Private Members’ Bills—Notice, Introduction and First Reading
Once a bill has been drafted, the sponsoring Member must give 48 hours’ written notice of his or her intention to introduce the bill, indicating the committee to which the bill will be referred following second reading. The title of the bill and the name of its sponsor are then published in the Notice Paper. After the 48-hour notice period has expired, the bill may be introduced during Routine Proceedings and given first reading whenever the Member is ready to proceed.
On the day the Member chooses to introduce the bill, he or she rises during Routine Proceedings when the Speaker calls “Introduction of Private Members’ Bills”. The Speaker announces the title of the bill, and the motion for introduction of the bill is automatically adopted, without debate.
The Member is then permitted to give a brief explanation outlining the purpose of the bill. Since no debate is permitted at this time, the Member often simply reads the explanatory note in the bill. The bill is then automatically read a first time and ordered to be printed, also without debate, amendment or question put, pursuant to Standing Order 69(1).
The bill is then transferred to the list of “Private Members’ Business—Items Outside the Order of Precedence”. This list of items may be consulted on the electronic version of the Order Paper but does not actually appear in the printed version. Having been placed on this list, the bill is set down for second reading and reference to a committee. When a Member’s name is placed in the Order of Precedence, he or she may select the bill or any other item standing in his or her name on the List of Items Outside the Order of Precedence.
Pursuant to Standing Order 91.1(1), at the beginning of the first session of a Parliament, and thereafter as required, the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business meets following the establishment or replenishment of the Order of Precedence, to determine whether it wishes to designate any of the items as non-votable according to the criteria adopted by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
A Member who would like to support a bill already appearing on the Notice Paper or Order Paper may notify the Clerk of the House in writing that he or she wishes to second the bill. Up to 20 Members may jointly second an item under Private Members’ Business pursuant to Standing Order 86(2). The names of these Members wishing to support the bill are added to a list of seconders on the Notice Paper or Order Paper pursuant to Standing Order 86(3). Once the order for second reading has been proposed to the House, no additional names can be added to the seconders’ list. The Member who seconds the motions for introduction and first reading of the bill in the House, as well as for subsequent stages, need not be one of the seconders listed on the Order Paper.
The number of seconders for an item of Private Members’ Business has no bearing on whether an item will be deemed non-votable or on the placement of the item on the Order of Precedence.
If a Member submits notice of a bill that is judged to be substantially the same as another item of Private Members’ Business already submitted, the Speaker has the discretionary power to refuse the more recent notice.
If the Speaker refuses the notice, the sponsoring Member is advised and the bill is returned. This practice is intended to prevent a number of similar items from being included on the Order of Precedence.