Private bills are subject to the same
procedural requirements as public bills: they must be given three separate
readings and a detailed study by a committee.
Bills originating in the Senate retain their Senate bill number during passage
through the House.
Private bills originating in the House are numbered consecutively beginning
with C‑1001. Private bills are considered during the time provided for
Private Members’ Business. However, as explained earlier in this chapter, while
a private bill must be sponsored by a private Member in the House, it is not
considered a private Member’s bill because it is introduced at the request of a
private person outside Parliament. Members sponsoring such bills
can therefore still take advantage of all of the opportunities available to
them under Private Members’ Business.
As soon as a petition for a private bill is
received, the Clerk of Petitions asks the Member who will be acting as the
sponsor to endorse the petition by signing the back of it. It is then filed
with the Clerk of the House and recorded in that day’s Journals.
The petition must bear the original signatures of the persons who are
requesting the legislation and who are to benefit from it. In the case of a
petition from a corporation, the petition must bear the corporate seal as well
as the signatures of the authorized officials of the corporation. The
signatures must appear at the end of the prayer,
and where there are three or more petitioners, at least three of the signatures
must follow the prayer on the same page.
Although the Standing Orders do not require
a petition for a private bill originating in the Senate to be considered by the
House, the long‑established practice is for the promoter of the bill to
petition each House separately.
With a private bill originating in the Senate, the usual practice is for the
Member acting as the sponsor to file the petition with the Clerk of the House
after the bill has received second reading in the Senate.
The day after the petition is recorded in
the Journals, the Clerk of Petitions files a report with the Clerk of
the House indicating whether the petition meets the requirements of the
Standing Orders and the practices of the House as to form and content. This
report is recorded in the Journals for that day. If the petition does
meet the requirements, it is deemed read and received and will be deemed
referred to a legislative committee which will be studying the private bill,
and all petitions for or against the bill, after second reading.
If the petition is deemed inadmissible, it cannot be received by the House as
it stands, and the private bill based thereon cannot be submitted to the House.
No debate is allowed on the report of the Clerk of Petitions.
Once the petition for a private bill has
been received by the House, an official of the House acting as the Examiner of
Petitions for Private Bills examines the petition and the published notices to
ensure that the requirements have been met regarding notice and the number of
times it has been advertised in the Canada Gazette. The Examiner of
Petitions for Private Bills then files a report with the Clerk of the House on
whether the requirements regarding notice have been observed by the applicant.
This report is recorded in the Journals for that day. Should the
Examiner report that notice has been deficient or defective in some way or that
there is some doubt in the matter, the Examiner’s report and the petition are
deemed referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
If a private bill originating in the Senate is sent to the Commons without
being based on a petition received in the House, the Examiner of Petitions
compares the terms of the preamble of the bill with the required notices and
proceeds exactly as if a petition had been received.
If a report of the Examiner of Petitions
has been referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, the
Committee may call before it the Member of Parliament who presented the
petition for a private bill as well as the applicant or the parliamentary
agent. After hearing their explanations, the Committee decides whether or not
the petition should be acted on and under what conditions. The Committee
presents a report to the House regarding any deficiencies or defects found in
the notices and recommends the course it deems appropriate in the
For example, the Committee may recommend that certain provisions of the
Standing Orders be suspended, the grounds for which are included in the report.
Should the Committee not recommend that the Standing Orders be suspended, the
House cannot consider the bill based on the petition. After the
Committee’s report has been presented to the House, the Chair of the Committee
or the Member who presented the petition will usually move concurrence in the
After either the Examiner of Petitions for
Private Bills or the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has
reported that the notice requirements have been satisfied (i.e., the applicants
published a notice of intent in the Canada Gazette and elsewhere, as
required by the Standing Orders, and provided proof of this publication), or the
House has agreed to suspend those requirements, any private bill originating in
the Commons may be laid upon the Table by the Clerk of the House.
It is then deemed to have been read a first time, ordered to be printed,
ordered for a second reading and added to the bottom of the order of precedence
for Private Members’ Business.
It is considered a votable item for the purposes of Private Members’ Business.
A private bill originating in the Senate is
deemed to have been read a first time and ordered for a second reading at a
subsequent sitting of the House, as soon as a message is received from the
Senate advising that it has passed the bill.
It is also placed at the bottom of the order of precedence for Private Members’
Business and considered a votable item.
Unlike a public bill, which is founded on
reasons of public policy and which the House, in agreeing to its second
reading, accepts and affirms the principle, the expediency of a private bill is
mainly founded upon assertions to be proven in committee. The practice is for
the House to agree to the second reading of a private bill; in doing so, it
affirms the principle of the private bill, subject to a committee finding that
the assertions set down in the preamble are true. The amendments
which can be moved at second reading are the same as those which can be moved
to the motion for second reading of a public bill (a hoist amendment, a
reasoned amendment, and a motion to discharge the order for second reading).
Although the Standing Orders require that
all private bills be referred to a legislative committee after second reading,
the House of Commons regularly gives unanimous consent to take the committee
stage in Committee of the Whole since most private bills originate in the
However, where the House has received a petition against the bill or Members
feel the bill warrants further examination, it is usually referred to a
The first business of the committee is to
prove the preamble of the bill, that is, to substantiate the assertions
contained in the bill’s preamble and on which the rest of the bill is based.
The promoters, or their parliamentary agent, present their case for the
accuracy of the assertions and the appropriateness of the solution provided by
the provisions of the bill. Any opponents, or their parliamentary agent, may
present grounds for opposition to the bill or to some part of it. If any part
of the preamble is not proven to the committee’s satisfaction, then it may
strike from the bill both that part of the preamble and those provisions which
pertain to the unproven assertions. The committee may instead prefer to report
that the preamble was found not proven and that the bill should not be
proceeded with. Any report must include the reason for any material change to
the preamble of the bill or why the preamble was found not proven.
Finally, the committee may amend the preamble by expunging any assertions the
promoters may wish to withdraw.
After the preamble has been considered and
proven to the satisfaction of the committee, it reviews the bill clause by
clause and amendments may be moved. The amendments made to a private bill by a
committee ought not to be so extensive as to constitute a different bill from
that which has been read a second time.
All questions before the committee are decided by a majority of votes. The
Chair of the legislative committee may vote twice: once with the other
members of the committee on any question, and then a second time if the first
vote results in a tie.
The Chair initials the clauses of the bill when they are passed, with or
without amendments, and signs the bill.
Once the deliberations on the bill have been completed, the committee is required
to report the bill to the House, with or without amendments.
If a committee reports to the House that
the preamble was not proven, the bill is not placed on the Order Paper
except by special order of the House.
If the committee reports to the House that the bill contains provisions which
were not contemplated in the notice or petition, the bill is not placed on the Order
Paper until the Examiner of Petitions reports on the sufficiency or
otherwise of the notice or petition to cover such provisions.
Since the bill belongs to the promoter and
not to the Member in charge of ushering the bill through the House, the
promoter may inform the committee at any time that he or she does not wish to
proceed any further with the bill.
This is reported to the House with the bill and the bill is withdrawn.
These two stages are governed by the
Standing Orders relating to Private Members’ Business (see Chapter 21,
“Private Members’ Business”). If a private bill is considered at the report stage, one day’s
notice of all amendments to the bill must be given at this stage of the
During the third reading stage, the same amendments that may be proposed during
third reading of a public bill may also be moved (a hoist amendment, a reasoned
amendment, and an amendment to recommit the bill to committee).
If a private bill that has originated in
the House is passed in the same form by the Senate, the bill receives Royal
Assent and becomes law. If it is amended by the Senate, a message is sent
informing the House of the amendments. Between 1945 and 1978 (the last time a
private bill originated in the House), no amendments were made by the Senate to
private bills originating in the House. In the early years of Confederation,
the Senate often amended private bills that had originated in the House. The
House would typically read the amendments a second time and pass them.
On occasion, if amendments were substantive as opposed to “merely verbal or
unimportant”, the House would refer the amendments to the committee that
originally studied the bill.
If these amendments were agreed to by the committee in a report to the House,
they were considered by the House.
If the amendments were read a second time and passed by the House, a message
was sent informing the Senate accordingly and the bill then received Royal
Assent. If the committee disagreed with the amendments, it reported accordingly
to the House. If it concurred in the committee’s report, the House then sent a
message to this effect to the Senate.
If a private bill that has originated in
the Senate is passed by the House in the same form, the bill receives Royal
Assent and becomes law. If the House of Commons has passed the bill with
amendments, a message is sent to the Senate requesting concurrence in the
amendments. Subsequently, a message is received from the Senate agreeing or
disagreeing with the amendments. If the amendments are concurred in by the
Senate, a message is sent informing the House of its concurrence and the bill
may then receive Royal Assent.
If the Senate does not agree with the amendments, it informs the House
 Standing Order 147. In current practice (because private bills
usually originate in the Senate), after the petition and the bill have been
received by the House, the House typically proceeds through all stages in the
same sitting by unanimous consent. This is normally done on the day when the
bill comes up for second reading during Private Members’ Business Hour. See,
for example, Journals, March 13, 1997, p. 1281;
December 9, 1998, p. 1430; June 7, 2001, pp. 513‑4;
May 19, 2005, p. 779. On one occasion, a petition for a private
bill originating in the Senate was filed by a Member, deemed filed within the
required time limit and reported on by the Examiner of Petitions; and the bill
was read a second time, referred to a Committee of the Whole, reported without
amendment, concurred in at the report stage, read a third time and passed, all
on the same day (Journals, June 15, 1993, pp. 3309, 3314).
 Since June 30, 2005, private bills originating in the Senate are numbered consecutively beginning with S‑1001. For further information, see Chapter 16, “The Legislative
Process”, and Chapter 24, “The Parliamentary Record”.
 For further information, see
Chapter 21, “Private Members’ Business”.
 Standing Order 131(3). Unlike a public petition, a private bill
petition is not certified by the Clerk of Petitions before being presented.
 See, for example, Journals, December 1, 1992,
p. 2267; May 5, 1999, p. 1831; November 5, 2003, pp. 1243-4.
 Unlike public petitions, petitioners for a private bill are not
required to obtain 25 signatures. See Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates,
December 1, 1986, p. 1647. See also Chapter 22, “Public
 The prayer is that part of a petition in which the petitioners
present their request for some action. The prayer must be clear, proper and
respectful, and the action requested must fall within federal jurisdiction.
 Standing Order 131(4).
 Between 1920 and 1928, a number of examples can be found in the Journals
where a private bill originating in the Senate passed through the House of
Commons without a petition being presented in the House of Commons. While it
has been the practice since 1928 for a petition to be presented in both Houses,
Bill S-14, An Act to amend the Act of incorporation of the Board of Elders
of the Canadian District of the Moravian Church in America, passed through
the House of Commons in the Second Session of the Thirty-Sixth Parliament
without a petition being presented in the House of Commons.
 Standing Order 131(5).
 Standing Order 141(1).
 Prior to June 1994, petitions had to be filed within the first
six weeks of the session. If they were not filed within this period, the Clerk
of Petitions would report that the petition did not meet the requirements in
respect to the filing of petitions. See, for example, Journals,
November 27, 1991, p. 809; April 1, 1992, p. 1250. A
motion would then be adopted to refer the petition and the report to the
Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. Without exception, the
Standing Committee would recommend the suspension of the Standing Order. If the
Committee’s report was concurred in by the House, the petition would be
received (Standing Order 140). See, for example, Journals, February 14,
1990, p. 1219; March 19, 1990, pp. 1363‑4. On occasion,
and throughout most of the Third Session of the Thirty‑Fourth Parliament
(1991‑93), unanimous consent would be given to deem that a petition for a
private bill had been presented within the required time frame. See Journals,
December 4, 1991, p. 846. Since Standing Order 132 concerning the
time requirement for the filing of petitions was removed from the Standing
Orders in June 1994 (Journals, June 10, 1994, p. 563), no
petition has been deemed inadmissible. The Committee occasionally recommended
that charges be levied for the suspension or modification of the Standing
Orders (Standing Order 134(3)(a)). See, for example, Journals,
July 7, 1981, pp. 2790‑1.
 Standing Order 131(6).
 The position of Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills first
appeared in the text of the written Standing Orders in 1906. In July of that year, the Special Committee to Revise the Rules of the House recommended
that such a position be established, the purpose of which would be to consider
whether petitions for private bills met the notice requirements and so report
to the House. This employee relieved the Committee on Standing Orders of its
preliminary responsibility to report to the House on notice requirements (Journals,
July 10, 1906, pp. 579‑80). In March 1927, a number of
amendments were made to the Standing Orders concerning private bills, one of
which declared that the Chief Clerk of Private Bills would be the Examiner of
Petitions for Private Bills (Journals, March 22, 1927, pp. 352‑3).
 Standing Order 133(2). See, for example, Journals,
June 11, 1992, p. 1696; March 18, 1997, p. 1310. It
has happened that reports have been filed by the Clerk of Petitions and the
Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills on the same day. See, for example, Journals,
June 21, 1994, pp. 651‑2; April 27, 1999,
p. 1775; December 13, 2006, p. 917. In the case of a
railway company, or of a canal company, or for extension of the line of any
existing or authorized railway or canal, or for the construction of branches
thereto, the Examiner of Petitions cannot consider the petition unless a map or
plan is also filed (Standing Order 133(4)). If the map or plan is not filed,
the Examiner of Petitions will not report, and the matter will not be further
 Standing Order 133(2). For an example of a
report by the Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills indicating insufficiency
of notice, see Journals, February 7, 2000, p. 849. For an example of the
Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs studying “insufficiency of
notice”, see Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, Evidence,
February 24, 2000, Meeting No. 28; February 29, 2000, Meeting
No. 29. See also the Eighteenth Report of the Committee, presented to the
House on March 1, 2000 (Journals, p. 1052), and concurred in on
March 15, 2000 (Journals, p. 1397). This was the first
case of a report of the Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills being referred
to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs for this reason since
 Standing Order 133(3). See also Todd, 3rd ed.,
p. 118. The Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills examines and reports
on the bill after first reading and before the committee stage.
 Standing Orders 133(2) and 140. If the Committee finds, for
example, that the persons affected by the proposed bill had sufficient
knowledge of the applicant’s intentions or that the applicant alone would be
affected, then the Committee may even recommend that the notice
requirement be suspended completely. If, when the Committee compares the notice
and the petition, it finds that the terms of the notice do not correspond to
those of the petition or that the notice fails to indicate clearly the object
of the petition, the Committee must conclude that the bill is inadmissible, in
whole or in part, and may recommend that the matter not be proceeded with
or that certain provisions not included in the notice be struck from the bill.
See Bourinot, 4th ed., pp. 593‑4; Beauchesne, 4th ed.,
 If the Committee does not recommend that a particular provision of
the Standing Orders be suspended, Standing Order 140 does not provide for a
motion for suspension of that provision to be made in the House.
 Should the Committee receive new information after its report has
been presented, it may present a new report on the matter. For example,
new evidence may be received showing that the other interested persons
were sufficiently informed or that amended notices or additional notices have
since appeared. See Bourinot, 4th ed., p. 595; Beauchesne,
4th ed., p. 349.
 Standing Order 135(1). An entry of the tabling is recorded in the Journals
for that day. See, for example, Journals, July 9, 1975,
p. 691; November 5, 1975, p. 824; November 1, 1976,
p. 89; October 21, 1977, p. 24. This procedure differs from that
for public bills, which are introduced during Routine Proceedings either under
the rubric “Introduction of Government Bills” or under the rubric “Introduction
of Private Members’ Bills”. For further information, see Chapter 10, “The
Daily Program”, and Chapter 16, “The Legislative Process”.
 Standing Orders 89 and 135(1). These bills are placed at the bottom
of the order of precedence but the Member does not lose his or her place on the
List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business. However, no Member may
sponsor more than one such bill during a Parliament. See Standing Order
 Standing Order 135(2). See Journals, June 8, 1994,
p. 547; May 10, 2005, p. 735.
 Bourinot, 4th ed., p. 599. The House
may not debate any evidence taken by a Senate committee during the second
reading stage. See Journals, December 4, 1962, pp. 354‑5.
 For further information on these kinds of amendments, see
Chapter 16, “The Legislative Process”. If second reading is delayed three
or six months (adoption of the hoist amendment), or if the bill is rejected, no
new bill with the same intent may be introduced during the same session (Beauchesne,
4th ed., p. 353). An amendment interjecting a matter of
public policy into a private bill has been ruled out of order (Debates,
March 21, 1927, p. 1419). Similarly, an amendment expanding the
scope of a private bill was also ruled out of order. In 1948, a Member moved that a private bill, An Act respecting The Bell Telephone Company of Canada,
not be read a second time but “that it be resolved that in the opinion of this
House no company should ask Parliament for an increase in authorized capital in
excess of one hundred per cent”. The Deputy Speaker ruled the amendment out of
order as it “would affect all bills which will hereafter be introduced into the
house” (Debates, April 30, 1948, pp. 3502‑3).
 Standing Order 141(1). In the first six years of Confederation, the
House referred all private bills to the Standing Committee on Private Bills,
the Standing Committee on Banking and Commerce, or the Standing Committee on
Railways, Canals and Telegraph Lines (Todd, 3rd ed.,
p. 64). This rule was changed in 1873, when the House agreed that private
bills should be sent to standing committees after second reading to allow time
for the bills to be printed (Dawson, p. 247). From 1876 to 1965,
all private bills were referred to the Standing Committee on Private Bills, the
Standing Committee on Banking and Commerce, the Standing Committee on Railways,
Canals and Telegraph Lines, or the Standing Committee on Miscellaneous Private
Bills. From 1965 to 1986, private bills were referred after second reading to
the Standing Committee on Finance, Trade and Economic Affairs, the Standing Committee
on Transportation and Communications, or the Standing Committee on
Miscellaneous Private Bills. In 1986, the Standing Order was amended to refer
all private bills to legislative committees after second reading (Journals,
February 13, 1986, pp. 1709‑10). However, since the
beginning of the Thirty‑Fifth Parliament (1994‑97), all private
bills from the Senate have been considered, or deemed considered, in Committees
of the Whole by unanimous consent. See, for example, Journals,
April 14, 1997, p. 1383; March 22, 2000, p. 1454;
April 1, 2004, pp. 256‑7; February 2, 2007, p. 953.
For comments on the consideration of private bills in a Committee of the Whole,
see also Debates, May 10, 1966, pp. 4958‑9;
March 16, 1967, p. 14085.
 For examples of committees examining private bills referred to
them, see Legislative Committee on Bill S‑9, An Act to amalgamate the
two Corporations known, respectively, as “The Governing Council of the
Salvation Army, Canada East” and “The Governing Council of the Salvation Army, Canada
West” and to make necessary provisions regarding the charter of the amalgamated
corporation, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, February 15,
1990, Issue No. 1; Legislative Committee on Bill S‑10, An Act
respecting the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, Minutes of
Proceedings and Evidence, May 22 and 30, 1990, Issue No. 1.
 Standing Order 141(6). See Journals, April 7, 1927,
p. 476; July 15, 1931, p. 539; August 9, 1958,
p. 397; July 17, 1963, p. 221. See also Beauchesne, 4th ed.,
p. 361, for a list of reasons why private bills have been reported without
their preambles having been proven.
 Bourinot, 4th ed., pp. 611‑2.
 Standing Order 141(3). See Legislative Committee on Bill S‑10,
An Act respecting the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, Minutes
of Proceedings and Evidence, May 22 and 30, 1990, Issue No. 1,
p. 19, in regard to the Chair’s decision to cast a vote only in the event
of a tie.
 Standing Order 141(7).
 Standing Order 141(5). For examples of private bills being reported
to the House from committee with amendments, see Journals,
February 17, 1976, p. 1031 (Bill S‑30, An Act to incorporate
Continental Bank of Canada); April 6, 1978, p. 578 (Bill C‑1001,
An Act respecting Bell Canada). While Standing Orders 141(7) and 141(8)
describe the procedures to be followed in regard to the reprint of a private
bill, the procedures for clause‑by‑clause consideration in
committee of a private bill and the report to the House and reprint of a
private bill are the same today as those procedures established for the
consideration of a public bill in committee. See Chapter 16, “The
Legislative Process”, and Chapter 20, “Committees”.
 Standing Order 141(6). See Journals, July 16, 1931,
p. 552; August 11, 1958, p. 401; July 18, 1963,
pp. 225‑6. If the bill is reported to the House with its preamble
unproven and the House wishes to have the bill reconsidered in committee, the
motion to refer the bill back to committee is considered during Private
 Standing Order 141(4). See also Bourinot, 4th ed.,
 See, for example, Journals, December 18, 1963,
 In 1968, prior to the House resolving into Committee of the Whole
to consider a private bill, the sponsor of the bill informed the House that the
promoters were not in favour of having their bill amended. The sponsor then
asked that the order for consideration of the bill in Committee of the Whole be
discharged and the bill be withdrawn from the Order Paper. The motion
was adopted (Journals, March 14, 1968, p. 774, Debates,
p. 7641). Pursuant to Standing Order 139, if the promoters do not appear
before the committee to proceed with the bill on two separate occasions, the
committee is to report the bill with a recommendation that it be withdrawn.
This Standing Order stems from the days when committees considered numerous
private bills. If the order was called in committee for the consideration of a
private bill and the promoters did not appear, the committee would proceed to
the next private bill on its agenda. If the promoters did not appear the second
time their private bill was scheduled for consideration, the order would be
Order 89 ensures that when any private bill (from the House or the Senate) is
reported from committee, the order for its first consideration at this
subsequent stage appears at the bottom of the order of precedence.
 Standing Order 142. See Journals, February 26, 1976,
p. 1070, where the Speaker ruled that report stage is part of the
legislative process for the passage of a private bill. For examples of private
bills being amended at report stage, see Journals, October 28,
1971, p. 896; March 16, 1972, p. 195.
 See, for example, Journals, March 15, 1893,
p. 161; March 17, 1893, p. 170.
 Standing Order 143.
 See, for example, Journals, May 4, 1886, p. 215;
May 5, 1886, p. 228; May 14, 1886, p. 267; May 17,
1886, p. 275.
 See, for example, Journals, April 15, 1889,
 See, for example, Journals, March 13, 1990,
p. 1338; March 29, 1990, pp. 1435‑6;
June 6, 1990, p. 1838; June 12, 1990, pp. 1872‑3.
information on the holding of conferences between the Houses, see Chapter 16,
“The Legislative Process”.