Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Motion No. 277 concerning House private members' business.
According to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, Senate private members' business that is referred to the House of Commons is automatically and immediately added to the order of precedence when it is sponsored or introduced by a member of this House.
However, a member can introduce an item of business only if his or her name is on the order of precedence.
At the beginning of each Parliament, the first 30 members on the list for the consideration of private members' business are added to the order of precedence for introducing a measure in the House.
Once the first 15 items of business on the order of precedence have been passed, rejected or referred to committee, the names of the next 15 members are added to the list.
In other words, the members of the House have to wait their turn, whereas Senate private members' business is automatically added to the order of precedence immediately. Clearly, this is extremely inequitable.
Motion No. 277 would change the rules and make them more equitable. Senate private members' business would receive the same treatment as House of Commons private members' business. We just want to be fair to the members of the House and the members of the Senate.
Motion No. 277 would give a member on the order of precedence freedom of choice. At the appropriate time, the member would be free to choose an item of business to introduce in the House. The member could choose any of his or her own items of business or an item from the Senate. The member would have the choice of sponsoring a Senate private member's bill or item of business or one of his or her own bills. That is freedom of choice.
Some members may say that we should not worry about Senate business, because only one item of Senate business has been passed during this Parliament. I disagree, and I will explain why we should be concerned about this.
During the first 30 days of the session, the senators introduced 33 private members' bills, an average of one a day while the Senate sat.
As I mentioned, the Senate has passed one private member's bill, but the House has not passed a single House private member's bill.
Moreover, four Senate private members' bills have been referred to committee in the Senate and could well be passed by the Senate by the end of May.
If that were to happen, the next replenishment planned for the last week of May would be postponed to June. As we can see, the time that should be devoted to private members' business from this House is currently being devoted to business that comes from the other place.
The many items sent from the Senate do actually make a difference, because time is very precious in this House. We, the members, lose precious time when our items are not addressed. Indeed, time—and I am choosing my words carefully—is of the utmost importance in this democratic institution we represent, and we cannot use this time any way we like.
At the rate at which Senate private members' business is passed, 10 other such items could be brought before the House of Commons by November, when the next replenishment of the order of precedence is scheduled.
Those 10 items could delay that replenishment by two sitting weeks.
In other words, this problem will only get worse over time, and items from the Senate will continue to be favoured at the expense of items brought forward by members of this House.
That is why we must act immediately to ensure that members of the House can present their items at the appropriate time.
I therefore call on all members of this House to support Motion No. 277.