Hon. members will want to hear all about private members' business in this fascinating statement.
At the beginning of the last Parliament on May 31, 2006, as well as at the beginning of the one before that on November 18, 2004, I reminded all hon. members about the procedures governing private members' business and the responsibilities of the Chair in the management of this process. Given that the House is about to take up private members' business for the first time in this Parliament later this afternoon, I would like to make a statement regarding the management of private members' business.
As members know, certain constitutional procedural realities constrain the Speaker and members insofar as legislation is concerned. One procedural principle that I have underscored in a number of statements over the course of the two preceding Parliaments concerns the possibility that certain private member’s bills may require a royal recommendation.
The requirement for a royal recommendation is grounded in constitutional principles found in the Constitution Act, 1867. The language of section 54 of that act is echoed in Standing Order 79(1), which reads:
This House shall not adopt or pass any vote, resolution, address or bill for the appropriation of any part of the public revenue, or of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first recommended to the House by a message from the Governor General in the session in which such vote, resolution, address or bill is proposed.”
Any bill which authorizes the spending of public funds for a new and distinct purpose 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.
Such bills may be introduced and considered right up until third reading on the assumption that a royal recommendation could be provided by a minister. If none is produced by the conclusion of the third reading stage, the Speaker is required to stop proceedings and rule the bill out of order.
Following the establishment and replenishment of the order of precedence, the Chair has developed the practice of reviewing items so that the House can be alerted to bills which, at first glance, appear to impinge on the financial prerogative of the Crown. The aim of this practice is to allow members the opportunity to intervene in a timely fashion to present their views about the need for those bills to be accompanied by a royal recommendation.
Accordingly, following the establishment of the order of precedence on February 13, 2009, I wish to draw the attention of the House to five bills that give the Chair some concern as to the spending provisions they contemplate. These are: Bill C-201, An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act (deletion of deduction from annuity), standing in the name of the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore; Bill C-241, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (removal of waiting period), standing in the name of the member for Brome—Missisquoi; Bill C-279, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (amounts not included in earnings), standing in the name of the hon. member for Welland; Bill C-280, An Act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (qualification for and entitlement to benefits), standing in the name of the hon. member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing; and Bill C-309, An Act establishing the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Region of Northern Ontario, standing in the name of the hon. member for Nipissing—Timiskaming.
I would encourage hon. members who would like to make arguments regarding the need for a royal recommendation for any of these bills, or with regard to any other bills now on the order of precedence, to do so at an early opportunity.
I thank all hon. members for their attention to this important ruling.