I wish to make a statement to the House regarding private members' business.
Members will recall that on October 29, 2004, the House concurred in the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs concerning the provisional Standing Orders on private members' business. The effect of that report is to continue the provisional Standing Orders concerning private members' business until the last sitting day in June 2005.
The complete order of precedence for private members’ business was published this morning in the Order Paper.
The provisional Standing Orders provide that private members' business will not operate on a sessional basis. That is to say that proceedings on private members' business originating in the House will not expire on prorogation, and that the order of precedence will continue from one session to the next.
It is therefore very important that members be clear on the workings of the provisional Standing Orders, as they may not have a second opportunity to present an item even should the House be prorogued. Members should also note that unless specifically designated as non-votable, all private members' business items will be votable.
I would like in particular to draw to the attention of members the possibility that a proposed private members' bill may require a royal recommendation or a ways and means motion.
First of all, I wish to address the royal recommendation. 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. House of Commons Procedure and Practice , page 710 states:
In 1994, the Standing Orders were again amended to remove the requirement that a royal recommendation had to be provided to the House before a bill could be introduced. The royal recommendation can now be provided after the bill has been introduced in the House, as long as it is done before the bill is read a third time and passed....The royal recommendation accompanying a bill must still be printed in the Notice Paper, printed in or annexed to the bill and recorded in the Journals.
With respect to private members' bills, it is stated on pages 711 and 712:
--since the rule change of 1994, private Members' bills involving the spending of public money have been allowed to be introduced and to proceed through the legislative process, on the assumption that a royal recommendation would be submitted by a Minister of the Crown before the bill was to be read a third time and passed. If a royal recommendation were not produced by the time the House was ready to decide on the motion for third reading of the bill, the Speaker would have to stop the proceedings and rule the bill out of order. 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.
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. Members may wish to consult with legislative counsel or with Private Members' Business Office to obtain further advice with respect to individual cases.
It remains my duty as Speaker to make the final decision concerning the need for a royal recommendation. I remain open to hear the submissions of hon. members from both sides of the House who may wish to assist the Chair in reaching a decision on particular bills.
As the House has not yet begun to debate items of private members' business, I felt that it would be of assistance to alert hon. members to the important impact that the requirement for a royal recommendation may have on their bills. The Standing Orders leave no doubt that the House cannot be asked to decide on the motion for the third reading of a bill requiring the expenditure of public funds unless proper notice of a royal recommendation has been given. Should members have any concerns about the provisions of individual bills in this regard, it would be prudent for them to raise such concerns well before the third reading stage is reached.
With regard to ways and means, any bill which imposes or increases a tax on the public must be preceded by the adoption of a motion of ways and means. Such a motion can only be proposed by a minister of the Crown. As House of Commons Procedure and Practice states at pages 758 and 759:
The House must first adopt a Ways and Means motion before a bill which imposes a tax or other charge on the taxpayer can be introduced....Before taxation legislation can be read a first time, a notice of a Ways and Means motion must first be tabled in the House by a Minister of the Crown--
Furthermore, it goes on, at page 898, to state:
With respect to the raising of revenue, a private member cannot introduce bills which impose taxes. The power to initiate taxation rests solely with the government and any legislation which seeks an increase in taxation must be preceded by a ways and means motion.
A member who has requested to have a bill drafted that proposes the imposition or increase of taxation will be so advised by the legislative counsel responsible for drafting the bill. Members may wish to consult with legislative counsel or with Private Members' Business Office to obtain further advice with respect to individual cases.
The Standing Orders are more restrictive with regard to ways and means bills. The Speaker will identify such bills at an early stage to prevent them from being placed on the order of precedence.
I have made this statement as part of my responsibility to ensure the orderly conduct of private members' business. If members should have specific questions on a particular item, I would invite them to contact the Private Members' Business Office.
I would like to inform the House that under the provisions of Standing Order 88, at least two weeks shall elapse between the first and second reading of private members' public bills.
The second reading of Bill C-333, standing as the first item on the order of precedence in the name of the hon. member for Durham, could only have been considered on or after Monday, November 29, 2004.
The debate at second reading of the bill can therefore not take place as scheduled tomorrow. Accordingly, I am directing the table officers to drop that item of business to the bottom of the order of precedence in the Order Paper.
Private members' hour will thus be cancelled and the House will proceed with the business before it prior to private members' hour tomorrow.
I understand the House leader for the official opposition has a question to ask.