Mr. Speaker, this point of order concerns the presence of Bill C-257 and Bill C-295 on our order paper. Both of these bills are private members' bills and they provide for prohibitions on the use by employers in federal jurisdictions of replacement workers during a strike. Bill C-257 was passed at second reading by this House on October 25, last week.
Both of these bills are substantially the same and I proceed on the assumption that the Speaker will agree that they are substantially the same, one minor difference between them being that the quantum of a fine or penalty for an infraction is slightly different.
The passage or adoption of both of these bills would create a legal impossibility or confusion here for our Parliament and for the public. The House is now faced with this issue. Fortunately, we do have some wisdom of a previous House to rely on.
The question is, what should happen to the second bill, which the House has not voted on yet? I refer to the ruling of the Speaker in this chamber on October 29, 1957, almost exactly 49 years ago, when a bill introduced by a member to provide for vacation pay for employees in federal jurisdictions was substantially the same as a government bill then introduced. From the journal, the Speaker quotes from Erskine May, 15th Edition, page 499:
There is no rule or custom which restrains the presentation of two or more bills relating to the same subject, and containing similar provisions. But if a decision of the House has already been taken on one such bill, for example, if the bill has been given or refused a second reading, the other is not proceeded with if it contains substantially the same provisions, and such a bill could not have been introduced on a motion for leave. But if a bill is withdrawn, after having made progress, another bill with the same objects may be proceeded with.
Here I refer the Speaker also to Beauchesne's sixth edition, at page 198, note 653.
If the Chair agrees that because of the adoption of Bill C-257 last week some step must be taken to deal with Bill C-295, the question is, then, what is to be done?
Bill C-295 is currently on the order of precedence and could ordinarily move to a second hour of debate and a vote as early as next week, I think next Tuesday. I think it is clear that this bill should not be further debated and should not be voted on at second reading. The bill should be removed from the order of precedence because that listing is specifically designed to provide for debate and disposition by the House.
I would submit that it is not necessary to have the bill totally withdrawn because it is possible that Bill C-257, which was passed, could be defeated or negatively dealt with by this House or a committee in the future.The way would then be clear for the mover of Bill C-295 to proceed with that bill.
However, we should also note that the member introducing Bill C-295, which has not been dealt with at second reading by the House, has already been selected by our rules to move a bill that he has selected, and he has chosen this one. It would be arguably unfair to prejudice his position by placing him and his bill back in the initial order paper, at the back of the line behind all of the members who have private members' business.
What I am suggesting is that the Speaker place the bill aside in a type of procedural holding place, a procedural position not yet provided for in our rules but adverted to in the 1957 Speaker's ruling, so that the bill could be placed on the order of precedence again in this session, or even in a subsequent session, if that is consistent with the procedures for private members bills'. As for Bill C-257, if it is defeated or otherwise removed from the order paper, this issue could also be reviewed, of course, by the procedure and House affairs Committee.
I hope my comments are helpful to the Chair and will enable the Speaker to take the most appropriate action on this matter.