Reasoned Amendments to Bills
A reasoned amendment is one that allows a Member to state the reasons why he or she opposes second or third reading of a bill. While the Standing Orders of the House of Commons contain no provisions respecting reasoned amendments, practice has developed over the years regarding both the form and substance of such amendments.
A reasoned amendment generally takes the form of a proposal that the House decline to give a bill second or third reading based on two broad categories of reasons:
- a reasoned amendment may be declaratory of a principle adverse to or differing from the principles, policy or provisions of the bill; or
- it may express an opinion as to any circumstances connected with the introduction or consideration of the bill, or with any other initiative opposed to its progress.
To be in order, a reasoned amendment must be relevant and relate strictly to the bill being considered. A reasoned amendment is not relevant, for example, if it:
- relates to another bill;
- is intended to divide the bill;
- proposes that the bill be withdrawn and replaced by another bill;
- relates to the parent Act rather than to the amending bill;
- goes beyond the scope of the bill;
- involves the expenditure of funds; or
- proposes changes that go beyond the scope of the royal recommendation.
In addition, a reasoned amendment must not be a direct negation of the principle of the bill and, if what is sought may be accomplished by amendments in committee, it must not relate to particulars of the bill. It must not attach a condition to the adoption of the second reading motion.
There have been no instances in which the House has decided in favour of a reasoned amendment. If it were to do so, debate on the bill would end and the bill would be dropped from the Order Paper.