House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 39th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conditional.

Topics

Child Care
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ken Boshcoff Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I also present a petition, containing several dozen pages, with regard to early learning and care. People continue to sign the petition now that they know what the serious implications of losing the program are in the province of Ontario.

Wilbert Coffin
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present another petition from the people in the riding of Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine. This petition of approximately 1,000 signatures concerns a very important matter. It is asking the federal justice minister to push for a judicial review in the matter of Wilbert Coffin who was sentenced to death in 1954 and hanged on February 10, 1956.

Child Care
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I present on behalf of the people of Cape Breton—Canso a petition that has been echoed in this chamber, evidenced by a number of similar petitions that have been presented. It is with respect to the cancellation of the agreements struck across the country for the benefit of young families in early education and child care.

The petitioners call upon the government to honour the agreement that was struck between the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia on early learning and child care.

The petition is signed by a great number of residents from Cape Breton—Canso who are very concerned about the cancellation of that agreement.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Raymond Chan Richmond, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Notice of Motion No. P-7 asks for a document to which the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister claimed to be referring to in question period almost a month ago. If the parliamentary secretary were telling the truth, the government must have the document at the ready. I cannot understand why the government is not prepared to deal with this matter now.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, the response we gave originally still stands. I am sorry if I did not catch the hon. member's prelude to his question. If he is referring to the tabling of document question referred to today, I believe the hon. House leader has said that he would produce that document tomorrow.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it agreed that all Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers be allowed to stand?

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Motions for Papers
Routine Proceedings

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I wish to inform the House that because of the ministerial statement, government orders will be extended by 14 minutes.

Private Members' Business
Routine Proceedings

May 31st, 2006 / 3:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

With the indulgence of the House, since we are about to take up private members' business for the first time in this session later this afternoon, and indeed in this Parliament, I wish to make a statement regarding the management of such business, particularly with regard to how it has evolved over the past few years.

In March 2003 the House adopted provisionally a series of new procedures for the conduct of private members' business. I need not go into all the details here except to say that one of the main principles of this reform was that, over the course of a Parliament, each eligible member would have the opportunity to have an item debated and voted upon. These rules have since been made permanent. While it can be argued that such a system creates more opportunities for private members, it is important to note that such possibilities are not limitless. Certain constitutional procedural realities constrain the Speaker and members insofar as legislation is concerned.

At the beginning of the last Parliament, on November 18, 2004, I reminded all hon. members about the new procedures governing Private Members’ Business and the responsibilities of the Chair in the management of this process. One procedural principle that I underscored in that statement, and in others over the course of the 38th Parliament, concerned the possibility that certain private member’s bills may require a royal recommendation.

While it may seem that this preoccupation of the Chair is new, in fact it is grounded in constitutional principles found in the Constitution Act, 1867. The language of section 54 of that act is echoed in Standing Order 79(1), which reads:

This House shall not adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address or bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the House by a message from the Governor General in the session in which such vote, resolution, address or bill is proposed.

Any bill which authorizes the spending of public funds or effects an appropriation of public funds must be accompanied by a message from the Governor General recommending the expenditure to the House. This message, known formally as the royal recommendation, can only be transmitted to the House by a Minister of the Crown.

This provision protects a fundamental element of responsible government. While all spending must be authorized by Parliament, only the Crown, that is to say the government, may initiate requests for funds.

The government is subsequently held accountable for the spending of such funds.

Recent changes in House procedure have resulted in more attention being paid to the royal recommendation. Until a few years ago, a private member could not even introduce a bill which involved spending provisions. Since 1994, such bills may be introduced and considered right up until third reading, on the assumption that a royal recommendation would be provided by a minister. If none is produced by the conclusion of the third reading stage, the Speaker is required to stop proceedings and rule the bill out of order.

The reforms adopted in 2003 have resulted in more private members' bills being votable, thereby increasing the number of bills with the potential to reach the third reading stage. In addition, as members have only one opportunity to sponsor an item over the course of a Parliament, the Chair wishes to provide members with ample opportunity to address possible procedural issues in relation to their bills. For these reasons, a number of new practices have been instituted.

Where it seems likely that a bill may need a royal recommendation, the member who has requested to have it drafted will be informed of that fact by the legislative counsel responsible for drafting the bill. A table officer will also send a letter to advise the member that the bill may require a royal recommendation.

Should the member decide to proceed with the bill and select it for inclusion in the order of precedence, then, at the beginning of the second reading debate, the Speaker will draw to the attention of the House concerns regarding the royal recommendation. Members may then make submissions regarding the royal recommendation and, if necessary, the Chair will return with a definitive ruling later in the legislative process.

As is stated in House of Commons Procedure and Practice at page 712,

The Speaker has the duty and responsibility to ensure that the Standing Orders on the royal recommendation as well as the constitutional requirements are upheld. There is no provision under the rules of financial procedure which would permit the Speaker to leave it to the House to decide or to allow the House to do so by unanimous consent.

There are a number of bills on the order of precedence which cause the Chair some concern. At first glance, certain provisions of these bills raise questions about the need for a royal recommendation.

These bills are as follows: Bill C-292, standing in the name of the right hon. member for LaSalle—Émard; Bill C-257, standing in the name of the hon. member for Gatineau; Bill C-293, standing in the name of the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood; Bill C-286, standing in the name of the hon. member for Lévis—Bellechasse; Bill C-284, standing in the name of the hon. member for Halifax West; Bill C-278, standing in the name of the hon. member for Sydney—Victoria; Bill C-269, standing in the name of the hon. member for Laurentides—Labelle; Bill C-295, standing in the name of the hon. member for Vancouver Island North; Bill C-303, standing in the name of the hon. member for Victoria; and Bill C-279, standing in the name of the hon. member for Burlington.

While these bills cause me concern, I am not prepared at this point to make a definitive ruling on them. As always, the Chair remains open-minded on these questions. If members wish to present arguments as to why they feel these bills do or do not require a royal recommendation, I certainly would be prepared to hear them. I would then return to the House at the appropriate time with a final decision.

In closing, let me say that while I have no doubt that it is my responsibility as Speaker to uphold the requirements of the Standing Orders and exceptionally, in cases such as these, the Constitution, the duty of reviewing private members' bills for spending provisions is an increasingly onerous one. For this reason, I would welcome any suggestions from the House, House leaders or, indeed, from the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, on how to improve our process in relation to this aspect of the management of private members' business.

I thank all hon. members for their attention.

The hon. member for Hochelaga on a point of order.

Private Members' Business
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Bloc

Réal Ménard Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank you for calmly and diligently expressing your wish to ensure that all members who introduce a private member's bill can complete the process. However, I must say that during the last session, this question also arose on the floor of the House. We would have appreciated it had your statement suggested a minimum list of criteria.

Would it be unreasonable for a humble servant such as myself to ask the Speaker for a certain number of criteria to serve as reference points? For example, one of your predecessors allowed the former member for Montmorency—Beauport to introduce a bill giving additional powers to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation with respect to a redistribution of funds to the provinces.

Thus, if the Speaker would like to direct us toward a certain number of criteria, it would be appreciated. You said, in fact, that it would not be a question of infringing upon the right of any member of this House to table a private member's bill, especially since it has taken so long to get this process going. If you could possibly give us any clarification in terms of guidelines, reference points and criteria, we would be most grateful.

Private Members' Business
Routine Proceedings

3:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

It would certainly be a pleasure for the Speaker to deliver another statement to the House on this matter, but the hon. member knows full well that there is a list of elements of this kind in Marleau and Montpetit, which I quoted in my ruling today. He can consult this book and he will have many opportunities to consult people who prepare bills for presentation in the House because he is well aware of the rules on this. The hon. member could be advised of the problems with his bill or the wording therein that might cause some problems with the Chair later.

I can certainly consider the idea of making a presentation, but there is truly only one principle and I quoted it in my ruling. I have it here in English; I am referring to Standing Order 79(1), which reads as follows:

This House shall not adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address or bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the House by a message from the Governor General in the session in which such vote, resolution, address or bill is proposed.

I think that is the important point. Perhaps we could create a list, but the standing orders are quite clear to me. It is simply a question of determining whether a bill or motion proposes spending any money and, if so, a royal recommendation is needed before passing it in the House.

Is the hon. member for Mississauga South rising on the same point?