Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. On May 31, 2006, you invited members to comment on whether Bill C-303 would require a royal recommendation. Without commenting on the merits of this private member's bill, it is the government's view that the bill does require a royal recommendation.
Subclause 5(1) of the bill provides that:
The Minister of Finance may make a child care transfer payment directly to a province or territory in each fiscal year to support the early learning and child care program of the province or territory....
That would happen if certain conditions were met. These conditions are expanded upon in subclauses 5(2) and 5(5) and clause 6. In other words, subclause 5(1) would provide authority for transfer payments.
Some members could argue that a royal recommendation is not needed because the bill defines “child care transfer payment” in clause 2 to mean:
a cash contribution or financial transfer in respect of early learning and child care services that may be provided under an Act of Parliament to a province, territory, institution or corporate entity.
However, the bill would still have an effect on appropriations made to provinces for early learning and child care under any other federal act, including future appropriation acts. It thereby affects the purpose for which those appropriations are made.
Mr. Speaker, you have reminded the House that the principle of the financial initiative of the Crown requires that a royal recommendation be supplied for an appropriation as well as for any change in the financial purpose of an act. This is clearly the case with Bill C-303. Even though it purports not to appropriate money directly, it would alter the purpose of an appropriation granted through another act.
I would also like to raise a second question with regard to the bill, which is that it reopens a question already dealt with by the House in the 2006 budget and the budget implementation bill, Bill C-13, which received royal assent on June 22, 2006, namely, the question of funding for early learning and child care.
It is a well recognized principle that the House cannot be asked to make a decision on a question, such as the second reading of a bill, if it has already voted on the same or a substantially similar question. Standing Order 18 is explicit that:
No Member may reflect upon any vote of the House, except for the purpose of moving that such vote be rescinded.
This bill was introduced seven days after the House adopted ways and means for the Budget Implementation Act, 2006, which provided funds for early learning and child care without strings and which provided explicitly in paragraph 5(c) of part 6 that the funds could not be retained or constrained in any way. The bill is clearly an attempt to reopen that question through the back door.
On this basis, Mr. Speaker, you may also wish to consider whether the bill should be ruled out of order at second reading. We thank you for your attention. We look forward to an early ruling on this matter.