HOW DOES PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BUSINESS WORK?
Once a bill or motion has been drafted, the Member must give 48 hours’ notice of his or her intention to introduce the bill or move the motion. For a motion, this is done either by sending the signed text of the motion to the Journals Branch or by using the E-Notice system (available at http://prismextra.parl.gc.ca/enotice). For a bill, this is done by sending to the Journals Branch a signed original of the bill (duly certified by a parliamentary counsel) along with the form indicating the committee to which the bill will be referred. In order to appear in the next Notice Paper, notices must be received before 6:00 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays and before 2:00 p.m. on Fridays when the House is sitting. When the House is adjourned, any such notice may be filed with the Journals Branch before 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday before the next sitting of the House. The Journals Branch then publishes the text of the motion or the title of the bill in the next sitting’s Notice Paper.
After the 48 hour notice period expires, a motion (other than a motion for the production of papers) will move from the Notice Paper to the list of Private Members’ Business items outside the Order of Precedence on the Order Paper. Unlike other motions, a motion for the production of papers (which are called only on Wednesdays during Routine Proceedings) must be transferred for debate, either by the Member that sponsored that motion or by the government before it appears on the list under “Notices of Motions (Papers)”. A request to transfer a motion for the production of papers for debate under Private Members’ Business is usually made only when the government declines to produce the papers called for. It is only after this transfer that a notice of motion for the production of papers may be selected as an item of Private Members’ Business. Motions on the list of items outside the Order of Precedence cannot be moved and debated yet; they are merely ready for the next step.
Although Private Members’ Business items outside the Order of Precedence are officially part of the Order Paper, they do not actually appear in the printed publication. The list may be consulted at the Table in the Chamber or on the electronic version of the Order Paper, available on the parliamentary Web site.
Once the 48-hour notice period is over, a bill will likewise move from the Notice Paper to the Order Paper, where it will appear under the headings “Order of Business — Daily Routine of Business — Introduction of Private Members’ Bills”. The bill may now be introduced and given first reading. Members are asked to inform the Private Members’ Business Office prior to the day they intend to introduce a bill. The Office will in turn inform the Table so that the Speaker will recognize the Member when he or she rises.
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 then announces the title of the bill and gives the Member the opportunity to make a brief statement outlining its purpose. The bill is then read a first time and ordered to be printed. It is not debated at this time but is ordered to be read again “at the next sitting of the House”. The bill now has a number and is put on the list of Private Members’ Business items outside the Order of Precedence where it is set down for second reading and reference to a committee. It is then ready for the next step.
All private Members’ bills and motions continue from one session to the next within the same Parliament, except of course, the bills and motions that were defeated, withdrawn or dropped from the Order Paper. However, private Members’ bills and motions do not continue from one Parliament to the next.