After a bill has been read a second time,
the House may order it referred to a Committee of the Whole either pursuant to
the Standing Orders,
by unanimous consent
or by special order.
All appropriation or supply bills (bills
authorizing the actual withdrawal of funds from the Consolidated Revenue Fund
for government expenditures) are automatically referred to a Committee of the
Whole for consideration.
These bills are usually considered at the end of the sitting on the last
allotted day in a supply period when little or no debating time remains. The
Standing Orders provide for the Speaker to interrupt the proceedings at that
time and put all questions necessary, without further debate, to dispose of all
stages of any supply bills.
Thus, the committee stage is generally very brief and the bills are reported back
to the House, invariably without amendment, within a matter of minutes. On
occasion, by special order, the House proceeds even more rapidly and deems the
bills adopted at all stages.
Often a Committee of the Whole will examine
non‑controversial bills or bills dealing with matters of political
importance for which arrangements on the use of House time have been made.
Also, the House has examined urgent legislation, such as legislation
terminating strikes, by unanimous consent or by special order in a Committee of
Many of these bills are considered by unanimous consent of the House at two or
more stages in one sitting.
When the House resolves into a Committee of
the Whole for the consideration of bills, the Prime Minister and Leader of the
Opposition have unlimited speaking time.
Members have 20 minutes at a time to make speeches, to ask questions and
to receive replies every time they rise to speak. The Chair must
apply the 20-minute limit to ensure the Minister or sponsor has an opportunity
to answer a final question within the 20 minutes.
A bill is considered within a Committee of
the Whole in much the same way it would be if it were referred to a standing, special
or legislative committee.
Consideration of the preamble and title (as well as Clause 1 if it only
contains the short title of the bill) are postponed. Each clause is a
distinct question and is disposed of separately in numerical order. Traditionally,
when Clause 1 (or Clause 2 if Clause 1 contains only the short title of the
is called, the Committee holds a general debate, similar to that at second
reading, covering the principles and details of the bill. After Clause 1 (or
Clause 2) is disposed of, debate must be strictly relevant to the clause
This tends to make debate on subsequent clauses shorter. Amendments and
subamendments to a clause may be moved. If they are found procedurally
acceptable by the Chair, they are debated and disposed of before the next
clause is called.
After a clause has been considered, the Chair asks if it shall carry.
Once a clause has been disposed of, it may not be discussed again during
consideration of another clause. New clauses, schedules, new schedules, Clause
1 (if it contains only the short title of the bill), the preamble and the title
are the last items considered.
Similar to proceedings in standing, special, or legislative committees,
consideration of particular clauses may be postponed or stood by decision of
When consideration of a bill in a Committee
of the Whole is completed, the Chair requests leave to report the bill. Often
leave is granted automatically, but it is not unusual for a division to take
place on the motion.
Once leave is granted, the Mace is placed back on the Table, the Speaker takes
the Chair and the Chair of the Committee reports the bill, with or without
amendment, to the House.
The report is then received by the House and the Speaker immediately puts the
question on the motion for the bill to be concurred in at report stage.
No amendments or debate are allowed at this stage.
Should the bill be concurred in at report
stage, the third reading motion may be proposed in the same sitting.
However, if the bill has been read a second time that same sitting, the third
reading motion may only be moved with the unanimous consent of the House
because the Standing Orders dictate that the three readings of a bill should
occur on different days.
With the consent of the House, the third reading motion may be proposed
immediately, which is the usual practice,
or later during the same sitting. Third reading may also take place at the next
sitting of the House.
During consideration of the motion for
third reading, an amendment may not be proposed to recommit to a Committee of
the Whole a bill that has been previously considered by a standing committee.
Such an amendment to recommit the bill usually limits consideration in the
Committee to certain clauses, or new proposed amendments. In some cases, no
limitation is included.
If agreed to, this motion becomes an instruction to the Committee.
The Standing Orders provide a mechanism,
referred to as time allocation, for restricting the length of debate on bills.
It allows the government party to negotiate with the opposition parties to
establish, in advance, a timetable for the consideration of a public bill at
one or more legislative stages, including debate in Committee of the Whole. In
the absence of an agreement among the representatives of all parties or among a
majority of the representatives of the parties, the government may also use
time allocation to determine, with the agreement of the House, the period of
time remaining for committee deliberations. The amount of time allocated may
not, however, be less than one sitting day. In this particular case, the
government must give prior notice orally at a previous sitting. Before the vote
on the motion of time allocation, a 30‑minute questions and answers
period must also be held for the government to justify its use of this measure.
Time allocation has rarely been imposed in
a Committee of the Whole.
Bills that are referred to it may deal with matters of political importance on
which arrangements have been made on the use of House time; it is therefore not
necessary to allocate time. In addition, the House often prefers to make special
orders that enable it to move quickly to set specific time limits for the
consideration of legislation in a Committee of the Whole. These special orders
are generally negotiated between the parties before being agreed to by
Motions of instruction are derived from
British practice which was developed in the second half of the nineteenth
century and incorporated into Canadian practice, although they have seldom been
used. Instructions to a Committee of the Whole dealing with legislation are not
mandatory but permissive, that is, the Committee has the discretion to decide
whether it will exercise the power given to it by the House to do something
which it otherwise would have no authority to do. However, if the
Committee itself wishes to extend its powers, it must request that the House
give it an instruction to this effect.
Today, given that the House usually refers a bill to a Committee of the Whole
to expedite its passage, the House typically defines the guidelines under which
the Committee will work by special order.
In the event the House wishes to instruct a
Committee of the Whole to do something, a motion of instruction may be moved
without notice immediately after a bill has been read a second time and
referred to a Committee of the Whole but before the House has resolved itself
into the Committee.
An instruction to a Committee of the Whole has also been moved as a substantive
motion under the rubric “Motions” during Routine Proceedings when a bill was
already before the Committee.
A motion of instruction is debatable and amendable.
Members have moved motions instructing a
Committee of the Whole to divide a bill into several bills, to consolidate
several bills into one bill,
and to insert new clauses into a bill.
A motion of instruction is inadmissible if it seeks to confer upon the
Committee powers it already has, such as the authority to amend a bill.
Any number of motions of instruction may be moved successively to a bill
referred to a Committee of the Whole; however, each motion is a separate and
Once a motion of instruction is agreed to, it becomes an Order of Reference to
 Standing Order 73(4). See also Chapter 16, “The Legislative
 See, for example, Journals, June 20, 1994, pp. 617‑8;
April 17, 1997, pp. 1485‑6. On a number of occasions, two or
more public bills or resolutions have been referred to and considered jointly
in a Committee of the Whole in the same sitting by unanimous consent (Journals,
June 29, 1934, p. 565; March 23, 1942, pp. 182‑3;
May 26, 1954, p. 658; March 9, 1978, p. 468).
 For example, in 1988, the House adopted a motion to suspend, for
the duration of the First Session of the Thirty‑Fourth Parliament,
certain Standing Orders, including the provisions respecting the committee
stage of bills. This order also stipulated that Bill C‑2, the Canada‑U.S.
Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act, was to be referred to a Committee
of the Whole after second reading (Journals, December 16, 1988, pp. 46‑9).
In 2001, the House adopted a Special Order relating to
Bill C-28, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada
Act, the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act and the Salaries Act, to schedule three separate sitting days for its second reading, consideration
in Committee of the Whole and at report stage, and finally, for its third
reading (Journals, June 4, 2001, p. 475).
 Standing Order 73(4). The adoption of any motion to concur in the estimates
or interim supply is an Order for the House to bring in a bill or bills based
thereon. See Standing Order 81(21), as well as Chapter 18, “Financial
 Standing Order 81(17) and (18). See, for example, Debates, June 14,
2005, p. 7160.
 See, for example, Journals, December 9, 2004, p. 333.
 See, for example, Bill C-29, An Act respecting compensation in
the Public Sector of Canada and to amend another Act in relation thereto (Journals,
September 17, 1991, pp. 354‑5; September 30, 1991,
pp. 414, 417‑9), and Bill C‑74, An Act respecting the supervision
of longshoring and related operations at west coast ports (Journals,
March 15, 1995, pp. 1219‑22).
 See, for example, the Special Order adopted in October 2000 in connection with Bill C-45, An Act respecting the provision of increased funding for health
care services, medical equipment, health information and communications
technologies, early childhood development and other social services and to
amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, in which the House
provided a period of 15 minutes for its consideration in a Committee of
the Whole. At the end of the 15 minutes, any remaining stages of
consideration of the Bill, with any amendments adopted in Committee of the
Whole, were deemed disposed of, up to and including third reading and passage (Journals,
October 19, 2000, pp. 2080-1).
 Standing Order 101(3).
 Standing Order 101(3). See, for example, Debates, May 26,
1982, p. 17802; March 8, 1983, p. 23550; September 30, 1991,
p. 2946; March 21, 1996, p. 1068. The Chair of a Committee of the
Whole may suggest that Members speak for shorter periods to give as many
Members as possible an opportunity to participate in the debate. See, for
example, Debates, June 6, 2001, p. 4716. If the bill has been
closured, different rules of debate apply; see the section in this chapter
 For further information on bills referred to standing, special or
legislative committees for study, see Chapter 16, “The Legislative
Process”, and Chapter 20, “Committees”.
 This practice extends back to Confederation when consideration of
the preamble was postponed while each clause was considered in its proper
order; the preamble and title were considered last. See Rules, Orders and
Forms of Proceeding of the House of Commons of Canada, 1868, Rule
 The Thirteenth Report of the Special Committee on Procedure and
Organization recommended that consideration of Clause 1 should be postponed
when it only contained a short title (Journals, October 7, 1964,
pp. 771‑3). The recommendation was adopted on a provisional basis on
October 9, 1964 (Journals, pp. 777‑80) and the
provisional changes were extended for the Twenty‑Seventh Parliament (1966‑68)
(Journals, January 21, 1966, p. 34; April 26, 1967,
pp. 1769‑74). Permanent changes to the Standing Orders were adopted
in December 1968 (Journals, December 20, 1968, pp. 554‑62,
in particular p. 560).
 See, for example, Debates, September 30, 1991,
pp. 2968‑9; June 6, 2001, p. 4727.
 See, for example, Debates, November 24, 1997, pp. 2105‑13;
October 19, 2000, p. 9287. On one occasion, there was agreement in a
Committee of the Whole for amendments to any of the clauses in the bill under
consideration to be moved when considering Clause 2. A general debate was
held on all the amendments, but the question was not put on individual
amendments until the clauses to which they applied were called (Debates,
March 15, 1995, pp. 10559, 10561). In addition, there are times when
the House may adopt a special order stipulating that any division requested
during the proceedings be deferred to a specific time. See, for example, Journals,
June 4, 2001, p. 475; Debates, June 6, 2001,
 Unanimous consent has been granted for the Chair to call a number
of clauses as one group in order to expedite proceedings in a Committee of the
Whole. See, for example, Debates, April 20, 1994,
pp. 3291, 3294; May 25, 1994, p. 4416.
 See, for example, Debates, October 6, 1998,
pp. 8854‑5; June 6, 2001, p. 4738.
 See, for example, Debates, November 24, 1997,
pp. 2107, 2112.
 See, for example, Debates, September 30, 1991,
 In practice, if the Presiding Officer who has chaired the Committee
of the Whole takes the Chair of the House as Speaker, he or she may simply
invoke pro forma the name of another Member as presenting the report
from the Committee of the Whole.
 Standing Order 76.1(12). See, for example, Debates,
December 2, 1997, p. 2618; June 14, 2005,
 See, for example, Journals, April 20, 1994,
pp. 375‑6; June 20, 1994, pp. 617‑8;
March 12, 1997, p. 1262. This practice differs significantly for
public bills reported back from standing, special or legislative committees.
The Standing Orders require that every bill examined and reported by a
committee be considered by the House at report stage. In the case of public
bills reported back after second reading from a standing, special or
legislative committee, report stage cannot begin sooner than the second sitting
day after the bill has been reported, or the third sitting day in the case of a
bill sent to committee before second reading. See Standing Orders 76(1) and 76.1(1).
At Confederation, amendments made in a Committee of the Whole were reported by
the Chairman to the House which received the report forthwith. See Rules,
Orders and Forms of Proceeding of the House of Commons of Canada, 1868, Rule No. 47. The rules then provided for debate and amendments to be moved to
the bill before it was ordered for third reading. If the bill had not been
amended in the Committee, it would be ordered for third reading at a time
decided by the House. It was not until 1955 that the Standing Orders were
amended to require a report from the Chairman of a Committee of the Whole to be
received and the motion for concurrence in amendments to be disposed of
forthwith (Journals, July 12, 1955, pp. 932‑3).
 Standing Order 76.1(11).
 See Standing Order 71. See, for example, Journals,
February 24, 1969, pp. 738‑9.
 See, for example, Debates, April 20, 1994,
p. 3291; June 18, 1996, p. 4039; Journals, December 11,
2007, pp. 295-6, Debates, p. 2078.
 See, for example, Debates, December 21, 1988,
p. 589; September 30, 1991, p. 2998; May 4, 2001,
 See Debates, March 9, 1999, pp. 12645‑6. For
an example of a bill which was examined by a standing committee and recommitted
to a Committee of the Whole by unanimous consent, see Journals,
February 11, 1977, p. 464; July 25, 1977, p. 1441. For
further information, see Chapter 16, “The Legislative Process”.
 See, for example, Journals, April 3, 1882, pp. 248‑9;
March 27, 1933, pp. 343‑4; April 25, 1952,
pp. 231‑2; June 27, 1952, pp. 604‑5; March 1,
1962, pp. 182‑3; July 25, 1977, p. 1441.
 See, for example, Journals, February 17, 1928,
p. 83; April 10, 1957, p. 445.
 An instruction is a direction by the House to a committee, which
has already received an order of reference, further defining its course of
action or empowering it to do something. For further information, see
Chapter 16, “The Legislative Process”, and Chapter 20, “Committees”.
 Standing Order 78. For further information on time allocation, see
Chapter 14, “The Curtailment of Debate”. With regard to bills, closure is
another mechanism that may be imposed for curtailing debate. For further
information on this subject, see the section in this chapter entitled
“Closure”, and Chapter 14, “The Curtailment of Debate”.
 Standing Order 67.1.
 Between 1971 and 1997, time allocation was applied to the Committee
of the Whole stage on eight occasions. In six of the cases, debate had already
begun in a Committee of the Whole when a Minister advised the House that an
agreement could not be reached with respect to a timetable and gave notice that
a time allocation motion would be proposed at the next sitting of the House (Debates,
December 1, 1971, pp. 10046‑7; January 28, 1977,
pp. 2495‑6; December 2, 1977, p. 1498; June 12,
1978, p. 6298; December 5, 1979, p. 2040; March 14, 1983,
p. 23750). The following sitting day, the Minister moved the time
allocation motion during Routine Proceedings (Debates, December 2,
1971, pp. 10076‑7; January 31, 1977, p. 2534;
December 5, 1977, p. 1545; June 13, 1978, p. 6355;
December 7, 1979, p. 2148; March 15, 1983,
p. 23798). In the other two instances, a time allocation motion was moved
to provide for the completion of debate at all stages of a bill, including the
Committee of the Whole stage, in the same sitting (Journals,
June 27, 1980, pp. 310, 312; March 15, 1995, pp. 1219‑23).
 See, for example, the Special Order adopted in June 2001 regarding
Bill C-28, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act, the Members of
Parliament Retiring Allowances Act and the Salaries Act, where the House
set aside one sitting day for its consideration in Committee of the Whole (Journals,
June 4, 2001, p. 475). See also, for example, Debates,
September 30, 1991, pp. 2902‑4; June 10, 1998,
 Bourinot, 4th ed., pp. 395, 517. The purpose of a
mandatory instruction is to define the course of action a committee must take. For
further information, see Chapter 16, “The Legislative Process”.
 Bourinot, 4th ed., p. 398.
 See, for example, Journals, March 30, 1984,
p. 324; December 2, 1997, pp. 313‑4; June 4, 2001, p.
 See, for example, Journals, March 19, 1948,
pp. 268‑9; July 30, 1956, pp. 942‑3.
 Journals, April 15, 1920, p. 146.
 Debate on the motion of instruction must be relevant to the purpose
of the instruction and not the content of the bill. Amendments must be worded
in such a way that if an amendment were agreed to, the question would retain
the form and effect of an instruction (May, 22nd ed., pp. 518‑9).
 Journals, March 19, 1948, p. 269 (motion
negatived); July 30, 1956, pp. 942‑3 (motion negatived).
 Journals, April 15, 1920, p. 146 (motion adopted).
 Journals, March 15, 1948, p. 255 (motion
 Bourinot, 4th ed., p. 513. See, for example, Journals,
May 2, 1872, p. 79; May 23, 1956, pp. 598‑603.
 Beauchesne, 6th ed., p. 204.