to be held “forthwith”. [8] The managers from this free conference reported on October 23 [9] and the issue was resolved on October 24. [10]

With the rules regarding conferences (as opposed to “free conferences”) having been changed in 1906, the need for conferences as such was dispensed with. Since 1906, 13 conferences have been held, all at the request of the House, all “free” conferences, and all to resolve disagreements concerning bills. [11]

There were no notice provisions in the Standing Orders respecting the motion for the consideration of Senate amendments until section (1) was added in April 1991. [12] Prior to that, motions respecting Senate amendments were moved by the sponsor once the Order of the Day was read. [13] In most cases, the House is quite disposed to accept the changes and the motion is simply that the amendments “be read a second time and concurred in”. However, in cases of disagreement or in cases where the House seeks to further amend the Senate amendments, the motion can be quite lengthy. [14] Though the proposed message could be circulated informally before debate began, a number of particularly complex motions between 1987 and 1990 led some Members to complain about the lack of formal notice. [15] The 24-hour requirement was instituted shortly thereafter.

Time Allocation

Standing Order 78(1)
Agreement to allot time.
78.
(1)
When a Minister of the Crown, from his or her place in the House, states that there is agreement among the representatives of all parties to allot a specified number of days or hours to the proceedings at one or more stages of any public bill, the Minister may propose a motion, without notice, setting forth the terms of such agreed allocation; and every such motion shall be decided forthwith, without debate or amendment.

Commentary — Standing Order 78(1)

Standing Order 78 provides a mechanism for restricting the length of debate on bills through guillotine motions, generally called “time allocation”. The Standing Order specifies the different kinds of restrictions which apply to the allocation of time depending on the degree of acceptance among the representatives of all parties.

Section (1) of Standing Order 78 envisages a circumstance where there is agreement by representatives of all parties on an allocation of time for the proceedings at any or all stages of a public bill. The motion must be moved by a Minister of the Crown, no notice is required, and the motion would normally be moved under “Motions” during Routine Proceedings. Furthermore, the motion is not amendable or debatable and is decided immediately. The time allocated can be in terms of “days” or “hours”, and debate on the stage of the bill being allocated does not have to have begun. [1]

Standing Order 78(2)
Qualified agreement to allot time.
78.
(2)
(a)
When a Minister of the Crown, from his or her place in the House, states that a majority of the representatives of the several parties have come to an agreement in respect of a proposed allotment of days or hours for the proceedings at any stage of the passing of a public bill, the Minister may propose a motion, without notice, during proceedings under Government Orders, setting forth the terms of the said proposed allocation; provided that for the purposes of this section of this Standing Order an allocation may be proposed in one motion to cover the proceedings at both the report and the third reading stages of a bill if that motion is consistent with the provisions of Standing Order 76.1(10).  The motion shall not be subject to debate or amendment, and the Speaker shall put the question on the said motion forthwith. Any proceeding interrupted pursuant to this section of this Standing Order shall be deemed adjourned.
(b)
If a motion pursuant to this section regarding any bill is moved and carried at the beginning of Government Orders on any day and if the order for the said bill is then called and debated for the remainder of the sitting day, the length of that debate shall be deemed to be one sitting day for the purposes of paragraph (a) of this section.

Commentary — Standing Order 78(2)

Section (2) of Standing Order 78 envisages a circumstance where a majority of the representatives of the parties have agreed on an allocation of time for the proceeding at any one stage of a public bill. As with Standing Order 78(1), the motion must be moved by a Minister of the Crown; no notice is required nor is there a requirement to announce in the House the name of the party or parties who have agreed on the time allocation proposal. The motion is to be moved under Government Orders. The time allocated can be in terms of “days” or “hours” and debate on the stage of the bill being allocated does not have to have begun. [2]

Although the motion can cover only one stage of a bill at a time, the Standing Order provides that one motion can cover both report and third reading stages, provided that the motion takes into account the restrictions specified by Standing Order 76.1(10) (regarding situations where report and third reading stages must be decided at separate sittings). The motion is not debatable nor amendable and is decided immediately. Debate on the item of business interrupted by the moving of the time allocation motion moved under Standing Order 78(2) shall be deemed adjourned.

Standing Order 78(2)(b) provides that, if the motion for time allocation is moved and carried at the beginning of Government Orders on a particular day, and the bill to which it applies is then called and debated for the remainder of that sitting day, the length of that debate (regardless of the total time taken) is deemed to be one sitting day, for the purposes of paragraph (a) of this section.

Standing Order 78(3)
Procedure in other cases to allot time.
78.
(3)
(a)
A Minister of the Crown who from his or her place in the House, at a previous sitting, has stated that an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of sections (1) or (2) of this Standing Order in respect of proceedings at the stage at which a public bill was then under consideration either in the House or in any committee, and has given notice of his or her intention so to do, may propose a motion during proceedings under Government Orders, for the purpose of allotting a specified number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at that stage; provided that the time allotted for any stage is not to be less than one sitting day and provided that for the purposes of this paragraph an allocation may be proposed in one motion to cover the proceedings at both the report and the third reading stages on a bill if that motion is consistent with the provisions of Standing Order 76.1(10).  The motion shall not be subject to debate or amendment, and the Speaker shall put the question on the said motion forthwith. Any proceedings interrupted pursuant to this section of this Standing Order shall be deemed adjourned.
(b)
If a motion pursuant to this section regarding any bill is moved and carried at the beginning of Government Orders on any day and if the order for the said bill is then called and debated for the remainder of the sitting day, the length of that debate shall be deemed to be one sitting day for the purposes of paragraph (a) of this section.

Commentary — Standing Order 78(3)

Section (3) of Standing Order 78 envisages a circumstance where agreement could not be reached under either Standing Order 78(1) or 78(2) on time allocation for the particular stage of a public bill currently being considered. Debate must have begun on that stage. As with sections (1) and (2) of Standing Order 78, the motion can only be moved by a Minister of the Crown. Notice of intention [3] to move such a motion must have been given at a previous sitting and such notice must be given orally and is to be taken up under Government Orders. [4] The motion may allot a specified number of “days” or “hours”, but some restrictions apply to the motion. Specifically, the motion can apply to proceedings at the stage under consideration only; the time to be allocated is not less than one sitting day for any stage; and the motion can cover the third reading stage in addition to report stage. In the latter case, the motion can be moved while considering report stage, provided the motion takes into account the restrictions specified by Standing Order 76.1(10) (regarding situations where report and third reading stages must be decided at separate sittings).

The motion is not debatable nor amendable. However, Standing Order 67.1 provides that, before the question is put on the time allocation motion, Members may address brief questions to the Minister sponsoring the item (or to the Minister acting on his or her behalf). The said Minister may make a corresponding reply. [5] The exchange can occur for a maximum of 30 minutes but, in any event, the period of time taken is then added to the time provided for Government Orders on that day. Private Members’ Business, if applicable, and the time set for daily adjournment proceedings are delayed accordingly.

Debate on any item of business interrupted by the moving of the time allocation motion moved under Standing Order 78(3) shall be deemed adjourned.

Standing Order 78(3)(b) provides that if the motion for time allocation is moved and carried at the beginning of Government Orders on a particular day and the bill to which it applies is then called and debated for the remainder of that sitting day, the length of that debate (regardless of the total time taken) is deemed to be one sitting day, for the purposes of paragraph (a) of this section.

Historical Summary — Standing Order 78

From the early years of the Canadian Parliament, it was recognized that complete freedom of debate was impossible and that some restraint would have to be exercised or some accommodation reached in order for the House to conduct its business within a reasonable timeframe. [6] In April 1913, the House adopted amendments to existing Rule 17 which restricted the number of debatable motions, provided a mechanism to end debate (closure), and provided that on two days of the week certain motions which would ordinarily be debatable (specifically, motions for the House to resolve into Committee of Supply or into Committee of Ways and Means) would not be debatable. [7] In 1927, the House adopted a rule to limit the majority of Members to speeches of 40 minutes each. [8] Further restrictions were imposed in 1955 when limits were placed on the length of the Address and Budget Debates, on debate in Committee of the Whole and on debate on the motion for the House to resolve itself into the Committee of Supply. [9] Permanent changes to the Standing Orders in October 1962 provided further limitations on the Address and Budget Debates and on debate during Private Members’ Business. [10] In 1968, amendments were made to the Standing Order limiting speeches in Committee of the Whole. [11]

During the 1960-68 period, Members recognized that the amount and complexity of House business was increasing and that measures were necessary to ensure that this business would be expedited within a reasonable amount of time. [12] Throughout these years, the House agreed to establish a number of special committees charged with considering the procedures of the House. In each case, the committee was charged, inter alia, with making suggestions to expedite public business. [13]

In the Tenth Report of the Special Committee on Procedure and Organization, tabled in the House on August 19, 1964, reference was made to the difficulty of reaching all-party agreement on a proposal to deal with the fundamental question of the allocation of time. [14] Although the committee indicated it would “continue to explore this basic question”, it did not report further on this matter. Early in the following session, the government took the initiative by moving a resolution which, among other proposals, addressed the issue of time allocation. The special committee proposed a new Standing Order (Standing Order 15-A) establishing a “Business Committee” [15] comprised of a representative of each party of the House. Upon the request of a Minister of the Crown, the Business Committee would consider and, if agreement were reached, would recommend in a report to the House within three sitting days an allocation of time for the specific item of business or stage of the matter referred to it. A motion could then be presented without notice by a Minister of the Crown for concurrence in the report, to be decided without debate or amendment. If, however, the Business Committee were unable to reach unanimous agreement or if it failed to report within the three-day period, a Minister of the Crown could give notice during Routine Proceedings that at the next sitting of the House he or she would move a motion allocating the time for the item of business or the stage. [16]

The proposed resolution was debated in the House for 12 days. [17] Throughout the debate, specific concerns were expressed with respect to the Business Committee proposal. Amendments were adopted to provide, in the instance where unanimous agreement could not be reached, for a minimum of two sitting days at the second reading stage, two sitting days at the committee stage and one sitting day at the third reading stage. The House also agreed that, in the event a timetable were adopted and amendments were then moved which materially changed the character of the legislation, the Speaker would be authorized to extend the time for debate up to a maximum of two days. [18] The specific proposal on the Business Committee was then separated from the main procedural resolution and referred to a special committee for further study. [19]

The special committee recommended in its report a further amendment to the Business Committee proposal, specifically to authorize the Speaker to extend the sitting on the final day of a time allocation order applying to third reading of a bill. [20] In that instance, the Speaker could authorize a further four hours of debate, to be carried out under clear guidelines. [21] Provisional Standing Order 15-A, adopted on June 11, 1965, [22] was invoked on only three occasions from 1965 to 1968. On two of those occasions, informal agreements were reached so the Business Committee did not have to report on the item referred to it. [23] On a third occasion, the Business Committee was unable to reach a unanimous decision and, accordingly, the government proposed its own schedule for the relevant debate. [24] During debate on this time allocation motion, it was clear that the opposition parties were dissatisfied with the provisional Standing Order and the concept of the Business Committee. [25]

When the Twenty-Eighth Parliament assembled in September 1968, the House, while adopting a motion to continue the provisional Standing Orders in general, decided that Standing Order 15-A would not be in effect. [26] A special committee on procedure was established shortly thereafter [27] and in its Fourth Report recommended, among other proposals, a new rule on time allotment and the establishment of a “Proceedings” Committee. [28] This new committee was similar to the former Business Committee, and equally offensive to the opposition Members. [29] Debate on a motion for concurrence in the Fourth Report began on December 10, 1968 and continued for seven sitting days. On December 20, 1968, the House agreed to remove the proposal for the Proceedings Committee from the Fourth Report and to refer the question of time allotment to the new Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization. The Fourth Report was then concurred in. [30]

In its Third Report presented to the House on June 20, 1969, the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization recommended the adoption of the forerunner to the present Standing Order relative to time allocation. [31] Debate on the motion to concur in the Third Report began on July 8, 1969, and continued for 12 sitting days until it was adopted, after closure was applied, on July 24, 1969. [32] The text of the Standing Order has been amended on two occasions since 1969, specifically in June 1987 and in April 1991. The nature of those amendments is described in the text below.

In its original form, the 1969 rule envisaged three options under which a time allotment order could be made. In the first instance (Standing Order 78(1)), the rule was based on representatives of all parties having agreed to allot a specified number of days or hours to the proceedings at one or more stages of a public bill. A Cabinet Minister was to rise, announce the agreement to the House and propose the motion, which would be decided forthwith without debate or amendment. The second section (Standing Order 78(2)) was based on a situation in which a majority of the parties had agreed to an allotment of days or hours to the proceedings at any one stage of a bill. Again, a Cabinet Minister was to rise, announce the agreement to the House and propose a motion, which would then be subject to a debate of no more than two hours duration. Under the terms of the third section (Standing Order 78(3)), no agreement having been reached between the parties, a Minister of the Crown could give notice of his intention to move a motion allotting a number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at the stage then under consideration. This motion, when moved, was also subject to a debate of no more than two hours duration, before the question would be put.

From July 1969 to May 1974, the government of the day invoked Standing Order 78, on only three occasions. [33] The Standing Order was then invoked on more than 15 occasions during the Thirtieth Parliament (1974-79); on one occasion during the Thirty-First Parliament (1979); on more than 20 occasions during each of the Thirty-Second (1980-84) and Thirty-Third Parliaments (1984-88); on at least 30 occasions during each of the Thirty-Fourth (1988-93), Thirty-Fifth (1993-97) and Thirty-Sixth Parliaments (1997-2000); and on 14 occasions in the Thirty-Seventh Parliament (2001-04).

Members of the opposition took exception to the use of this Standing Order and expressed dissatisfaction with its interpretation. [34] On December 1, 1971, points of order were raised regarding the wording and interpretation of Standing Order 78(3). The Speaker ruled that 48-hours’ notice was not required to move a time allocation motion and, further, that it was regular to move such a motion for only one stage of a bill. [35] On December 30, 1971, the Speaker ruled that, in essence, independent Members would not receive the recognition accorded to Members represented by a party spokesperson, according to the wording of Standing Order 78(1). [36]

In November 1975, the President of the Privy Council indicated he intended to bring certain proposals before the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization, including some with implications for time allocation. [37] Although it did not report to the House, the committee created a subcommittee on the use of time which, among other items, reviewed and proposed alternative text to the present Standing Order on time allocation. [38]

The wording of Standing Order 78(3) continued to cause particular concern. The Speaker was called upon in December 1978 to rule whether a motion under Standing Order 78(3) could be moved covering both report and third reading stages, even though third reading had not yet been reached. [39] This same matter was again considered in March 1979. [40] In both cases, the Speaker ruled in the affirmative. The position paper on reform, tabled by the government in November 1979, noted the ambiguity in the wording of this Standing Order and proposed that both sections (2) and (3) of Standing Order 78 be rewritten. [41]

In March 1983, the Speaker confirmed previous rulings and declared that notice of intention to move a time allocation motion could be given under “Motions”, “Notices of Motions” or during debate; [42] in other words, both when a question was, or was not, before the House, in a manner similar to closure (see Standing Order 57). In October 1983, the Speaker ruled that once the question on the motion for time allocation was proposed, the vote would be taken two hours after that proceeding had begun, and any superseding motions proposed during that time period would be disposed of at the end of the two-hour allotment and before voting on the time allocation motion. [43]

In May 1985, a new practice developed whereby time allocation motions were moved and debated following written government notices of motions under Government Orders. This written notice was in addition to the oral notice of intention to move such a motion which had been given to fulfill the requirements of Standing Order 78(3). The new practice was confirmed by the Speaker as an acceptable way of proceeding. [44]

In June 1987, the text of the Standing Order was changed for the first time since its inception in 1969. Amendments to sections (2) and (3) of Standing Order 78 were adopted to provide that time allocation motions, after only oral notice, would be moved under “Government Orders” rather than under “Motions” during Routine Proceedings, as had been the practice. The revisions also provided that debate on the item of business under consideration at the time the motion pursuant to Standing Order 78(2) or (3) was moved would be deemed adjourned. [45]

Members continued to raise specific points of order on the way the Standing Order was interpreted. For example, in June 1988, the Speaker ruled that, under the wording of the Standing Order, the Speaker did not have the authority to inquire into what “consultation” did or did not take place between the parties. [46] In August 1988, the Speaker ruled that an oral notice of a time allocation motion, given under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), need only be a notice of intention and not a notice of the text of the motion itself. In the same ruling, the Speaker further stated that the initiative of announcing any agreements (or lack thereof) to allot time under Standing Order 78 rested with a Minister of the Crown, who had to be a party to any such agreements. [47]

In March 1990, in response to a point of order, the Speaker indicated again that he was not in a position to judge the quality of negotiations between the recognized parties, prior to the moving of a motion of time allocation, [48] nor, in an April 1990 ruling, to refuse to put a time allocation motion if all the procedural exigencies had been met. [49] The question of limiting debate in a standing committee also came under scrutiny at that time with respect to proceedings in and actions undertaken by the Chair of the Standing Committee on Finance, where the committee had reached an impasse on Bill C–62 (Excise Tax Act Amendment). In fact, in its Fourth Report, tabled on April 30, 1990, the Committee recommended that the “question of committees’ rules and procedures as they relate to the limiting of debate.” be referred to the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, a recommendation to which the House agreed. [50]

The precise timing and proper words to be used when giving “oral notice” of time allocation were addressed on three occasions in 1990. In the first instance, a Minister had given notice of time allocation before the particular stage (report stage) had begun. That notice was later withdrawn. [51] In the second instance, a Member raised a point of order, following oral notice of intention by a Minister, that debate on that stage of a bill (report stage) had not yet begun. In this case, the Speaker ruled that the House was indeed seized of the Order of the Day and consequently the oral notice was acceptable. [52] In a third instance, the Minister had risen in the House to give notice of time allocation and had stated “.agreement has not been reached”. The Speaker, acknowledging his decision was based on very narrow grounds, ruled that the Minister should have said that agreement “could not be reached”. [53]

In April 1991, the text of this Standing Order was amended for only the second time since its adoption in 1969. As part of a group of Standing Order amendments, the House agreed to remove the two-hour debate on the time allocation motion moved pursuant to then Standing Order 78(2) and 78(3). The motion was to be decided forthwith. In addition, the text of the Standing Order was amended to provide that if the time allocation motion was moved and adopted at the beginning of Government Orders and the bill under question was then called and debated for the remainder of that sitting, that would count as “one sitting day” for the purpose of the Standing Order. [54]

Although the text of Standing Order 78 has not been amended since April 1991, Members continued to criticize the use of time allocation and the procedures surrounding it, [55] and to raise points of order and questions of privilege on how the Standing Order should be interpreted. On six occasions, Members urged the Speaker to exercise his discretionary authority and refuse to put the motion for time allocation. In all cases, the Chair advised the House that, since the government had followed the course prescribed by the Standing Order, the motion of time allocation could go forward. [56] In November 1996, a Member argued that the consultations were still “ongoing” when the Minister rose to give notice of a time allocation motion and, thus, the notice was invalid. Citing the August 1988 and March 1990 precedents, the Chair ruled “if the Minister takes the view that it has not been possible to reach an agreement, then the notice is acceptable”. [57] In February 2000, the Chair refused to put a motion to adjourn the House, citing that the House was under a time allocation order on a bill. [58] In September 2001, while responding to a point of order on the use of Standing Order 56.1, the Speaker expressed concern, indicating the government was provided with a range of options under Standing Order 57 (closure) and S.O. 78 (time allocation) for the purposes of limiting debate, and that S.O. 56.1 “was not intended to be used for the disposition of a bill at various stages.” [59] As well, the Speaker was called upon in April 2003 to determine whether a particular motion to concur in a Senate amendment dividing a bill was an “intrinsic” part (i.e. stage) of the consideration of a bill and, thus, subject to a time allocation motion, to which the Speaker ruled in the affirmative. [60]

In the period since the Standing Order itself was last amended (April 1991), the time allocation procedure was considered by standing and special committees. In April 1993, for example, the Standing Committee on House Management recommended in its Eighty-First Report that the Speaker be given the authority to determine whether there had been a reasonable opportunity for debate before a motion could be moved to invoke closure or time allocation. [61] This report, however, was not debated nor concurred in. In May 2000, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, as part of its review of the Standing Orders, recommended in its Thirty-First Report a number of changes to Standing Order 78(3), including providing for a period of time, following the moving of the motion, to be made available to Members to ask questions of the Ministers responsible for the conduct of the bill in the House, giving authority to the Chair to determine whether the motion being moved was an abuse of the practices of the House, and giving the Chair the authority to extend the time provided for Government Orders with respect to debate on the particular stage of the bill being guillotined. [62] This Report, as well, was neither debated nor concurred in.

In the First Session of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament, the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons addressed, among many items, the procedural topics of closure and time allocation. In its Report presented in June 2001, the Committee recommended that a 30-minute question-and-answer period should be held following the moving of either a closure motion under Standing Order 57 or a time allocation motion under Standing Order 78(3), during which questions would be directed to the Minister sponsoring the item under debate. The intent was “to promote ministerial accountability and to require the Government to justify its use of these extraordinary measures”. [63] The Report was debated and adopted on October 4, 2001, and this particular recommendation became the present Standing Order 67.1. [64] No further Standing Order amendments have since occurred which would affect the procedure of giving notice and of moving a time allocation motion pursuant to this Standing Order.

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