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Rules of Admissibility for Amendments to Bills at Committee and Report Stages

Rules

The rules concerning the admissibility of amendments are essentially the same whether a bill has been referred to a committee before or after second reading or a bill is being considered at report stage. However, the rules respecting the scope of a bill do not apply to a bill referred to a committee before second reading, since the House has not yet adopted the principle.

It is the duty of the Chair, in the case of a bill in committee, or the Speaker, in the case of a bill at report stage, to decide whether or not the amendments proposed can be put forward for debate and decision based on the criteria set out in the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. The decision of a committee Chair may be appealed by way of a motion and reversed by a majority vote. This proviso is in contrast with the rules of the House, under which there is no appeal of the Speaker’s decisions.

The rules governing the admissibility of amendments to the clauses of a bill may be categorized according to the following characteristics and elements:

Principle and Scope

An amendment to a bill that was referred to a committee after second reading or a bill at report stage is out of order if it is beyond the scope and principle of the bill. (This rule does not apply to a bill referred to a committee before second reading, since the House has not yet adopted the principle.) An amendment that is equivalent to a simple negative of the bill or that reverses the principle of the bill as agreed to at second reading is out of order.

Relevance

An amendment to a bill must always relate to the subject matter of the bill or the clause under consideration. An amendment is inadmissible if it amends a statute that is not before the committee or a section of the parent Act not specifically amended by a clause of the bill. An amendment of that nature would be admissible, however, in the case of a bill referred to a committee before second reading.

Consistency

The committee’s decisions concerning a bill must be consistent and compatible with earlier decisions made by the committee. An amendment is therefore out of order if it is:

Financial Initiative of the Crown

An amendment is inadmissible if it:

Form

An amendment is out of order if it:

Interpretation Clause

Substantive amendments to the interpretation clause of a bill are not permitted. In addition, an amendment to the interpretation clause of a bill that was referred to a committee after second reading must always relate to the bill and not go beyond the scope of or be contrary to the principle of the bill. This rule does not apply to a bill that has been referred to a committee before second reading.

Coming into Force Clause

An amendment to alter the coming into force clause of a bill by making it conditional, is out of order. This type of amendment goes beyond the scope of the bill and is an attempt to introduce a new question into the bill.

Schedules

An amendment may generally be moved to a schedule, and it is possible to propose new schedules. There is an exception, however, in the case of a bill to give effect to an agreement (a treaty or convention) that is within the jurisdiction of the Crown.

Preamble

In the case of a bill that has been referred to a committee after second reading, a substantive amendment to the preamble is admissible only if it is rendered necessary by amendments made to the bill. For a bill that has been referred to a committee before second reading, if there is not already a preamble, one may be presented as long as the proposed text is relevant; in addition, substantive amendments to an existing preamble are admissible.

The Enacting Formula

The enacting formula is the short paragraph preceding the Act indicating the authority by which it is made. In Canada, legislation is enacted on the authority of Her Majesty the Queen. It is not submitted for the approval of the committee or the House and therefore may not be debated or amended.

The Title

During committee stage, the title is postponed, pursuant to Standing Order 75(1), until consideration of the bill is concluded. The title may be amended only if the bill has been altered in such a way that such an amendment is necessary. Any change made to the title by a committee becomes effective when the House adopts the bill at report stage.

Clerical Alterations

When a bill is in possession of the House, it becomes its property, and cannot be materially altered, except by the House itself. At any stage of the bill, by issuing a corrigendum to the bill, the Speaker may correct printing or clerical errors. No substantive change may be made to the manner in which a bill was worded when it was introduced, or when a committee reported on it, except by an amendment passed by the House.

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