House of Commons Hansard #30 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Standing Orders of the House of Commons
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Maxime Bernier Beauce, QC

Mr. Speaker, I agree completely with my colleague. I think that all the members of this House also share the view that there should be equal treatment, and that is the aim of this motion.

Standing Orders of the House of Commons
Private Members' Business

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, in my opinion the motion before the House is fraught with problems. I would urge all colleagues in the House not to vote in favour of it.

I will give a little of the history.

For many years, members of Parliament sought to increase the role of the private member. Until the 1980s, a private member's bill or motion was debated for one hour, usually talked out, mainly by a designated government member, and then the item would fall to the bottom of the list and disappear forever. All this began to change following the adoption of the McGrath committee report in 1986. Since then, and gradually, the procedures have been changed.

First, some private members' business items have become votable. Then a further change made most of those items votable, which as all hon. members in the House will know is the system still in effect right now.

Before the landmark changes of 1986, private members' bills dealt almost exclusively with riding name changes and other similar non-controversial issues. Today, however, things are very different. For example, in 2005, part VII of the Official Languages Act was given judicial status by way of a private member's bill from a senator and in the House by the then MP Don Boudria. All parties in the House supported that bill. The hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst was an enthusiastic supporter of the measure.

If we move on to the 39th Parliament, the international development assistance was placed under a new accountability regime, thanks again to a private member's bill sponsored by the hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood.

The Kelowna Accord Implementation Act and the Kyoto Implementation Act were both private members' bills. The latter was authored by the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier. I would like to congratulate all those members.

The question that needs to be asked is this. How did these bills become law? First, they became law because a member of Parliament proposed the measure in question. Second, they passed the House of Commons because a majority of the members sitting voted for those bills. Finally, the Senate gave these bills a priority status and passed them, as well. That is how those bills were passed. This is how private members' bills that originate in this House are passed and become statute laws of Canada.

The motion that we have before us reads:

That Standing Order 89 be amended by deleting the words “and of second reading of a private Member's public bill originating in the Senate”; and Standing Order 86.2(2) be amended by deleting the words “a Senate public bill or”.

Now while some members may mistakenly believe that if fewer Senate bills were on the House order of precedence, more House bills would pass, but the effect is the exact opposite. In fact, we in the House give priority to the small number of Senate private members' bills that reach our House and in exchange our private members' bills receive priority in the other House. It does not mean the House always gets its way, but it does mean that the absence of this reciprocal agreement would be to the disadvantage of the House.

When the member for Beauce says that he only wants reciprocity, in fact, if one looks at the system that exists in the Senate, there is reciprocity with the system that we have in the House to deal with private members' bills originating from the Senate.

Senate private members' bills would be relegated to the bottom of the list on the House side, while House bills would go to the bottom of the Senate list rather than to the top, as is currently the case. I will speculate as to who would come out the winner in a minute.

All the reform measures for which hon. members have fought for years would disappear with the passage of this motion. Private members' bills would almost never become law in the future. The only winners in this scheme, in my view, could possibly be the Conservative House leader and his colleagues around the cabinet. If it were another party in power and a member of that party proposed this change to the Standing Orders, I would rise and say the same thing, even if it were my own party sitting on the other side.

It would mean that many fewer private members' bills would ever have the chance of becoming law. The 1986 reforms and the reforms subsequent to those virtually guarantee that when we table a private member's bill it stands a good chance of becoming law.

Should Motion No. 277 sponsored by the member for Beauce actually be adopted in the House and the Standing Orders changed, we would be disadvantaging ourselves. More and more power would be drawn away from Parliament and placed into the hands of the Prime Minister and the governing party. I do not believe for one minute that this scheme originated in the mind of the hon. member for Beauce. I will leave it to others to speculate as to where it actually originated, but I have to say it would be one giant step backward for the backbench should it succeed and one very sweet victory for any government that is secretive, unaccountable and--

Standing Orders of the House of Commons
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I could be wrong but I think it may be against the practices of the House to speculate on the motives of other members.

The hon. member was leaving it to us to speculate as to where this originated. We know where it originated because it was mentioned in the hon. member's speech. It originated with the member for Crowfoot in the previous Parliament. That was stated earlier in debate.

Standing Orders of the House of Commons
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for that enlightening information. We now know where this motion originated.

I come back to the point that if this motion should be adopted, members would be disadvantaged. Members of the opposition and backbench members of the current governing party or any future governing party would be disadvantaged. That is why I am against this motion and I am calling on all members in the House to vote against it.

It is unfortunate that a member would seek to modify the current Standing Orders of the House to disempower backbench MPs rather than to further empower backbench MPs. This motion would reduce the chances that each of us has of a bill, if and when it came up for debate, being adopted, going to the Senate, being treated with priority, which it should, and becoming the law of the land.

This motion would put us back to pre-1986. While I found the movie Back to the Future to be interesting, I do not know about anyone else, but I have no interest in reliving it here. I was not here prior to 1986. I came here in 1997. I thought we had a pretty good system. I have no problem whatsoever looking at our system here and actually learning what the system is in the Senate and whether the Senate treats private bills from senators differently, with more priority, than it treats private members' bills that originate in this House, are adopted here and are sent to the other place.

That is the point that needs to be looked at. That is the point the procedure and House affairs committee is looking at, which is why I believe that the member's motion is premature and has not been properly researched and thought out. One looks for reciprocity and reciprocity means that if the Senate gives priority to its private bills, it should give priority to private members' bills from this House.

Standing Orders of the House of Commons
Private Members' Business

1:50 p.m.

Bloc

Claude DeBellefeuille Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak about the motion by the member for Beauce. This motion aims to amend the House of Commons Standing Orders with regard to private member's business. More precisely, the motion aims to amend the way in which Senate private members' bills are dealt with by the House. I would like to summarize the situation.

Currently, the Standing Orders state that when a Senate private member's bill is sent to the House, any member can sponsor the bill and undertake its first reading in the House. Once it has undergone first reading, the bill immediately drops to the bottom of the order of precedence for second reading in the House. A member who sponsors a senator's bill does not lose their place on the list for consideration of private members' business. They can therefore, when their turn comes, introduce another bill or motion of their choice.

The member for Beauce is proposing that Senate private members' bills receive the same treatment as House of Commons private members' bills. If a member chooses to sponsor a Senate bill, he would have to, henceforth, use his turn on the order of precedence for Senate bills and could not introduce another bill or motion. The government has already attempted to justify this change by telling us that the House has been inundated with Senate private members' bills. Let us take a closer look at this claim.

During the second session of the 37th Parliament, in 153 sitting days, four Senate private members' bills were introduced in the House. In the third session of the same Parliament, in 55 days, four Senate private members' bills were also introduced in the House. In the 38th Parliament, in 159 sitting days, five Senate private members' bills were introduced compared to six in 175 sittings days in the first session of the 39th Parliament. This rose to nine in the 117 days of the second session of the 39th Parliament.

I do not see a drastic or dramatic increase in the numbers, especially since certain bills, such as the one on heritage lighthouses, have come up more than once, because they keep dying on the order paper. That observation led me to question what the member's real motives are for proposing these amendments to the Standing Orders.

We are all aware that this government is obsessed with reforming the Senate, without consulting Quebec and the provinces. We are all aware of the government's desire to drastically and unilaterally reform the Senate, failing which they have threatened to abolish it. The government wants to carry out this Senate reform bit by bit, through several bills, rather than amending the Constitution, which is what it should do. In that regard, I would remind the House that the Canadian Constitution is a federal constitution. There are therefore very good reasons for ensuring that a change in the fundamental characteristics of the Senate should not be affected by one Parliament alone, but rather be part of a multilateral constitutional process involving Quebec and the provinces. Furthermore, on November 7, 2007, the former Quebec intergovernmental affairs minister, Benoît Pelletier, reiterated Quebec's traditional position by stating:

The Government of Quebec does not believe that this falls exclusively under federal jurisdiction. Given that the Senate is a crucial part of the Canadian federal compromise, it is clear to us that under the Constitution Act, 1982, and the Regional Veto Act, the Senate can be neither reformed nor abolished without Quebec's consent.

On that very day, Quebec's National Assembly unanimously passed the following motion:

That the National Assembly of Québec reaffirm to the federal government and to the Parliament of Canada that no modification to the Canadian Senate may be carried out without the consent of the Government of Québec and the National Assembly.

Getting back to the motion moved by the member for Beauce, given the situation I described, we have every reason to question the government's motives. Is this an attempt to muzzle the Senate? It certainly looks that way. If the government were serious about Senate reform, it would proceed with a constitutional amendment. But it is reluctant to take that approach because it knows as well as we do that Canada's Constitution cannot be amended.

Over the past two years, it has tried to introduce reforms through a series of possibly unconstitutional bills, which it failed to move through the legislative process. As a result, it has resorted to attempts to weaken the Senate's power by changing the Standing Orders. This government is stooping to new lows.

In addition, given the blatantly partisan tactics with which this government is familiar, I also wonder whether it would be in such a hurry to amend the House of Commons Standing Orders if the government held a majority in the Senate. Somehow, I doubt it.

All that is to say that the Bloc Québécois will not support the motion by the member for Beauce. Although we feel that the Senate is a useless institution that should be abolished in a round of constitutional talks, we have to live with the fact that, for the time being, this institution exists and is an integral part of Parliament. Consequently, we feel that the Standing Orders, especially as regards relations between the two houses of Parliament, should not be amended lightly without a serious study of the impacts of the proposed amendments.

We are of the opinion that the appropriate forum for such a study is the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. Until the committee has looked seriously at this issue, there is no need to amend the Standing Orders. Consequently, the motion by the member for Beauce is premature, in our opinion.

Standing Orders of the House of Commons
Private Members' Business

2 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House today to speak for the NDP to Motion No. 277.

I have been a member of this House since 1997 and private members' business has changed quite a lot. I can remember the days when we had to go before a committee and argue whether or not our bill or motion should be votable. Most were not votable and only a few made it through. However, the system has changed a lot and I think all of us in this place highly value private members' business.

We are in a tradition that is very strong on parties and private members' business is one of the few areas that we have left where members can advance an item that pertains to their riding or an issue that they care deeply about that they want to see go through the House.

Private members' business is something we all highly prize and enjoy and something we want to see continued.

In looking at private members' business, one of the important issues is the principle of equality that it brings. We have a system of having a draw and we have the order of precedence. When I explain that to my constituents or to people who are interested in a certain bill or motion, they have some trouble understanding this rather archaic system of actually having a draw, like a lottery, but that is the system we use.

However, It does give an opportunity to all members and does not put some members above others. It is a system that, through the lottery and through the order of precedence, allows members to have their bills or motions come forward.

I began with that point because the sense of equality and the sense that there is no discrimination among members in the House is very important in how we deal with private members' business.

I thank the member for Beauce for bringing this motion forward but it is unfortunate that he is now being blamed for bringing it forward because the procedure and House affairs committee happens to be studying this. However, his motion came forward because his name was drawn and he had a right to do that. We cannot nail the person and then say that somehow they should not have done that.

The procedure and House affairs committee, of which I am not a member but I did go to one meeting, only decided to study this issue after this motion came forward. Therefore, to somehow deny the member the first hour or a subsequent hour of debate is unfair. I wanted to say that because I thought it was a bit unfair to go down that path.

I agree with the member from the Bloc who just said that we should not change the Standing Orders lightly. The Standing Orders are a very complex set of rules and they arrived where they are for a thousand and one reasons. To change them, one needs to look at them carefully. I am glad the procedure and House affairs committee is doing that study because we need to get more information in terms of how the Senate deals with business comes from the House of Commons. There has been some general understanding about what happens but we need to have a better sense of how it deals with the priorities and whether or not there will be impacts.

We in the NDP had quite a lively debate in our caucus about this motion. We felt that the underlying principle here was the need to be fair to members in the House of Commons. This idea that bills or motions coming from the Senate are automatically placed ahead in the queue is something that, quite frankly, we find very frustrating.

I think the tendency today in the debate has been to somehow suggest that if this motion were to go through, it would eliminate opportunities for members of the Senate to bring items of business forward and, of course, that is not the case. What is being suggested here is that what would be left behind is their automatic entrance into the order of precedence.

What would happen, if this motion were to pass, is that something which came from the Senate would need to be sponsored by a member who was in the order of precedence in the House of Commons by a member of Parliament. We would all have that choice. We could choose one of our own items or something that came from the Senate but it would be very clear that we could not, in effect, double-dip.

The need for members to have a sense of equality and fairness about how we are treated in terms of private members' business is what underlies this debate. I was a little worried when I heard the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine characterize this motion as something that would disempower members in the House of Commons. My understanding is that the motion is being put forward to ensure members retain the order of precedence and that it does not get bumped by bills or motions coming from the Senate.

This idea that we are disempowering ourselves makes me wonder if the member knows something that we do not know, that there is some kind of retaliation that will take place. That does concern me because I do not think we want to get into that. This is about our Standing Orders. This is about how we treat our members, how we receive our business and how we deal with it, and we should focus on that.

This is the first hour of debate. There will be a second hour of debate. The procedure and house affairs committee is looking at this quite closely, which is a good thing. Maybe, as a result of that examination, which is not mutually exclusive to the member's motion today, we might have a better understanding of what happens in the Senate and be able to arrive at some kind of understanding about what needs to be done in terms of changes to the Standing Orders.

At this point, for us in the NDP, although there may be various opinions among our members, we are generally supportive of the principle of ensuring that there is fairness and equality for private members' business. We think that is very important.

We do realize that we need to proceed carefully. We are perfectly okay with the fact that the procedure and house affairs committee is looking into that. Our member on that committee will be very involved. I think it is possible that by the time the committee has done its study, we will be getting close to the second hour of debate. Maybe there will be some more informed opinion about what we might want to do with this motion.

I do not think we should automatically can the idea on the basis of almost implied threats that come through to the members of this place from the Senate. I really do not want to buy into that and I do not want to see us get into that kind of debate. We should look at our Standing Orders from the point of view of the needs of members in the House of Commons and we should take it under careful consideration.

Those are some of the comments that we have about this motion. We look forward to the continuing information that will come forward in the debate that will take place. We will see where it goes. Hopefully, we can stick to this principle of equality for members of the House of Commons and ensure there are fair rules in place.

Standing Orders of the House of Commons
Private Members' Business

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Scott Reid Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am going to start where my hon. colleague from the New Democratic Party left off, which is on the subject of the implied potential from the Liberal member's comments earlier, vis-à-vis some kind of retaliation in the Senate. The apparent threat was that senators would decide not to allow private members' business from the House to go forward and this would result in all members being disenfranchised.

This is implausible for two reasons. First of all, it is beneath our hon. colleagues in the other place. They would do no such thing because they are just as honourable and just as dedicated to the public interest as are members here. Second and equally fundamentally is the fact that the rules of the Senate do not permit that kind of action. They do not permit a change to the standing orders of the Senate that would cause private members' business from the House to be in some way pushed off the order paper. Indeed that is not what is happening here with Senate legislation in this House. The rules do not permit that.

The Senate cycles through its entire agenda every day. It has no order of precedence in the form that the House of Commons has. Therefore, there is no standing order that states that House of Commons private members' bills will arise at a certain spot.

The analogy I have used elsewhere for how it works in the Senate is it is similar to a sushi bar and all the little boats that float by at the sushi bar are equivalent to items of business. They all go past and we pick out the ones we want for the day. Every day the Senate could decide to be malicious and refuse to deal with items of private members' business originating in the House, but they would have to do it every day. They would all have to reaffirm that they are all acting maliciously in order to get back at the House of Commons.

That is a highly implausible course of action given their personalities. Indeed, even if they were malicious people it would be hard to keep that up on an ongoing basis. I think that threat is implausible.

Let me go back to some of the facts about how this motion will affect private members' business in this House. Our rules currently allow for one item of private members' business to be discussed every sitting day. On average, there are 132 sitting days in Parliament in a year. The first 20 days of a parliamentary session are used for other purposes and no private members' business is considered. We are left with 112 sitting days. It takes two sitting days to get a private member's item through at second reading in the House of Commons and on to committee. That leaves 66 items that can be dealt with in an average year, if nothing else intrudes and takes up the time available for private members' business, such as Senate private members' bills.

Given the number of members of Parliament who are eligible to bring forward private members' bills, that means that in four years, each member can expect to get one item through, assuming we have a four year Parliament.

Every time something else intrudes on that, such as a Senate bill that pushes its way up the order of precedence, the practical effect is that some member of Parliament gets dumped off the bottom of the list. In practice, in examining previous years, we find that most members of Parliament do not make it onto the order of precedence to get their items of business discussed in any given Parliament.

I know of members on my side of the House who have been here since 1993 who have not yet had private members' business come up. On average, members have managed to get one item every four parliaments. That is a statistical average going back over the past four parliaments. I am down around numbers 106 to 170, which is outside the order of precedence. I do not anticipate I will be able to get my item into the order of precedence, whether or not Senate bills come up.

Clearly there are members further up the list who have a realistic prospect, unless Senate bills push their items out of the way. The goal is to make sure that those individuals do not have their items pushed off the order paper.

If a member who is closer to the top of the list chooses to do so, he or she is free to sponsor a Senate private member's bill that has passed through the Senate. He or she would lose his or her place to produce his or her own bill. That is what our rules would allow for, if changed in the manner proposed by my hon. colleague from Beauce in his motion. That seems reasonable.

There is good reason to drop one's own item and pick up an item recommended and passed through the Senate. For one thing, it has already made it through the other place. It stands a very good chance of actually making its way into law because it is halfway through the legislative journey through the two chambers. Many items coming from the Senate have considerable merit as pieces of legislation, so there are reasons to do it.

What is not reasonable is that the way it works now, any member, whether high on the list of precedence or not, can sponsor a bill that is passed through the Senate and push every single other item of private members' business in this House down a notch, thereby pushing somebody off the list. For every Senate bill that is preferred in this manner, inevitably one member will fall off the list. Every single time that occurs, one member drops off that list and his or her item of private members' business will not be discussed.

The more items that come from the Senate, the more this happens. I believe the number may be rising. It may not be rising to the point that it is going to push all business off the list, which I think was the point my colleague from the Bloc Québécois was raising. Nevertheless, every time a Senate bill is preferred in this manner, one member of this chamber loses his or her ability to raise an item of business. That is pretty significant.

I want to emphasize again that this is not discrimination against items from the Senate. They are perfectly sponsorable under the rules in exactly the same manner as a bill that has originated here can be picked up.

My colleague from Beauce chose to raise this item of business even though the original concept came from the member for Crowfoot rather than something that sprang fully formed from his own head like the goddess Athena sprang from the head of Zeus. Nonetheless, he is doing something he believes makes sense and is credible because he can see a good idea when he recognizes it, in the same way any member of this House can spot a good idea coming from the Senate and choose to adopt it. I suspect that practice would continue for the reasons that I offered earlier.

Now I will deal with the technical aspects of the motion.

The motion's meaning is not obvious in the way it reads. In order to aid any member who is having trouble understanding the exact mechanical way in which it works, I will read it and then go into how the rules have changed. The motion reads as follows:

That Standing Order 89 be amended by deleting the words “and of second reading of a private Member's public bill originating in the Senate”; and Standing Order 86.2(2) be amended by deleting the words “a Senate public bill or”.

That, of course, does not tell us anything. I will now turn to the Standing Orders. When I read the relevant Standing Orders it will start to make sense.

Standing Order 86.2(2) currently reads as follows:

A Member shall not lose his or her place on the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business by virtue of sponsoring a Senate public bill or a private bill,--

A private bill is a bill that concerns one individual.

--but no Member may sponsor more than one such bill during a Parliament.

We would drop the words, “a Senate public bill or” from that, and it would read, “A Member shall not lose his or her place on the List for the Consideration of Private Members’ Business by virtue of sponsoring a private bill, but no Member may sponsor more than one such bill during a Parliament”. That is the change that would occur to that Standing Order.

Standing Order 89 would be changed from the current wording, which is the following:

The order for the first consideration of any subsequent stages of a bill already considered during Private Members’ Business, of second reading of a private bill and of second reading of a private Member’s public bill originating in the Senate shall be placed at the bottom of the order of precedence.

That means the bottom of the order of precedence for private members' business. Effectively, it means the next vacancy, typically about 30 spots down the list and ahead of every other item of private members' business. That would be changed to drop the words “and of second reading of a private Member's public bill originating in the Senate”. That would be removed.

I think that explains the technical changes. The result would be that Senate private members' bills would still be able to move forward, but would not push private members' business from other MPs out of the way in so doing.

Standing Orders of the House of Commons
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is my inclination to oppose this motion, remembering that once this motion is passed by the House, it becomes an amendment to our Standing Orders, and once it is there, the only way we can change or modify it is to back it out. I am not sure that all members--

Standing Orders of the House of Commons
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I apologize for interrupting the hon. member for Scarborough—Rouge River, but I believe the Minister of Health wants to rise on a point of order.

Bill C-2—Notice of time allocation motion
Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act
Private Members' Business

March 13th, 2009 / 2:15 p.m.

Nunavut
Nunavut

Conservative

Leona Aglukkaq Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, an agreement could not be reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) with respect to the third reading stage of Bill C-2, Canada-EFTA Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or time or hours for consideration and disposal of proceedings at the said stage.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Standing Orders of the House of commons
Private Members' Business

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, on the motion to amend our Standing Orders, I am hopeful members will have a chance to think this through carefully. It appears that the procedure and House affairs committee, probably as a result of this motion, has undertaken a look at this procedure.

I do not think the government would care too much about this matter. Private members' business is usually not on the government agenda at all. However, I think backbenchers, members who are not members of the cabinet, would have a concern. The matter has at least an indirect and perhaps a direct impact on our ability to get our bills, not our motions, passed fully through the House and the Senate.

I look back about 25 to 30 years ago when the House went through a whole lot of reforms and changes to produce greater empowerment of backbenchers. Private members' business is one of the envelopes of activities that members, who are not members of the government cabinet, have to produce changes in policy and legislation.

It has been recognized by most of us that the route to passage of a private member's bill through the House and through the Senate is a little easier if it is a Senate bill coming to the House, rather than a House bill going to the Senate. There are more MPs and fewer senators. There are more impediments and greater competition in the House to get matters into the stage where they are voted on than it is in the Senate where there are just a few senators.

I also have to point out that we would not normally expect that we would get a lot of original legislation from the Senate. The Senate is not an elected body and one would not think that it would be purporting to generate large volumes of original legislation. It simply, and I say this respectfully, is not the place of the Senate to be a house that generates a lot of original legislation, but it does from time to time, produce private members' business, which is very respectable and quite ready for prime time.

However, we have noticed the numbers increasing over the last few years. It is a practical fact that it is statistically harder for a member of the House to get a bill dealt with in the House and then over to the Senate and fully passed than it is for a senator to get a bill through that house and get it over to this House and passed here.

Members, in looking at this motion, are reacting to that practical fact. It was never intended that it be easier for senators to get their private members' bills passed than it was for MPs. That is simply the way the two sets of rules and the workings of Parliament are at this point.

We have addressed the issue of whether there would be an impact in the Senate of a change to our rules here. It would be naive to expect that there would not be a reaction. If we are not to accord in the House full respect to a bill fully passed by the Senate, why would we expect the Senate would accord full respect to a bill passed in this House and sent there? I think it is naive to suggest that senators would go on with their business and not pay attention to this.

In order to find out, we have to deal with the Senate. For that purpose, I suggest some kind of a conference between the House and the Senate.

I suggest there will be an impact on our private members' business. It will be potentially kneecapped in the Senate because of disinterest in the Senate, feigned or otherwise, as a result of us making it much more difficult for Senate bills that have been approved there to be made into law here in the House. We should not underestimate that. The Senate is not oblivious to what happens in the House. I think we all understand that.

As I mentioned before, the motion by the originating member is catalytic. It should be seen as that. It has caught the attention of both Houses. It is being dealt with by the procedure and House affairs committee. Maybe one of the solutions is to cap the number of Senate private member bills that we allow into the order of precedence in this House in a session, and cap them at a reasonable number. The committee will look at this.

However, in my view, we should not pass this motion. If we pass it, my experience tells me that there will have to be a subsequent change and we will have to back the motion out and deal with it in another way.

Therefore, we should not pass the motion. We should clearly await the disposition of this by the procedure and House affairs committee. Our colleagues are studying this. I have great confidence that if they finish their study in time and report back to us, they will have an arrangement that would suit us and suit our counterparts in the Senate.

Standing Orders of the House of commons
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Yukon. He will have a 10 minute slot to fill, but we only have about four minutes before the end of today's proceedings.

Standing Orders of the House of commons
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I find this a little strange. We have a bicameral system, with two Houses of Parliament and, in a number of ways, with very similar powers. As a member from the Bloc outlined, one House in a session of Parliament has only four questions. In fact, in the first session of this Parliament, it had zero questions. It is so lopsided. I do not know why this would even be an issue. It is statistically not a substantive issue.

Colleagues who have spoken before in the House have outlined how, in a number of cases, the laws of Canada have been much improved by amendments in the other place. Certain experts have been appointed to that body. They do detailed studies in certain areas, studies that members of the House of Commons do not have time to perform.

A whole list of legislation has been much improved, and Canadians would agree with that. Legislators in both Houses would agree it has been much improved because of the input from the Senate. Because this has not been abused and because it happens rarely, we should not spend a lot of time on this. There are a lot of other Standing Orders that need to be dealt with much more rapidly.

There is a take note debate on the Standing Orders at the beginning of every Parliament in which everyone can put forward their opinions. I know we all have a lot of opinions on things that should be changed.

Unfortunately, that debate occurs between the 60th and the 90th day of the first session of a Parliament. I do not think, when that provision was put in place, anyone thought we would ever have a first session of Parliament last only 13 days, which is what happened this time. As the 60th to 90th day never occurred, we could not have that debate.

Therefore, I ask for a ruling from the Speaker. It was the spirit of the amendment that there be a take note debate on the Standing Orders at the beginning of every Parliament. In the spirit of that, would he allow it to now occur in the second session of Parliament because the first session of Parliament was so strangely abbreviated? We could still have that take note debate and all members of the House could put forward their ideas on the Standing Orders, such as the ones before us.

Standing Orders of the House of commons
Private Members' Business

2:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The Speaker will take under advisement the point the member for Yukon raised.

The time provided for the consideration of private members' business has expired and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

It being 2:30 p.m., the House stands adjourned until Monday, March 23 at 11 a.m., pursuant to Standing Orders 24(1) and 28(2).

(The House adjourned at 2:30 p.m.)