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House Consideration of Senate Amendments to Bills

The Senate’s consideration of a bill sent to it by the House may result in further amendments to the bill. When this happens, the Senate amendments are submitted to the House of Commons for consideration. The House must then decide whether to accept or reject the amendments proposed by the Senate.

Notice for Amendments

A motion for the consideration of Senate amendments requires 24 hours’ written notice pursuant to Standing Order 77(1). The motion may propose that the House concur in, further amend or reject the amendments made by the Senate. It may at the same time reject certain amendments made by the Senate and concur in or amend others. It must relate exclusively to the Senate amendments, and not to other provisions of the bill that are not contemplated by the amendments.

The motion appears on the Notice Paper under the heading “Motions Respecting Senate Amendments to Bills”. It is considered during Government Orders, if the bill in question is a government bill, or during Private Members’ Business, if the bill is a private Member’s bill.

Rules of Debate

The Senate occasionally adopts amendments to bills, generally involving corrections to drafting errors or improvements to administrative aspects. The House normally accepts such amendments.

When debate takes place on Senate amendments, Members must confine their comments to the amendments being considered and may not address other aspects of the bill or the bill as a whole.

The motion for the consideration of Senate amendments itself is open to amendment and subamendment during debate. In addition, the government may move motions for time allocation and closure to limit or close debate (Standing Orders 78 and 57 respectively).

When the House agrees to the Senate amendments, a message and the bill are sent to the Senate, and Royal Assent takes place shortly thereafter. If the House amends or rejects the Senate amendments, it informs the Senate by way of message. The Senate may then reconsider its amendments, having regard to the message from the House. It may decide to:

The Senate then sends another message to the House to inform it of the decision. Communication between the two Houses continues in this way until they ultimately agree on a text. If it is impossible for an agreement to be reached by exchanging messages, a conference between the two Chambers may be requested. This was quite common in the past but the practice has fallen into disuse.

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