I would like to make a statement concerning similarities between two bills that are currently before the House.
Bill C-243, An Act respecting the elimination of the use of forced labour and child labour in supply chains, standing in the name of the member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, received first reading on February 8 last and was added to the order of precedence on February 9, 2022.
As for Bill S-211, An Act to enact the Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains Act and to amend the Customs Tariff, standing in the name of the member for Scarborough—Guildwood, a message from the Senate was received on April 29, 2022, informing the House of its adoption. It then received first reading and was added to the order of precedence on May 3, 2022.
These two bills have the same objective, to require certain entities, including federal institutions, to report on the measures that they take to prevent and reduce the risk of using forced labour or child labour in the production of goods or in their supply chains.
The case before the House involves an unusual set of circumstances. Normally, in the case of private members' bills, the Subcommittee on Private Members' Business would designate as non-votable a bill that is essentially the same as one higher up on the order of precedence. However, as it states at page 1144 of the third edition of House of Commons Procedure and Practice:
In the case of a private Member’s public bill originating in the Senate, the only ground on which such a bill can be designated non-votable is its similarity to a bill voted on by the House in the same Parliament.
Since Bill C-243 had not been voted on when the Subcommittee on Private Members’ Business reviewed Bill S-211, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, on the recommendation of its subcommittee, designated the bill votable in its report to the House of May 11, 2022. Thus, two similar items are listed on the order of precedence for Private Members’ Business.
Since Bill S-211 was adopted on June 1 at second reading and referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, the House now finds itself in a situation in which a decision has been made with respect to one of two bills containing similar provisions and seeking the same objective.
There is a long-standing practice that prohibits the same question from being decided twice by the House during the same session. In adopting Bill S-211 at second reading, the House agreed to the principle of that bill and, thus, has also made a decision on the principle of Bill C-243.
On May 11, 2022, in a ruling found at page 5,125 of Debates, the Chair considered a similar situation concerning two other similar bills. At that time, it was determined that the House should not find itself in a situation in which it was called on to decide on the same question twice in a single session.
Standing Order 94(1) grants the Speaker the authority to make all arrangements necessary to ensure the orderly conduct of Private Members’ Business. In accordance with this authority, the Chair is ordering that the status of Bill C-243 remain pending and that it not be considered. This leaves open the possibility that Bill C-243 may be reinstated in the next session, pursuant to Standing Order 86.1, should by any chance Bill S-211 fail to be enacted in this session.
I thank all members for their attention.